“This album is my real solo; since many years some people advised me to do a solo with my oud and my computer. So I rehearsed to show that I could build a journey beginning with Oud solos to finish by big beats and electric oud riffs.”
His professional career is 24 years old, yet French Tunisian oud (lute) player Jean-Pierre Smadj continues to surprise his followers. On Solotronic, he wanted ‘an album dominated by stripped-down acoustic compositions,’ yet to ‘confront these solos with electronic machine grooves.’ The result is a beguiling 12th album showing that the 51 year old composer can handle standards like the love song ‘Mwasha’ (spiced up by Kiswahili vocals and Kenyan bass, piano and percussion) as easily as drum’n’bass creations such as ‘D&B Lesson 1’.
Solotronics is the fruit of Smadj’s whirlwind 70 gigs 2016 global tour, suffused by subtle rhythms from Zanzibar, Morocco and Nairobi. Never has Smadj seemed closer to his Oriental roots as he explores the oud in all its wandering forms (from Turkey to Iran, via Egypt), thus enriching our appreciation for an instrument that ethnomusicologist Jean During traced back to the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent 5,000 years ago.