- 2You Made It Hard03:38
- 4Bye Bye04:28
- 6Laisse Moi Entrer03:19
- 7The World Is Blue04:47
- 8Le Temps03:42
Info for Ahlam
NES can't be tied down to a specific location. Their music is between traditional Arabic and world music, jazz and pop. These three superb musicians originally met in Valencia in Spain. Percussionist David Gadea is from the region, and was already touring with Flamenco greats such as Ximo Tébar and Josemi Carmona; Matthieu Saglio is a French cellist “with a thousand tone colours” who has performed in more than 30 countries; the singer/cellist Nesrine Belmokh had worked with legendary conductors such as Lorin Maazel and Daniel Barenboim, and performed with Cirque du Soleil on international tours. Placido Domingo has called Nesrine “an exceptional artist, a wonderful voice.”
Russafa, the area around the station in Valencia, Spain, is famous for its market, which offers every imaginable Mediterranean delicacy. This was once a working-class district, but is now full of eccentric cafés and hip restaurants. "Russafa is a place full of light and colours," explains Nesrine Belmokh. "It's the perfect meeting place for everything Mediterranean!" It also proved to be a meeting place that would shape the singer/cellist's future as a musician, because it was there that she met the percussionist David Gadea in 2015. "David and I went to a solo concert by a cellist, Matthieu Saglio. When we talked afterwards, we found out that for seven years we had both lived in Russafa without knowing each other - only 200 metres apart!"
The three became friends, created a trio, built a repertoire and chose a name: NES, Nesrine's nickname. The acoustic music on her debut album "Ahlam", mainly recorded live, draws strong inspiration from pop and flamenco, as well as from the sounds Nesrine heard in her parents' house, which was frequented by Arabic musicians from the Mediterranean region.
“Arab-Andalusian music is more or less the classical music of North Africa, and it left its mark on me," explains Nesrine. "It was also the starting point for my artistic career – that all got going when I sang and played mandolin in an Arab-Andalusian band. Later on I embarked on classical cello studies, but I always knew I wanted to be a singer."
"Ahlam" means "dream" in Arabic. The long-held wish of the three NES musicians was to make an internationally released album - a dream which has now quite literally come true. The title song also expresses a personal dream of love fulfilled, and of the desire for peace in the world: "There is no beauty without a concept of goodness." (That sentence is a free translation of the title song's refrain.) All the Arabic lyrics on the album "Ahlam" were written by Nesrine's mother, a poet whose main occupation is as a doctor. "We’re in touch all the time," explains the singer. "An intergenerational connection like this needs constant feeding and watering!"
Nesrine sings in English, French and Arabic. She can be soft and hypnotic – as in "Bye Bye", chanson-esque – in "Le Temps" or sing pop songs such as "The World is Blue" in a duet with herself. "Music is my exorcism" is the motto of "Bye Bye" – music to drive out the demons. And the lyric: “Spending days and years looking for my identity/ I guess I have to find it within a community" – suggests that this trio itself might well represent the community she is referring to. The astonishingly varied sounds of the classically trained cellist Matthieu Saglio – who also works with loop pedals, and the sometimes fiery, sometimes very delicate percussion by David Gadea constitute the virtuoso flamenco/jazz basis of this band.
People with a liking for the genre-busting music of artists such as Anouar Brahem, Dhafer Youssef or Ibrahim Maalouf are going to love NES. NES are not hemmed in by categories or language barriers. Their songs are full of grace and emotion, born and nurtured by the sun in the cultural melting pot of Valencia.
Nesrine Belmokh, voice & cello
Matthieu Saglio, cello & vocals
David Gadea, percussion
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Nicolas Baillard at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes les Fontaines, France, June 2017
Produced by NES
Voice, energy and communion between three musicians : this is the alchemy that gives NES its particular taste. First of all NES is the golden voice of Nesrine Belmokh. This French-Algerian cello player and singer makes a game of different styles and languages, singing both in French, English and Arabic. Nesrine switches without any effort from blues to jazz, from soul music to French chanson. With a presence and a power of seduction out of range, she blurs any frontier out, to walk in total liberty through lands of emotions.
Explosive, languid, spiritual or melancholic, the young singer explores with her lyrics her research of identity, the feeling of love or the mere looking for happiness. Her meeting with the musical universe of the French cello player Matthieu Saglio gave birth to heart-taking songs, enhanced with the multiple colours of David Gadea’s drums.
At the age of six, Nesrine Belmokh was already singing and playing the mandolin. Since then she hasn’t stopped carrying out many artistic lives. As a virtuoso cello player her career stands out in the world of classical music. She was selected by the grand Lorin Maazel to take part with the Valencian Orquesta de la Ópera Reina Sofía. In 2015 she joined the West Eastern Divan Orquestra from Daniel Barenboim, with whom she plays on an intensive international tour. On the same year she participates in the show of Amaluna del Circo del Sol as a protagonist. NES is her very personal project.
got famous as a first level cello player with an atypical and very personalised profile. Over the course of multiple projects and making his cello vibrating like no one else, Matthieu has been opening amazing new ways for his instrument, venturing into flamenco, jazz, Arabic-Andalusian music, African music, etc. In his multiple projects, where he usually also is composer, he has given concerts in more than 30 different countries. Enriched by this diversity, Matthieu offers the musical compositions of NES a unique and unclassifiable expression.
Ineluctable drummer of the Valencia scene, David Gadea has offered his percussions to internationally famous artists like Sole Giménez, Ximo Tébar, Manu Tenorio, Josemi Carmona, Thaïs Morell, etc. This collaboration with such a variety of bands brought him to play in many foreign countries around the world and to take part in countless recordings. David’ style is to be noticed straight away, due to the peculiar diversity of the colourful palette of his sounds. This finesse, combined with his communicative force, allows him to create a style of great richness.