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2024 World Tour - #3 Morocco

2024 World Tour - #3 Morocco

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This month Sun Never Sets On Music heads to Morocco, as we tour the globe in search of the best music worldwide.

Morocco has a special place in SunNeverSetsOnMusic's heart - after all, we spent a few good years living there, enchanted by the architecture, the music, the culture and the wonderful people of this timeless land.

For this month's playlist, we have collected our favourite music from some of the many musical streams that are heard in Morocco. Selections range from Amazigh (Berber), Andalusian (Arabic Iberian) and Chaabi (Popular Music) to Gnawa (Desert Blues), Malhun (Poetry), Sufi (Devotional Trance) and more.

We've organised the selections into two groups: "Contemporary Artists" and "Heritage Music". The former is arranged in no particular order but these artists are all fusing Moroccan and other musical genres. The latter group is organised in historical order, with a representative selection from each genre.

For a deeper understanding and more information for the many genres of music from Morocco and the Arab world in general we recommend the website Arabo Sounds, the digital catalogue of the Arab World Institute's music collection.

The scope of Moroccan music is breathtaking and we have most likely missed many "essential" artists, if not entire genres.

Nonetheless, we hope you enjoy our selections and we look forward to the next stop on our world tour.

These artists innovatively fuse elements of  Morocco's rich musical heritage with other local or international forms. The result sometimes loops back into the legacy genre, at once enlivening it and extending its currency. The result is often breathtaking. All of these albums are noteworthy.

GuedraGuedra - Vexillology

Vexillology

by Guedra Guedra

Released 12 March 2021

On The Corner

*****

Berber | Amazigh

From the spiritual polyrhythms of gnawa to the looping vocalisations of Sufism and the percussive tessellations of Berber folk, the world of north African cultures meet in the music of Morocco. Producer Abdellah M Hassak, AKA Guedra Guedra, has taken these rhythms as the core of his work. His name comes from the Berber dance music performed on the guedra drum; his debut EP, 2020’s Son of Sun, explored these diffuse roots through a dancefloor filter, with added field recordings and electronic Midi sequencing, a junglist collage that straddles tradition and contemporary dance musics.

Hassak’s debut album, Vexillology, extends this idea over the course of 13 propulsive and complex tracks.

Instead of simply pasting decontextualised field recordings over bright electronics, Hassak integrates these folk elements into the mix and allows them to breathe. He incorporates the clatter of the bendir drum on the rollicking Aura, a smattering of hand claps over the house piano of Cercococcyx, and the shrill arpeggios of the taghanimt flute on the drum machine-heavy 40’ Feet. In this way, Hassak weaves tradition into his own interpretations of dance, allowing space for the acoustic to interact with the electronic, not remixing the former beyond the point of recognition (a common pitfall in this type of work). On Vexillology, Hassak extrapolates the underlying rhythms of the north African diaspora to present a new realisation of this enticing, pervasive pulse.

Source: The Guardian

ouella - YAK LABAS (EP)

YAK LABAS (EP)

by ouella

Released 18 August 2023

moorish duck

Berber | Amazigh

Are you okay?

This is, to cut fervently to the chase, the question that rising artist Walid Anees - artistically known as Ouella - asks in his debut album ‘Yak Labas’. With a title that translates into the unanswerable question in Moroccan, ‘Yak Labas’ is an album that, like any good question, only pops open more ponderings - ones Ouella tackles in six Moroccan-inspired electronic tracks.

“Essentially, this EP celebrates my origin and the longing I have for Morocco,” Ouella tells #SceneNoise. “A longing that has been brewing within me for as long as I can remember.”

Born and raised in Egypt under the loving care of a Moroccan mother, Ouella grew up constantly chasing after the lost half of his heritage, constantly feeling like an outsider in either culture. His bittersweet longing can be touched in his previous EP, ‘Gharib Fina’.

‘Yak Labas’ touches on his mixed cultural heritage-turned-struggle, shedding more light on Ouella’s fluctuating emotions and, subsequently, their manifestation as music. The album features a collection of both upbeat instrumentals and touching vocals, utilising it as a source for low-lit club party anthems as well as holistic heartfelt listening experiences.

