Saturday, February 18, 2012
Post-Miloud Moussem Mayhem Music from Meknes - Aissawa!
In the weeks following the Eid al Miloud, pilgrimage celebrations (moussem-s) are held all over Morocco at the shrines of local awliya saints. Possibly the biggest of these celebrations is the moussem in Meknes for L-Hadi ben Aissa, eponym of the Aissawa brotherhood. Pilgrims from across the region and across the country descend on Meknes for a 2 weeks of devotion and renewal, and nights of trance music.
Here are 2 tapes of Aissawa music I picked up in Meknes ca. '99. Unlike the released CDs of Aissawa music available in da West (featuring groups from Meknes, Marrakech, and Fes), these tapes make no pretense of presenting a balanced overview of the Aissawa ritual. That is, they don't include any of the lovely sung poetry in honor of the Hadi ben Aissa that would typically open a ritual performance. They cut straight to the chase, hitting the ground running with with blaring ghaita oboes and pounding tbel drums!
I'm not familiar enough with Aissawa music to know if these tunes are from the trance repertoire or from the street/processional repertoire. Whichever it is, these are some serious long jams - the group riffs it non-stop for 3+ sides of these 2 volumes:
Most of Vol 2 side 2 is taken up with a suite of melodies in 5/4 - it sounds like the rhythm used by the Hamadsha brotherhood.
If anyone can identify any of the melodies or the context of these recordings, please let me know!
At any rate, this is definitely a live performance - either the musicians, the microphone, or all of them are in motion - the oboes and drums change places in the mix constantly during the recording. Add to that some weird phasing that carries on through most of the tape, just the right amount of crowd noise, chattering and occasional chanting, and you've got an unintentionally awesome Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka vibe!
Get it here and here.