Active since 2001, and revealed to the general public alongside the Algerian raï singer Sofiane Saidi in 2018, with a joint album and an international tour, the band Mazalda returns with a new album ‘Special Key’ to be released on May 26, 2023.
Mazalda – comprised of veterans of a dizzying array of styles and scenes – has emerged as a group that skillfully and inspiringly delights in breaking down needless cultural compartmentalizations through intricate texturings and spectacularly tight arrangements. Conjuring up the ambiences of sweaty discothèques and haunted cabarets, Mazalda is propelled by virtuosic precision but equally by an affectionate knack for getting inside the music of almost any recent era or urban milieu. With this foray, much less Latin, Balkan, and jazztinged than earlier work (such as the slamming Turbo Clap), a North African/Eastern Mediterranean feel has been brought to the fore. Perhaps collaborating with Sofiane Saidi on the stellar El Ndjoum record – and accompanying him on a tour of Algeria, where enthralled audiences packed the grand theaters of Constantine, Oran, Sidi Bel Abbes, and Algiers – marked a turning point.
Mazalda’s sound, at heart a synthy tropical prog-funk, is marked by the seasoned, consistent presence of such magic elements such as Stéphane Cézard’s elektrobağlama, with its clean, phase-shifted tone straight out of a Maltepe pavyon; Yann Lemeunier’s masterful live percussion layered with breakbeats, claptraps, and drum machines textures; and electronics and keyboards from Adrien and Lucas Spirli – from retro-future envelope y synth bass to Arab maqam intonations to the kind of bubbly, lo-fi electric organ vibe that is such a charming presence on vintage sides from Mogadishu to Kuwait.
What trajectory will Mazalda explore next? What emerging musical vocabulary will they next add to their formidable palette? I vote ma’zufah!