‘7 Richter’, the artist’s personal favourite, combines the two elements seamlessly; the song is fast-paced and loaded with the fruit of Ouella’s pondering, placing it on the fine line walked by songs that move both heart and foot.

Read more ... scenenoise

Karima El Fillali - Bihar El Hawa (EP)

Bihar El Hawa (EP)

by Karima El Fillali

Released 29 October 2021

World of Wils

****-

Sufi

Dutch-Moroccan singer Karima el Fillali’s debut record “Bihar el Hawa” combines thousand-year-old Sufi poetry and traditional Arabic singing techniques, with contemporary compositions and sample-based beats. Each of the 5 songs on the record revisits words written by Sufi mystics Al-Hallaj and Ibn Arabi in the 10th-12th century. It’s love poetry but speaks of darkness, light, joy and grief, violence, loneliness, and peace.

Karima El Fillali (1987) is known for her ethereal voice, enigmatic stage presence, and profoundly moving live performances. Her melodies are deeply inspired by the art of tarab – meaning ecstasy in Arabic – and by the Sahraoui singing techniques of her Sahara-dwelling forefathers.

Her influences include Oum Kalthoum, Portishead, Cypress Hill, and Björk – but her own style is deeply rooted in Quranic recitation techniques.

 

Read more ... Bandcamp

Mewreyem Aboulouafa - Mereyem

Meryem

by Meryem Aboulouafa

Released 30 May 2020

Animal 63

Chaabi | Pop

Young Casablanca vocalist Mereyem Aboulouafa's debut album "Mereyem" is an atmospheric collection of original songs sung in English, French and Arabic. In an interview with Wonderland Magazine, Meryem explained that she grew up influenced by her father's music collection including Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Georges Brassens, Jaques Brel, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf.  She says that her priority is "to express her emotions authentically, afford them the right sonorities and choose with care the words with the intention and rhythm they reflect through the feelings". Her influences span African, Arabic and Western music including Thom Yorke, Fairouz, Benjamin Clementine, Majda Roumy, Björk. Her ambition "to sing the lyrics of Matthew Bellamy and Tania Saleh. To be produced by Max Richter and Brian Eno. And make soundtracks for Tim Burton and Nadine Labaki."

Salma Rachid - Nar

Nar

by Salma Rachid

Released 28 April 2023

Salma Rachid

Chaabi | Pop

Moroccan pop star Salma Rachid is well-known for her Arabic pop singles. Rachid, a native of Casablanca, established a reputation for herself with her distinctive sound, which combines classical Arabic music with contemporary pop beats.

Fans around the Middle East and North Africa have fallen in love with her music thanks to its captivating melodies and moving lyrics.

Rachid's music is proof of the effectiveness of cross-cultural musical collaboration. In addition to winning her millions of followers, her fusion of Arabic and pop music has aided in closing gaps between many communities and cultures. Rachid is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with in the world of Arabic pop music thanks to her deep vocals and commanding stage presence. She has established herself as one of the most promising up-and-coming artists in the business as her music continues to uplift and inspire listeners all around the world.

Read more ... Viberate

Bab L'Bluz - Nayda!

Nayda!

by Bab L'Bluz

Released 5 June 2019

Real World Records

Gnawa | Fusion

Moroccan-French power quartet, Bab L’ Bluz, reclaim the blues for North Africa. Fronted by an African-Moroccan woman in a traditionally male role, Bab L’ Bluz are devoted to a revolution in attitude which dovetails with Morocco’s ‘nayda’ youth movement – a new wave of artists and musicians taking their cues from local heritage, singing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect of darija.

Comprising Yousra Mansour (lead vocals, awisha - a small version of guembri, percussion and guembri), Brice Bottin (guembri, guitar, percussion), Hafid Zouaoui (drums) and Jérôme Bartolome (flute, percussion).

Formed in Marrakech in 2018, Bab L' Bluz describes itself as "born from the dream of propelling the Guembri on the international music scene of contemporary music.

A true tribute to the inexhaustible roots of Gnawa culture, irresistibly psychadelic, undeniably blues, bottle-fed at funk, Bab L' Bluz is a true intercontinental meeting point".

