Sunday, March 18, 2012
Muluk el Hwa - 80s folk revival, Gnawa front and center
Muluk el Hwa (the "Demons" of Love) formed in the late '70s in Marrakech, riding the folk revival wave of groups like Nass el Ghiwane, Jil Jilala and Lemchaheb. Unlike these groups, Muluk el Hwa performed primarily traditional songs rather than original material. Forefront in their particular mix of traditional forms was Gnawa music.
According to a 2005 resume, the group was "discovered by Spanish author Juan Goytisolo" in 1980 and went on to produce 7 cassettes of traditional Gnawa song, 4 cassettes of Gnawa popular music and 3 cassettes of love songs. The group also collaborated with the Spanish group Al Tall on the album Xarq al Andalus, which focused on medieval Valencian-Andalusian traditions.
One of the members, Abdeljalil Kodssi, has gone on to a number of interesting projects over the years, recording albums with Nass Marrakech and under his own name.
Another member, Hassan Baska, is one of several brothers very active in Marrakech Gnawa life. The maalem of the family is Abbas, who is featured on the 3 hours of YouTube audio I linked to in my last post. Abbas, who was one of my primary interlocutors during my dissertation research on Gnawa music, is also featured on several CDs of Gnawa music - World of Gnawa on Rounder, and Kamar Music's fantastic 3-CD Black Album (2 discs of Gnawa and one of Gnawa-inspired electronic dance music). The latter album is available at CD Baby, where you can also purchase the 2 Gnawa discs seaprarately as mp3 downloads. A third brother, Ahmed, is one of the most recognizable faces in Moroccan Gnawa music. A fabulous dancer-singer and a charismatic presence, he's performed with many Marrakchi maalems on television and CD, including Mahjoub Khalmous, Mustapha Baqbou, and Hmida Boussou. A beautiful album, if you can track it down is Rhabaouine by Gnawa Halwa, featuring Abbas and Ahmed Baska in an atypically pianissimo Gnawa recording.
1) Sa'di bil wali jani
3) Salah el Bahja (=Chalaba Titara)
4) La ilaha illa Llah
Get it here.