Lemma by Phot'Hocine
Lemma by Phot'Hocine
Lemma by Phot'Hocine
Lemma by Phot'Hocine
Lemma by Phot'Hocine
Lemma at Ethoport - Poznan
Songlines Review
Lemma in Malmö


Video clip of Lemma
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  • country:Algeria
  • style(s):Gnawa, Traditional
  • label:Buda Musique
  • type:Band
  • gender:female
  • instrumentation:instrumental, vocal, percussion, dance orchestra, unplugged, guitar
  • artist posted by:Tour'n'sol Prod.

Line up

  • Aziza Tahri  (Vocal, t’bal, bendir, karkabu)


Women of the Saoura

The Lemma ensemble, created under the impetus of Souad Asla, comes from Saoura, the Saharan southern part of Algeria. The music of the Saoura, sometimes slow and languorous, sometimes lively and swaying, remains recognizable by the stripping of its instruments and the place occupied by the body. The voice and the hands remain the principal instruments, to which the percussions are joined. Serious or trivial, the text sings disappointed loves, insomniac watches and torments, the elegies to the Prophet and the invocations of his family.

Souad Asla, whose childhood was lulled by the melodies of this music and the hip-swings of these dances, returned after years of absence for a redemptive memorial at the place of her birth. She managed to raise the visibility of this genre by combining authenticity and exacting direction. From now on the lemma (as meeting, assembly) takes place in public and on the stages of the world as well as being practiced, as it always was, in private and intimate encounters .

The Saoura region, where the musicians of the Lemma come from, lies about 900 km south of the Mediterranean Sea. A traveller coming from the North would have to cross the chain of the Saharan Atlas and go beyond Jebel Amour to arrive at Jebel Bechar, a veritable wall between the steppe and the Saoura region. Entering one of the passes, he would finally be able to look over this valley which formed part of one of the main caravan routes; the one that crossed the Saharan oases towards the mythical country of Sudan. Despite the severity of its geography, the region is brimming with history. More than a frontier, it is first and foremost a meeting space.

With modest means and a body totally dedicated to the rhythm, the inhabitants of the Saoura have filled an immense void with melodies of singular charm. Serious or trivial, the text can only ever be a pretext for a melody made of cries and murmurs interspersed with silence. The text will often end up subjugating itself to the emotional power of the rhythm.

Although distinguished by its own style and staging, melodic, instrumental and choreographic innovations, the Lemma group is inspired by the collections and repertoires of the four main genres of the region: zaffânî, hadra, al-farda and gnawi.

Since 2018, the band toured in some major festivals and Venues in Algeria, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Switzerland.

" One of the best sets arrived right at the close of the final night, in the moodily-lit courtyard. The mostly female group Lemma were fronted by singer Souad Asla, presenting a repertoire of Algerian Berber music, with close affinity to the Gnaoua sounds of Morocco. Most of the members sing and play percussion, including bendir frame-drum and metal-clacking qraqeb. Their colorful, shiny robes lent a Sun Ra image, as they clapped in unison and gathered in a semi-circle, chanting, with a lone electric guitar adding a strand of gristle. The stylistic approach was kinked away from that of most similar practitioners, making this a singular musical experience, as a group trance grew, spreading from band to audience. Swirling dance quickened the campfire flame-licks, and the collective spirits were nudged ever higher."
> Martin Longley (about the concert of Lemma at Ethnoport Festival in June 2019)

« Lemma offre une place au soleil à la voix et aux percussions, pour célébrer la dignité et la liberté […] Leurs voix entrelacées semblent porter le ciel » > Fara C – l’Humanité

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