Having hit it off with Hedfi after collaborating on a 2011 compilation showcasing female Tunisian artists, Olof Dreijer of Swedish electronica duo The Knife is on production duty. However, Fleuves De l'Ame couldn't be further removed from the kind of cheesy culture clash where club-friendly beats are plastered all over suitably 'exotic' music forms. Neither does the album bring to mind more respectful musical bridge-building expeditions where 'Western' stars engage directly with traditional sounds from remote parts of the globe.
Fleuves De L'Âme, the debut album by Tunisian percussionist Houeida Hedfi, has been nine years in the making but over the course of its eight tracks, it becomes clear that it's an undertaking that has been very much worth the wait. It arrives with well-placed connections, released on Erol Alkan's Phantasy label and being produced by The Knife's Olof Dreijer, who helps bring vitality to an already lustrous collection (Hedfi first met Dreijer back in 2011 when he helped produce a track that ended up on a compilation of female Tunisian artists). It also features Tunisian violin player Radhi Chaouali and Palestinian bouzouk player Jalal Nader, and together they help Hedfi establish a sound that balances the traditions of North Africa and the Middle East with a broader, more progressive outlook.
Every album has a story. Some are good, some are convoluted, some are long and others short. Others happen in a flash, and some are tirelessly drawn out over a prolonged period of time. 'Fleuves de l'Âme' has been a long coming. Like the music, which takes its time to make its point, percussionist ….