17/05/2021Italian Producer Khalab Presents Afrofuturist Audio Documentary Recorded In Mauritanian Refugee Camp

Some three years after releasing his pivotal afro-centric and poly-phonic tapestry of future bass, jazz and field recordings, entitled "Black Noise 2084", the multi-talented Italian producer, writer and artistic director Raffaele Constantino, aka Khalab, has readied a new project that is somewhat difficult to put into words and best listened to in its entirety. Let us nonetheless provide you with some context as a backdrop for what you are about to hear.

M'berra is the name of a refugee camp, located in the desert of southeast Mauritania, less than 60 kilometres from the border to Mali. Living there are more than 50,000 Malian refugees, who fled the war in their country. Or as the release notes read: "In a sprawling tent city rising out of the desert, out of nothingness, at the border with Mali in West Africa, brought together by spirit and circumstance, the group’s Arab and Tuareg members find solace and beauty in music and song."

In 2017, at the invitation of Italian humanitarian aid organisation INTERSOS, Khalab and French photographer Jean-Marc Caimi visited the camp and began documenting the many stories they encountered. Working with local Malian musicians, Khalab recorded the situational, musical dialogue that took place, thus laying the groundwork for this audio documentary. "There is not only one story to be told here," he writes. "There are many different real stories, held together by fiction. The real stories feature musicians, their music, their names, our traveling together, politics."

"M'berra", the album, is the result of Khalab's extensive work with said Malian musicians, aka the M'berra Ensemble, and infinitely more than just another set of field recordings. It is his attempt at channeling their artistic output and his electronic synthesis into a fantastic realm of docu-fiction, forging an afrofuturist dimension in which music creates connection between cultures yet continues to move freely between space and time.

"Something unique happens as we are surrounded by the sound of the dunes," writes photographer Jean-Marc Caimi. "We all feel precisely there, in that exact moment, synchronised, bound together, with no cultural, linguistic or racial, barriers, belonging to the same world. We all simply feel alive." Now released on Real World Records, "M'berra" is here to create surreal awareness for a real humanitarian situation that is, quite simply, beyond words.

You can stream/buy the full album via the Bandcamp player below. Make sure to also check the accompanying "M'berra" website for a more information, personal statements and Caimi's beautiful photography.

The M'berra Ensemble are

Amano Ag Issa, Mohamed Issa Ag Oumar, Ahmadou Ag Mohamed, Tinalbaraka Walet Alhassane, Alhassane Ag Abdorahmane, Taya Walet Mohamed, Aliou Ould Mohamed, Attaher Ag Mohamed, Attaye Ag Mohamed, Elhaj Ag Mohamed, Enaderfé Ag Khamma, Hamma Ag Awaissoune, Mohamed Alwafi Ag Mohamed, Khantara Ould Mohamed, Adriano Viterbini, Tommaso Cappellato, Davide Paulis, and DJ Knuf.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom