Sunday, June 10, 2012
The contemplative side of Hamid Zahir
Most of Hamid Zahir's oeuvre is pretty formulaic, and it's a formula I love: uptempo, singalong Marrakchi party tunes with light, catchy, often humorous lyrics, an insistent percussive drive from darbuka and tar (tambourine), interlocking syncopated handclapping, call-response vocal punctuations, and Zahir's funky oud. This album, at least to my ear, deviates just slightly from that formula - most of the familiar ingredients are the same, but tempos are just a tad slower, the melodic modes tend toward the minor (track 3) or rast (tracks 1 & 4) rather than the major, and the lyrics seem somehow a little more world-weary than usual. Not as obsessive and bluesy as Rouicha's work, but more contemplative than the typical Hamid Zahir tape.
Speaking of tapes (and ignore this if you're not interested in how I edited the album), I own 2 cassette copies of this album, both of which have incorrect pitch - one too high and the other too low. (I wonder if I perceive this album as contemplative because for years I listened to a tape that ran lugubriously slowly.) I found what appears to be a CD rip online. I planned to use that to find the correct pitch. But the CD also contained "extended" or full versions of a couple of songs which faded out early on the cassettes. Conversely, one of my cassettes contained several extra phrases of Zahir's fantastic oud soloing at the beginning of two different songs, where the CD cuts into the solos late.
So here is my edit of the CD rip (which had better audio quality overall than my tape) with the missing opening phrases appended to the beginning of tracks 1 and 3 from my cassette, with pitch correction. Whew...
1) Tiqi Biya Rak Âziz
2) Haram Âlik ya Dunya
3) Mali ou Mal Ennas
4) Daba Iferrej Allah
Get it here.