Saturday, December 3, 2016

Âita With Guinbri Really Shouldn't Work, But Tagada...

Well whaddya know? The Stash yields another Tagada tape! This dates from around 1992, when Mohamed Louz was still a member of the group. (For some historical info on the group, see our previous Tagada post.)

I wrote previously that Tagada's folk-revival approach was rooted in the âita. This album stretches things a bit, while maintaining a core texture of viola driving the melody, male group or antiphonal vocals and a bendir-driven percussion section.

"Lalla Lgada" leads things off in a typical âita mode, though with what sounds like scissors hearkening back to the âbidat errma. The strange "Ach Ngoul Lik" leads off with a pentatonic viola solo somewhat evoking the amarg tradition of the Soussi rwayes, but then the rhythm enters, featuring a Gnawa guinbri (and some faint qraqeb, I think). It sounds sort of Nass el Ghiwan-ish, except for the continued presence of the viola, which pulls the sound in a different direction. "Âyyitini" goes full Soussi, adding a banjo or lotar and naqqus for that rwayes vibe, though the singing is in Arabic, not Tachelhit.

Finally "Hada Hali" returns viola and bendir to the center of the texture with a real deep âita feel - angular bendir-s, alternating solo vocals evoking shikha song, sliding eventually into trance-based and trance-evoking lyrics, idiomatic viola riffing recalling the sweaty middle-of-the-night when the âita groove gets so heavy and REAL that it crosses over into that zone where all one can do is call prayers upon the Prophet and the saints, hope for deliverance and submit to the groove. At this point in the song, Tagada incorporate the guinbri and qraqeb again. This sounds nothing like Gnawa music, though, resembling much more the saken trance songs of the âita tradition. But with Gnawa signifiers added for intensification? Mixing these elements together is a weird, improbable idea, to which I'm sort of opposed on principle, and yet somehow... it kind of works! Well played, Tagada, well played!

Tagada (تگدة) Edition Hassania cassette EH 1462
01 Lalla Lgada (لالة الگادة)
02 Ach Ngoul Lik (اش نگول ليك)
03 Âyyitini (عيتني)
04 Hada Hali (هذا حالي)

Get it all here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mâalem Hmida Boussou - Precious Gnawa Recordings for Strange Days

Strange Days here in the USA. An erratic blowhard was recently elected president, and we are about to observe a holiday (Thanksgiving) that commemorates cooperation between early English colonists and American natives while corporate/government forces continue an assault on Native American Water Protectors (mainstream English: "protesters") and their allies at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation...

Well, at least there's some good news here at Moroccan Tape Stash - I lost track of this wonderful tape several years ago, and it just resurfaced, hidden away in a box of grad school notebooks. A rare commercial cassette from the great, great Gnawi mâallem Hmida Boussou. I picked it up in the early 90s in Marrakech.

Another cassette by Mâalem Hmida was featured on this blog a long time ago. Today's cassette shares a number of characteristics with it. The j-card lists the same 3 track titles and the imprint "Sawt Errbi3", though the featured photo is different. The cassette shell similarly reads "Edition el Kawakib".

But this is a different album. One track from today's tape (Track 2) does appear on the earlier tape. The present version is the same recording, but it runs somewhat slower than on the other cassette and fades out earlier. The overall sound quality is better on this one too. And the new tracks are fantastic.

I'm thankful that there are some recordings of these Gnawi masters who have left us. The tradition continues to thrive, but styles change, so these recordings are quite precious. It's worth seeking out copies of his recordings in the Al Sur 5-disc Gnawa Leila series.

Blessings, safety and companionship to you all!

Lagnawi Hamid Boussou - لگناوي حميد بوصو
Edition el Kawakib cassette

1) Bangara Bangara - Amara Momadi - Berrma Nana Soutanbi
2) Chalaba Titara - Fulani Hiriza
3) 3yalat - Soussiya

Get it all here.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rouicha Mohamed - Instrumental Musical Masterpieces

For those of you following the US elections: Haven't you had enough already? Haven't you already decided who you're voting for? Aren't you tired of the 24-7 stream of horrible words, words, words from candidates and pundits?

Wouldn't you rather just sit back and listen to a full album's worth of sublime riffing and groovemaking, all instrumental with no words, from the undisputed king of the lotar?

Enjoy. You deserve it. We all do.

Rouicha Mohamed (رويشة محمد) - Instrumental Musical Masterpieces (روائع المعزوفات الموسيقية)
(Tichkaphone cassette TCK 1196)

Track 2 (of 2)

Get it all here.