Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gna Abdellah

Here's a lovely old Gnawa tape appearing to date from the 1980s. This looks like Abdellah Guinia, brother of Mahmoud, from Essaouira. The cover reads "Gna Abdellah". (I wonder if it was supposed to read "Guinia Abdellah", or "Gnawa Abdellah", or whether it's deliberate.) Although less well known than Mahmoud, Abdellah did release a couple of recordings available internationally. This is the first time I've seen a Moroccan cassette under his name.

It sounds like Mahmoud is singing on this tape, but perhaps it's just a family resemblance. In addition to Abdellah's guinbri-playing, there is a tam-tam and a banjo on some tracks, à la Nass el Ghiwane. Thanks to musician and Stash visitor Fritz Catlin who used one track in this swell mix (at about 38:55):
and then shared the full album with the Stash!

 Gna Abdellah (Abdellah Guinia) Sawt el Janoub cassette
1) 3arbiya Moulati
2) Sadati Huma Shorafa
3) Hada Wa3du Meskin - Woye Wahyana
4) Allah Denya Wo Ho
5) Hada Wa3du Meskin - slight return (seems like the beginning of track 2 again)
6) bonus ahouach (not abdellah guinia, or even gnawa, but there it is, and it rocks!)

Get it here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jean Mazel Moroccan Field Recordings via Tuluum Shimmering

Here's a vintage stash of folk music field recordings made and released in the 1950s and 1960s by one Jean Mazel, a French cinéaste and ethnologue, about whom I can find little information online. Most of his published recordings (and a disambiguation with a namesake) can be found here, and a number of his publications are listed here.

The recordings presented here were originally released on one 10-inch album (33 RPM) four 7-inch EPs (45 RPM). They have been resequenced and made available for streaming/download by the "UK-based one-man trancedental-drone band" Tuluum Shimmering:

In addition to being offered in their raw form, the Moroccan recordings have been incorporated into 3 CDs worth of Tuluun Shimmering's psychedelic recordings, also available from their Bandcamp page, or as CDs from their homepage.

The original 10-inch album features linking narration in French. If you're interested to hear it in its original state, check the YouTube clips below. (I'm happy to have the narration removed in Tuluum's version. It reminded me of the pretentious voiceovers I heard between acts at the Folklore festival in Marrakech in 1995.)

I went looking online for the original artwork/notes, and to see where the original tracks fit into Tuluum's sequence. If you're interested in that sort of thing, you can find the images I collected and my crosswalk spreadsheet here.

Thanks to tape aficiondo and old Berkeley pal @boxwalla for calling my attention to this.

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.