Magazine article New Internationalist

(Negresses Vertes. Zig Zague)

Magazine article New Internationalist

(Negresses Vertes. Zig Zague)

Article excerpt

WHEN, IN 1989, Les Negresses Vertes were recording their first album, Mlah, they devised a uniquely instant form of road-testing their songs. The band, all 10 of them, would straggle to the nearest metro, set up their guitars and accordions and busk to the passers-by.

Blending flamenco guitars with ska horns, rai rhythms with vocals drawn straight from the French Cabaret tradition, there was always something about Les Negresses which was perfectly Parisian. In delivering a music that negotiated so many influences they championed not just their own visibility, but that of the Paris immigrants as well. Mlah is Algerian slang for 'it's okay' and the area in which Les Negresses lived seethed with the conflicting cries of North African traders and the supporters of Le Pen's ultra-rightists.

Zig Zague is the band's third album and it appears after a tragic event. Lead singer Noel 'Helno' Rota died from an overdose in 1993 just as the second album, Famille Nombreuse, was released. Les Negresses have now regrouped themselves. Slimmed down to five members, vocals are shared by accordionist Mathieu Canavese, guitarist Stefane Mellino and bassist Paulo. …

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