One of the original global pop divas, Natacha Atlas has long combined Middle Eastern and Western musics. Her sixth solo album is very much a continuation of works past. She continues to maintain links with her old band (Tr... more »ansglobal Underground's Count Dubulah produces), and she continues to add traditional and modern influences as need be. One particular standout moment is Atlas's sensual performance as she rides a straight-up bossa nova groove on "Gnanwa Bossanova," but equally strong is the slightly cheesy "Bathaddak," which sounds like it could be piped out of a cassette stall in a North African casbah. Those looking for her cosmopolitan trip-hop vibe certain will be satisfied with opener "Oully" or the menacing-sounding "Hayati Inta." No matter the genre, however, the singer really sounds best in the stripped-down arrangements here where it's her voice that exudes nuance and mood instead of counting on the accompaniment to fill in those blanks. --Tad Hendrickson« less
One of the original global pop divas, Natacha Atlas has long combined Middle Eastern and Western musics. Her sixth solo album is very much a continuation of works past. She continues to maintain links with her old band (Transglobal Underground's Count Dubulah produces), and she continues to add traditional and modern influences as need be. One particular standout moment is Atlas's sensual performance as she rides a straight-up bossa nova groove on "Gnanwa Bossanova," but equally strong is the slightly cheesy "Bathaddak," which sounds like it could be piped out of a cassette stall in a North African casbah. Those looking for her cosmopolitan trip-hop vibe certain will be satisfied with opener "Oully" or the menacing-sounding "Hayati Inta." No matter the genre, however, the singer really sounds best in the stripped-down arrangements here where it's her voice that exudes nuance and mood instead of counting on the accompaniment to fill in those blanks. --Tad Hendrickson
Book Lover | United States of America | 12/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
I am a huge fan of Natacha Atlas as I own seven of her albums. Before buying Mish Maoul (Arabic for "Unbelievable!"), I logged onto the mish-maoul[dot]com website, which lets you listen to her complete album. (I highly suggest doing this before you buy! I never would have bought this album based on a 30-second listen of each track on Amazon.) Upon first listen on the Mish-Maoul website, I was repulsed by every song, because it lacked that Egyptian pop/ambient dub/drum 'n bass sound I had been so accustomed to hearing from Atlas. Mish Maoul just didn't seem like Natacha Atlas to me, but instead appeared to be too abrasive and intangible to my ears. When I would click on a song, I would find myself saying "Ugh!" and go on to the next one. After reading other positive reviews about the album, I thought I would give it another try and listen to more than just the first fifteen seconds of each song. After a complete listen, I discovered that the album was growing on me. Each song has a feel of its own and Atlas brings something new to the table: her fusion of North African, Arabic, and Western music is her most organic and indigenous release yet! She does include some ambient sounds, "Wahashni" (I Miss You) being her most atmospheric while still remaining beautifully organic. With its incessant clapping and Atlas' angelically meditative lament seeming to extract every exotic note from the qanun, "Wahashni" is definitely one of the best songs on the album.
With its hip-hop overtones, "Feen" is the album's biggest (and only) stumble; Princess Julianna's voice is too nasal and very annoying. This song is simply out of place, but can easily be skipped in the CD player. The smooth sounds from "Ghanwa Bossanova" and "Bab El Janna" are pretty good, and if you like Brazilian bossa nova, you will definitely like these two tracks. Atlas does do a great job combining Middle Eastern arrangements with the bossa nova genre. While a bit on the glitzy side, the Europop-influenced "Bathaddak" has a nice catchy tune; once again, Princess Julianna appears on this track, but just as an accent piece so as not to be too overbearing like in "Feen." An intoxicating male-female duet with the Algerian talent Sofaine Saidi, "Oully" has a hint of bossa nova percussion with a splash of Moroccan sensuality. The tribal groove "Hayati Inta" has a wonderful rhythmic North African beat, sounding as if it was recorded on the very streets of Marrakesh; Atlas' voice works very well with the male vocalists while the electric guitar reminds us of Atlas' western sensibilities. The playful "Haram Aleyk" lazily meanders between organic and electronic elements, while the rhythmic drum beats seem to rise from beneath the scorching sand of the Saharan Desert. With its pleasant string arrangements, "La Lil Khowf" is perhaps the strongest song on the album. It features English rap from the incredible Lebanese rap artist Clotaire K (You can visit ClotaireK[dot]com to view his excellent website and hear outstanding music!), followed by Atlas' trademark voice in Arabic accentuated with exotic male vocals from Sofiane Saidi. (You can also visit myspace[dot]com/sofianesaidi.) Although Mish Maoul lacks the pop feel of Atlas' other albums, "La Lil Khowf" has the greatest chance of hitting the Arab pop charts. And finally, "Yariet" takes the album to a soothing, organic close as Atlas sings to the tune of a Brazilian-flavored acoustic guitar.
