Blue Note Records
Saloua is a big, heavy snake of an album; a salmagundi of fusion that hits more often than it misses. Trumpeter Erik Truffaz's willingness to take chances recalls late-era Miles Davis, who's explicitly referenced on "Tantrik," a funk-drenched wailing echo of a track. It's not hard to imagine Davis approving of Truffaz's wide path of exploration. Rapping from Swiss MC Nya, beautiful maluf-like vocal work from Tunisian singer Mounir Troudi and vicious rock guitar by longtime accompanist Manu Codjia give Saloua its shape, but it's the grooving bass and the echoing resonance of dub reggae production that buoys this dense and occasionally difficult work.
Diffuse as it is, Truffaz's thick, smoky tone runs through the album like a thread, connecting it all. Tracks like "G'Dech," "Big Wheel" and "Dubophone" are otherworldly amalgams of elements, imaginative alien soundscapes. But then there's the misplaced pseudo-metal garble of "Ghost Drummer" and the experimental electronic clicks and squeals in "Spirale," which, though ambitious, offer little more than calculation and perspiration. These flaws hardly ruin Saloua, though; it's rich enough to withstand a few false notes.