A Mediterranean Rave Experience

Acid Arab Got The Crowd Moving

  • Acid Arab played a lively set on Wednesday evening. Photo by Flavien Prioreau, courtesy of Montreal International Jazz Festival.

It takes more than good music to make for a great DJ set.

Maybe my expectations are too high, but watching two guys stand at the booth with little to no enthusiasm or movement just doesn’t “do it” for me. Thankfully though, even the most boring set can be salvaged—if the music is up to snuff.

And despite their rather vapid stage presence, Parisian duo Acid Arab makes some damn good music. Combining 80’s and 90’s techno with a multitude of mediterranean musical samples, Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho created a wonderful atmosphere for losing yourself in a beat at Club Soda as a part of the Montreal Jazz Fest last night.

Bringing in musical talent from outside the jazz realm, the Montreal International Jazz Festival has done a great job in diversifying the festival’s sound and talent, and Acid Arab is a prime example.

Once a theme night at Parisian club Chez Moune, Acid Arab has grown from a successful curation of ethno-dub music into its own brand and band. French techno beats, reminiscent of early Daft Punk tracks with repetitive beats and synths, mixed with sounds of didgeridoos—some Aphex Twin vibes here—and strong bass with samplings of string and woodwind instruments, paired with cleverly arranged Arabian elements, give Acid Arab a sound like no other.

While the set itself was lacking in visual oomph, the music spoke for itself—and the crowd responded accordingly. Present as ever, brightly-lit phone screens were sparsely held high above heads, save for the occasional person taking a photo or two. It seemed as though Acid Arab’s particular brand of sound brought out the best in people, enabling them to dance without boundaries and to express their true selves in a physical manner not easily achieved by today’s mainstream electronic beats.

Acid Arab’s set flowed from beginning to end with no interruptions. It stopped somewhat abruptly just before midnight, following a beautiful track composed of traditional Arabian musical sounds and vocals. The pair left, surprisingly, without saying a word. On a surface level, their music isn’t, by any means, overly political. However, in a time of discussion around cultural and national identity, the show served as a fun celebration of French-Middle Eastern musical talent.

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