Alabina comes with unusual pedigree - lead female vocalist, Ishtar, has a Moroccan father, an Egyptian mother, was raised in Israel and served in the Israeli Air Force, and now lives in Paris, touring with her band, Los Ninos de Sara, a group of gypsy musicians from the South of France. However, their music is anything but confused - drawing on a wealth of influences, from Mediterranean pop to Arabic music and Latin rhythms, "Salam" is a brilliantly-engineered mix which will have you tapping your feat from the opening track to the closing bars.
The first track on the album, "Alabina", is already burning up dance floors; the flamenco rhythms of the gypsy band, combined with Ishtar's incredible vocals, are sure to make this a classic. Equally good is "Salam, La Paz Al Final", the title track, the energetic "Yo Te Vi", and the hevily-influenced "Ya Mama, Ya Mama". A brilliantly-reengineered version of The Animals' 1960s hit, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", in Spanish, and a remixed version of "Alabina", round out one of the best examples of Arabic-Latin fusion you're likely to see this year. Don't miss it!This article was first published on 14 Mar 2001.