Read more ... Financial Times

Rabii Harnoune and VB Kuhl - Gnawa Electric Laune

Gnawa Electric Laune

by Rabii Harnoune and VB Kuhl

Released 15 May 2020

Tru Thoughts

Gnawa | Electronic

This is a collaboration between Moroccan Gnawa-master (maâlem) Rabii Harnoune (playing a kind of three-string lute known variously as hajhuj, gimbri, or sentir) and Frankfurt electronic producer V.B.Kühl, that has resulted in an LP which represents entirely new territory, building a bridge from old to new, from Africa to Europe, and from to person to person. This melange of traditional North African Gnawa music and modern european club sounds results in an original cross-cultural fusion which is electronic and otherworldly, rather than traditional or pastiche.

Gnawa music is among Morocco’s richest and oldest continuous traditions, dating back to the pre-Islamic period. Gnawa combines ritual poetry with traditional music and dancing and is performed at lila, communal nights of celebration dedicated to prayer and healing guided by the Gnawa maalem, or master musician and their group of musicians and dancers. This musical pairing takes elements of Gnawa into a new and exciting musical space, differentiated from the more common "desert rock" of bands such as Gnawa Diffusion or Gabacho Maroc.

JISR - Too Far Away

Too Far Away

by JISR جسر

Released 6 October 2020

Freesoulinc

Gnawa | Jazz

JISR جسر is a collective from Munich led by the charismatic linguist, singer, percussionist and Gembri player Dr. Mohcine Ramdan. He gathered some of Bavaria´s finest musicians to share his vision of an emotional Pan-Oriental sound that is deeply rooted in the tradition of his family of musicians in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Their live performance offers an unique fusion of Arabic Maqam, the polyrhythm of Gnawa music, World Spiritual Jazz & a bit of Afro Kraut and sets a new landmark in how to unite the diversity of diasporic music in Europe in a one stage set.

Link: Too Far Away Bandcamp

Stephan Micus - Nomad Songs

Nomad Songs

by Stephan Micus

Released 26 June 2015

ECM

Gnawa | Jazz

In his journeys all over the world Stephan Micus seeks to study and understand traditional instruments, the sounds that they produce and the cultures that brought them to life. He then composes original pieces for them, combining instruments that would never normally be heard together, chosen from different cultures simply for their character, texture and sonic beauty. Nomad Songs is his 21st album for ECM; he plays nine different instruments, but emphasizes two he hasn’t used before: The first is the Moroccan gembri, a lute covered with camel-skin, played by the Gnawa in Morocco. The second is the ndingo, a lamellophone similar to the kalimba, used by the San people in Botswana. These indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa have been pushed off their land and marginalized by the new nation states. With the album’s title Micus, who sees himself as a musical nomad, refers to both the situation of people like the Gnawa and the San as well as his own way of working and living.

Read more ... ECM

Jon Balke, Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassell - Siwan

Siwan

by Jon Balke, Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassell

Released 22 May 2009

ECM

Andalusian | Jazz

Magical music, trailing deep roots. The listener is at first struck by the power of Amina Alaoui’s voice, soaring above Jon Balke’s remarkable compositions for baroque ensemble – with soloists drawn from jazz, scattered improvisational traditions, and the world of early music.

Behind this remarkable musical integration is a web of philosophical, historical, and literary interconnections, as Balke and Alaoui set texts from Sufi poets, Christian mystics, troubadours and more and – inspired by the tolerant and creative spirit of medieval Al-Andalus – ponder what was lost to the bonfires of the Inquisition. Setting new standards in transcultural music, Siwan shows what can be made today when artists of the most divergent background pool their energies.

Read More ... ECM

Driss El Maloumi - Aswat

Aswat

by Driss El Maloumi

Released 28 April 2023

Contre-Jour

Andalusian | Contemporary

This project is a desire, a wish and a dream that I have had for years.
Already as a child, I was fascinated by the orchestras that I heard in films: the violins, the brass, the harmony... This results from a fundamental quest for "musical ecstasy", "tarab", this feeling of amazement, this aesthetic emotion, between bliss, delight and ecstasy that we feel while listening to music. My writing as an “oriental” musician seeks to grasp the challenges of this “tarab”, nourished by the powerful oral tradition.

