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Dhafer Youssef

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Biography of Dhafer Youssef

Born in 1967 in Teboulba, Tunesia, cosmopolitan composer, singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef has been living and working in Europe since 1990. With his deeply affecting vocal style, a straight approach on the oud, charming Arab-coloured compositions, spacey electric lounge vibes and a variety of fusion sounds, he is among today's shooting stars on the electronical/world music scene. World beat magazine Songlines read: "This man is pushing the roots-digital envelope like no-one else can."

Dhafer Youssef recorded two previous CDs in 1993 and 1996 before he started his collaboration with ENJA. Over the years he has been working with Iva Bittova, Mino Cinelu, Tom Cora, Paolo Fresu, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Jamey Haddad, Patrice Heral, Dieter Ilg, Nguyên Lê, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Sainkho Namchylak, Wolfgang Puschnig, Deepak Ram, Carlo Rizzo, Linda Sharrock, Markus Stockhausen, Jatinder Thakur, Arto Tuncboyacian and other great individual improvisers influenced by world music concepts. He always kept finding new soundscapes to go with his intense vocals and his poetic oud playing and finally started adding electric and digital sounds. With the support of Nils Petter Molvaer, Bill Laswell, Doug Wimbish, Eivind Aarset, Bugge Wesseltoft, Rune Arnesen and others, Dhafer Youssef has become one of the most imaginative artists on the crossroads of electronic, acoustic and ambient musics.

Rooted in Islamic traditions, Dhafer's singing is dignified with an aura of spirituality. The Guardian read: "Every time Youssef opens his mouth we are treated to a soaring sound that seems to echo back through the centuries (…) evoking images of dark and ancient temples." When his dark, haunting baritone voice leaps into a hair-raising falsetto, listeners feel "the earth move" below their feet. As an inventive oud player and composer, Dhafer Youssef creates original music both majestic and refined. "Youssef's oud sometimes evokes Bert Jansch's mournful brand of scary folk, at other times it takes on the measured bombast of heavy metal," Time Out read.

Taking world/jazz fusion into electronic trance music with trip-hop elements, Dhafer Youssef is at the core of current cutting-edge trends heading for a bright future. Says the Evening Standard: "No question about it, Dhafer Youssef is a major new voice."

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