Speed Caravan

If 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, Kalashnik Love, Mehdi and his Speed Caravan have created a “contemporary music caravan” – albeit one that moves at the speed of sound!

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 Skander Besbes -the guitarist/electronic musician and the flagship of the electronic scene in Tunisia and you get Speed Caravan trio.

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!

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