In the isolation imposed by confinement, surprised by the cruelty of the psychological devastation caused by this tiny and powerful virus, I took the necessary time to redefine my priorities, to seek inner peace. It was a difficult exercise for me, but essential.

Finding and embodying silence, simplicity, fragility, strength, tenderness, meditation, beauty... Everything that seemed important and necessary to me to understand the process of our belonging to this new life.

I discovered that the power of “habit formation” is more powerful than I imagined. I discovered that the “me” remains fragile in front of itself, despite its achievements and its victories.

I had to resort to metaphor to create a new horizon for myself, I had to resort to imagination...

Read more ... Bandcamp

Nabyla Maan - Dalam Al-Andalus

Dalam Al-Andalus

by Nabyla Maan

Released 20 May 2017

Tarik Hilal & Nabyla Maan

Arabic | Andalusian Fusion

Nabyla Maan is a celebrated Moroccan singer and songwriter, renowned for her unique fusion of Arabic, Amazigh, and Andalusian music.

Born into a family of music lovers in Fes, Morocco in 1987, Nabyla Maan has been interested in traditional Moroccan music since a young age.

Drawing on her cultural heritage, Maan's debut album, D'nya, released in 2005, showcased her musical prowess and versatility, with songs sung in Darija Arabic, Classical Arabic and French. The album was a commercial success, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and propelling Maan into the spotlight, where she became the youngest Amazigh and African artist to perform at the iconic Olympia music hall in Paris at the tender age of 19.

Her subsequent albums, Ya Tayr El Ali in 2009 and Aech hyatek (Vis ta vie) in 2013 further cemented Maan's reputation as an innovative and talented musician.

Her fourth album, Dalalû Al-Andalûs, released in 2017, was the result of three years of meticulous research and experimentation, where Maan worked alongside esteemed masters and specialists in both traditional world music and jazz harmony.

She followed this with a collaboration with Spanish singer and composer Carmen Paris on Dos Medinas Blancas in the same year.

After extensive tours throughout Africa, Europe and the United Arab Emirates, Maan delighted her fans in 2022 with the release of her single, "Rah Lebaid," , announcing her eagerly anticipated sixth album set to release in 2023.

Read more ... Amazon, Saphrane Records

Aziz Sahmaoui, University of Gnawa - Poetic Trance

Poetic Trance

by Aziz Sahmaoui, University of Gnawa

Released 25 January 2019

Zahara SASU

Gnawa | Electro | Dance

With Sahmaoui leading the group as both singer and lute player, the sounds in Poetic Trance is true to its name. In true gnawa fashion, the songs here don't arrest you through sheer melodic hooks, but, instead, through repetition. However, each variation of the central melody is slightly altered. Coupled by the raising intensity of the percussion, which ranges from sturdy drums to clanging castanets, the songs eventually burrow deep inside you.

Sahmaoui, a poet in his own right, matches these grand sonic landscapes with equally evocative lyrics. From the lament of war victims in Coquelicots (Poppies) to an ode to community in Entre Voisins (Between Neighbours), the songs in Poetic Trance provide vivid snapshots of Africa, both modern and mystical.
More than just about the exploration of a genre, Sahmaoui says the message of the album is connection. From family members to nations, it is only through communicating with each other that understanding and empathy is born. And to do that, forgiveness is key.

This key message is beautifully rendered in the haunting Absence. Led by the plaintive notes of an accordion and accompanied by a lute, Sahmaoui lays plain the reality of our existence: "Life is short and maybe we will soon depart."

Read more ... The National Newspaper

Aziz Sahmaoui, Eric Longsworth, Adhil Mirghani - Il fera beau demain matin jusqu'a midi

Il fera beau demain matin jusqu'a midi

(tomorrow morning will be sunny 'til noon)

by Aziz Sahmaoui, Eric Longsworth, Adhil Mirghani

Released 3 February 2023

Passe Minuit en Accords

Gnawa | Electro | Dance

Two people met for whom music is more than just a series of harmonies and tones. Aziz Sahmaoui and Eric Longsworth have always searched for what defines music for them: resonance.