The blissfully invigorating Mish Maoul is Atlas' most mature album yet and shows that, as she returns to her musical roots, Atlas is growing as a world artist. This album is filled with great drum beats, percussion, and string arrangements from the heart of the Middle East. And Atlas' voice once again does not fail to amaze! She has the absolute BEST voice in the Arab world, far outdoing Nawal al-Zoughbi, Najwa Karam, Elissa, and other mainstream Arab female singers. Atlas has the most versatile and sensual voice of them all, not to mention the most creative music which spans the globe from Middle Eastern to North African to Western. Thus, Natacha Atlas cannot be placed into a single genre of music, for she ignores cultural boundaries and celebrates humanity's musical history, making her a truly gifted world artist.
I have to say, I agree with other reviewers that if you are new to Natacha Atlas and Near Eastern music, Mish Maoul might at first seem a little too abrasive for your ears, but at least give it a try. If you are a fan of Atlas, Mish Maoul might be a bit of a shock at first, but if you listen to the album with an open mind and immerse yourself in the organic atmosphere of her album, you will become addicted. And did I mention...the album artwork is exquisite! Be sure to visit Mish-Maoul[dot]com before you buy! After this work of art, I cannot wait to hear what Natacha Atlas brings us in her next album. Classical Arabic music perhaps?
Well done, Atlas. You are "Mish Maoul"!"
She does it again
PhoenixTree | Seattle | 05/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is indeed a far cry from the pop/arab feel of her previous albums, but also no where near the monotonous vapidity of 'Something Dangerous.' Natacha Atlas has always written her own songs and was very involved in the musical process, but this album conveys her pure talent and establishes her as a singer/songwriter. I would agree with the previous comments that this album would appeal to Natacha Atlas fans rather than any new comers, (unless those new comers prefer this subtler type of genre.) As her other albums were reminscent of Arab pop, this cd fits more under fado music, like, Christina Branco or Mariza, with euro-pop/electronica floundering around Brazilian guitars and Natacha's beautiful lyrics. Her voice is heard far more clearly here, and so are her lyrics, and despite the 'Morrocan Feel' of the album she sings in the Egyptian and Levantine dialect of Arabic."
Hate it one day Love it the next!
Onimok | Sydney Australia | 06/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My first listen to this CD had me ready to frisbee it out of the car, Natacha what have you done?? Where is the Natacha I used to know? Luckily I had ripped the CD to my mp3 player and a week later while bored on a bus ride decided to have a listen.
Maybe it was the mood I was in, maybe it was the bus, but for some reason I was really diggin the exotic beats and the light mystical feel of this CD, as well as the toe tapping dance rhythms on some tracks.
The latin tracks have a great laid back sound that just picks you up and makes you drift around on a cloud, something different for Natacha that works very well.
I agree with another reviewer that the Princess Juliana presence does spoil the overall quality of this CD, only 4 stars, but apart from that it is a great CD! Much better than Something Dangerous, her worst effort.
This is a return to those wonderful rhythms that attracted me to her music in the first place, even in a modern context the rhythms are hypnotic and her singing is in top form, thanks for not doing any more English versions!. As I said I have done a backflip on this one, so please make sure you have a good listen to the whole CD before you purchase. Luck for me I had a second chance to listen to it properly. It is different again from what we know of Natacha, but a step back in the right direction.
If you really don't like the modern/western influences in this music, have a listen to my other favourite female Arabic singer Nawal Al Zoghbi, she is the real deal!!
Natacha, leave out the American/RapCrap hip hop next time and I'll give you five stars for sure!!
One of your biggest fans."
Linguist-wannabe | Spain | 05/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply Natacha at her best! Not really recommended for first time listeners but this album is real treat for us, long-time fans! Thank you Natacha."