you've never regarded the oud - the fretless lute at the core of so
much traditional Arabic music - as a rock'n'roll instrument, then you've
clearly never heard Speed Caravan or the frenetic and joyous playing of
Mehdi Haddab. Once part of Parisian-based global electronica
trio Ekova, Mehdi then formed the experimental oud duo DuOud with
Jean-Pierre Smadja. Now working as Speed Caravan, Mehdi is joined by bassist Pascal Teillet, former Ekova electronic beat mistress Hermione Frank, and Mohamed Bouamar on percussion and vocals.
Mehdi Haddab is well known as both a virtuoso player of the classical
oud, and for his pioneering musical projects, breaking into the rock
world armed with an electric oud. With their first album, "Kalshnik
Love" (Real World Records), Mehdi and his Speed Caravan have created a
"contemporary music caravan" - albeit one that moves at the speed of
Pascal Teillet or "Pasco" had previously worked with King Mensah,
Ganoub, Mazaher and jazz star Archie Shepp. Together, Mehdi and Pasco
found that his powerful yet sensitive bass playing magnified the grooves
and sustained the acrobatic arabesques of Mehdi's oud. Despite their
varied musical backgrounds, the two musicians share an obvious sense of
adventure - taking their music in the most unexpected directions.
Add to this mix Hermione Frank - a longstanding accomplice from the days
of Ekova and a renowned electro musician (and a journalist!). Last to
arrive was Moroccan-born Mohamed Bouamar, who trained in the
Arab/Andalusian tradition and for many years was percussionist for
Together they laid the foundations of the project, spending three years
on the live circuit before going into the recording studio. Building
their reputation and fan base at festivals worldwide, including WOMAD
Charlton Park 2008, Speed Caravan's electrifying, high-energy stage
performance has become their trademark. Support for the band came
readily from fellow musicians, who admired their intriguing and
adventurous ideas, and who have gone on to guest on "Kalashnik Love".
Speed Caravan create music that references The Cure and The Chemical
Brothers alongside Algerian rai and other Arabic influences in a
glorious collision of global sounds and styles. To call Mehdi Haddab the
Jimi Hendrix of the electric oud would, of course, be a hopeless
cliché. But it's not that far from the truth!