Compared to the last albums with Sahmaoui's band “University of Gnawa”, this is chamber music. The two instrumentalists take turns in the task of getting from hookline to rhythm, to solos, to connecting harmonies. Voice and cello give each other the melodies. Adhil sets a sure, steady and dynamic rhythm. The songs don't reveal themselves on the first listen. They don't fit into normal listening habits because the music doesn't want to show off or convince you straight away. She wants to communicate because resonance involves listeners.

A song also appears again in this album that simply belongs to Sahmaoui's repertoire, every set list and philosophy: Maktoube - Destin. The question: why do people cause so much suffering to each other? Here a children's choir asks the question. Aziz's lyrics are simultaneously comforting and lamenting, wrapped in calm, thoughtful, always hopeful melodies.

The album begins with a song that we know in Cat Stevens' version: Morning Has Broken. This may seem surprising, but the fact that this song is originally a poem by Eleanor Farjeon, written in 1931, in socially troubled times, may suggest what Aziz and Eric are pointing out: Don't inflict more suffering, work for better times.

“Il fera beau demain matin jusqu’a midi” is an album that doesn’t settle in your ear canals immediately, but it does so long-term.

Read more ... Global Sounds Info

Martin Seigneur, Martin et les Gnaouas - Lila

LILA

by Martin Seigneur, Martin et les Gnaouas

Released 3 March 2023

Yala Creation

Gnawa | Pop

The adventure began in 2016, when Martin Seigneur, singer-songwriter, in search of a new musical breath, left Paris for Essaouira.

Along the way, he meets Khalil Mounji, founder of the Gnaoua Culture association.

The latter introduces him into the world of the Gnaouas and their trance ritual, the lila.

Traveling Morocco for two years and bringing together maâlems from different regions, the two artists weave the framework of an album which saw the light of day in 2023 - LILA .

LILA is the first musical experience of fusion between French variety and traditional Moroccan Gnaoua music.
The poetry of the texts mixing French and dialectal Arabic offers us an unprecedented dialogue between the Western psyche tortured by its rationalism and its African echo all in spirituality.

Together, Martin Seigneur and Khalil Mounji will put together the live band for the album LILA.
Tasty mix of sounds: rock, blues, reggae and afrobeat, Martin Seigneur and Khalil Mounji take us into a musical whirlwind where energy and poetry become one.
Since then, these two Tagnaouite enthusiasts have proven at each concert that the harmony of cultures is more than ever within our reach.

Read more ... Institut Francais

Hoba Hoba Spirit - Hoba Hoba Spirit

Hoba Hoba Spirit

by Hoba Hoba Spirit

Released 15 September 2023

Hayha Music Division

Gnawa | Rock | Reggae

Hoba Hoba Spirit is a musical fusion band based in Casablanca, Morocco that was formed in 1998. 

It is composed of Adil Hanine (drummer), Anouar Zehouani (guitarist), Saâd Bouidi (Bass guitar), Reda Allali - (vocalist and guitarist) and Othmane Hmimar (percussionist). The name of the group is based on a song by Bob Marley.

Hoba Hoba Spirit's musical style mixes Rock, Reggae and Gnawa. They refer to their music as "Hayha". Their lyrics are mostly in Darija (Moroccan dialect), French and sometimes English. Recurring themes in their songs are the disorientation and confusion of young Moroccans.

Since 2003, the band has emerged as one of the most popular rock acts in Morocco, frequently playing the country's major festivals, such as the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, L'Boulevard Tremplin in Casablanca, Timitar Festival in Agadir, and the Gnaoua and World Music Festival in Essaouira.

Omri Mor, Mehdi Bassouli, Karim Ziad - Assala

Assala

by Omri Mor, Mehdi Bassouli, Karim Ziad

Released 9 July 2021

Droits Reserves / Mor Nassouili Ziad

Gnawa | Jazz

A hypnotic journey combining jazz, Arab-Andalusian and Southern Moroccan rhythms.

Multi-faceted Moroccan artist, Mehdi Nassouli (Guembri / Vocals) has reinvented the art of Tagnaouite through its versatility and love for music. His Gnaoua heritage and his origins allowed him to be in touch with this music at a very young age and he brings his personal touch to make it radiate beyond our borders. (He is by some_) considered to be the next generation of the Gnaouie tradition.

Lulled by music from the Middle East at a very young age and trained in classical music and then jazz, Omri Mor is a young virtuoso pianist with flourishing play and multiple influences.
He was spotted very early by Avishaï Cohen (double bass) for his great knowledge of Arabo-Andalusian music, Chaabi and Jazz and his great versatility. Cohen hired him to tour with him as a trio and they will perform together on the biggest stages of Europe and the world.

The story of Karim Ziad (Drums) is that of an insatiable traveller, drummer very courted and essential of the North African scene (Cheb Mami, Orchestre National de Barbès, Khaled...) but also of the international jazz scene (Joe Zawinul, Bojan Z, Sixun...). Ziad is a pioneer of mixing Maghreb rhythms with jazz, rock, gnaoua and many other styles.

Read more ... Paris Jazz Club

DJ Click, Hamadcha de Fes - DJ Click & Hamadcha de Fes

DJ Click & Hamadcha de Fes

by DJ Click, Hamadcha de Fes

Released 25 February 2021

No Fridge

Sufi | Electronic

DJ Click drives crazy the customs officers. One day, he’s exploring Indian rhythms with tablas players from the fringes of Rajasthan. Next day, he’s hitting the road around Bucharest with gypsy musicians. He can vanish in Essaouira during a Gnawa lila's night and reappear in Sevilla as part of a fiesta gitana

The Hamadcha of Fez are dervishes belonging to the very old (17th C) Moroccan Sufi brotherhood Hamdouchiyia.

Its members are mystics who sing and dance to trance in honor of the holy founder, the miracle worker Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch.
During a performance their amazing spiritual and artistic practices transmit to those who approach them their “baraka”, a divine grace.
The audience vibrates and moves to the rhythms of the dervishes songs, tempos, stories and fascinating dances.
Dj Click puts down his suitcases in the heart of the old city. He goes in search of atypical sounds coming from the heart of the streets, soaks up the atmospheres, then offering us a sound postcards where tradition alongside modernity.
He is the first producer to be accepted into their brotherhood for a such meeting!

Read more ... Bandcamp

Kasbah Rockers, Bill Laswell - Kasbah Rockers with Bill Laswell

Kasbah Rockers with Bill Laswell

by Kasbah Rockers, Bill Laswell

Released 1 January 2008

Barraka El Farnatshi

M/East | Electro | Dub

Kasbah Rockers describe themselves as a "Moroccan artist collective, melting  Algerian, Middle Eastern, African, Tribal roots with diverse styles of Electronica, as influences of Dub, Trip Hop, Psy Trance and Dance sounds.", adding that "working on diverse Soundtrack contributions for Hollywood blockbusters, Indie films and TV series, has lately become one of our main activities".

Bill Laswell is an American bass guitarist, record producer and record label owner who has been involved in thousands of recordings with many collaborators from all over the world, whose music draws from similar influences.

According to music critic Chris Brazier, "Laswell's pet concept is 'collision music' which involves bringing together musicians from wildly divergent but complementary spheres and seeing what comes out.

This approach has been spectacularly interesting (if not always successful) in Laswell's work across the Middle East and North Africa.

Read more .... Bandcamp

Maalem Mokhtar Gania, Bill Laswell - TAGNAWWIT Holy Black Gnawa Trance

TAGNAWWIT Holy Black Gnawa Trance

by Maalem Mokhtar Gania, Bill Laswell

Released 9 December 2016

M.O.D. Technologies

Gnawa | Trance

GNAWA (or Gnaoua) MUSIC is a rich North African repertoire of ancient African Islamic spiritual religious songs and rhythms. Its well preserved heritage combines ritual poetry with traditional music and dancing. The music is performed at ”Lila”’s (pronounced Leela), entire communal nights of celebration, dedicated to prayer, evocation of spirits and healing, guided by the Gnawa Maâlem, with the female Moqadema and his group of musicians, who are also dancers. Though many of the influences that formed this music and it’s special language can be traced to sub-Saharan West Africa, its traditional practice is concentrated in Morocco and parts of Algeria and Tunesia (where it is known as Stambouli). TAGNAWWIT offers a rich mix of musical and cultural backgrounds, fusing many individual influences into one collective sound.

GNAWA FUSION at the highest level. Maâlem Mokhtar Gania - son of the great Maâlem Boubker Gania, is the fourth and surviving brother of a.m.o. the legendary Maâlem Mahmoud Gania (or Guinia) - a gnawa superstar in gnawa simply known as El Maâlem - and Maâlem Abdellah Gania - by many called The Marley or The Rasta for his dreadlocks and fondness for reggae.

This collaboration with bassist/producer Bill Laswell features musicians from extremely diverse backgrounds. Dominic James and Aiyb Dieng from West Africa, Chad Smith - drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Graham Haynes, Peter Apfelbaum, Adam Rudolph and many others. A CLASSIC AFRICAN FUSION

Read more ... Bandcamp

Hassan Hakmoun, Zahar - Trance

Trance

by Hassan Hakmoun, Zahar

Released 1993

Real World Records

Gnawa | Electro | Dance

Hassan Hakmoun and his band Zahar take an ancient Moroccan musical tradition and celebrate it with an up-front vitality that is entirely contemporary.

The songs here are part of the story of a music which spread from West Africa, the Sudan and the Southern Sahara through centuries of migration until it reached Morocco, where it fused into the power of the master musicians of the Gnawa, a word which refers to both the music and those who play it.

The gift of the Gnawa contains shamanic powers which can heal, dispel evil, and mediate in the spirit world. Through the Gnawa’a intervention the spirit of the ancestors can return to guild, advise and give strength to the living.

Hassan’s music is rooted in his playing of the sintir, the Moroccan three- stringed bass, and many of his songs have the Gmawa’s timeless, nomadic quality. They start with slow, passionate invocations of love, unity, and inner strength, along with cries of desire, joy and anguish. As the groove takes hold, the song’s spirit comes spiralling out to fever-pitch, mediated by Anthony Michael Peterson’s sheets of harmelodic guitar textures and bold thrash-like strokes, and underpinned by the drum and percussion alliance of Bill McClellan and Kweyao Agyapon.

Read more ... Real World Records

Sapho - Jardin Andalou

Jardin Andalou

by Sapho

Released 1 April 1997

Celluloid

Arabic | Andalusian Fusion

From Marrakech to the desert, from the influences of Judeo-Andalusian music, to the sweet and savory tastes of Moroccan cuisine, Sapho returns to world music, not this universal soup, but that which has the strength and freshness of prickly pear.
The Andalusian Garden half-opens its door which reels with the scents and dizziness of the Mediterranean, the interior lands, and the Atlas Mountains. And the Atlas carries the world! Sapho sings it.
“What is the point of coming, what is the point of leaving? Where is the warp of the weft of our life! How many delicate bodies the world breaks... Where has their smoke gone?» Omar Khayam

Sapho, to retain the smoke of souls, the brokenness of memories, erects the oasis of the “Andalusian Garden”. And in the arabesques of the rediscovered childhood song, all the spells of Marrakech regain their natural size and will mingle with the haunting Arabic violin, with the tearing of the flamenco guitar.

She, the Moroccan Jew born Danielle Ebguy on January 10, 1950 in Marrakech, still dreams of tolerance and the Andalusian golden age. Even if the true condition of Jews in this legendary time was to be second-class citizens, Roumis. But the legend is beautiful and generous, let's accept it and remake the world into a new Andalusia.
Sapho is a sensual, singular singer, an Amazon sister in love with the dew of Arab-Andalusian music.

Excessive and baroque, femme fatale and woman-child, Sapho is a party, a burning sincerity in delicious artifice.
The Andalusian garden awaits you, it is exuberant like the nomadic fairy who inhabits it and who, behind her fan and her veil, makes the flaming fountains of memory, of desire, of mixed sounds rise.

To the days and people who are not yet, and who have passed, “the Andalusian Garden” of Sappho brings the water of the wadis, and the wind of the desert.