Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hassan Baska - Fiery Tagnawit and a little Gnawa Blues

Here's a solid cassette from Hassan Baska and group. I wrote a bit about Hassan and his brothers in my post on Muluk el Hwa last week. This tape is from around Y2K. Tracks 1, 3 and 4 are straight-up, fiery Marrakchi tagnawit (that is, music from the Gnawa ritual repertoire). Quite nicely recorded, and high in energy. (Marred slightly by vocals going sharp on the first piece of track 3). The lead vocalist sounds to me like it could be Ahmed Baska rather than Hassan, but I'm not sure.

Track 2 is an unusual gem, featuring 2 songs I believe to be originals. (They're certainly not from the tagnawit repertoire.) "Mamayo" features a darbuka in addition to guinbri and qraqeb. It is sung in a blues pentatonic (rather than the typical Gnawi pentatonic) and in a typical Maghrebi 2/4. In the second piece "Sudani Mani Zara", guinbri and qraqeb lock into a blues-swing groove! (totally weird - totally works!) There are so many overblown Gnawa fusions - this one is about as simple as it gets, and is all the more sweet for it! The vocalist is different on this track than on the rest of the album. I think it may be Hassan singing here and Ahmed on the other tracks, but again, I could be wrong.

Discographic note: I own 2 cassettes of Hassan Baska. The j-cards for both read "Edition Safi Disque". The cassette shells for both read Sawt al-Kawakib. Go figure...

1) Kohl (incl. Mimouna, Ghumami, Marhaba)
2) Mamayo - Sudani Mani Zara

3) Shorfa (incl. Hadiya, Ali ya Ali)
4) Salihin (incl. Jilala, La ilaha illa Llah Jilala, Jilali Boualem, Jilali Dawi Hali)

Get it here.

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
2) Sahiyoun
3) Salah el Bahja (=Chalaba Titara)

4) La ilaha illa Llah
5) An-Negsha

Get it here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3 hours of Marrakchi Gnawa Lila audio!

Dig it! GnawaMaVie's channel on YouTube has some great Gnawa audio (including some things I've posted on this blog). One fantastic series of clips presents 3 hours worth of audio from a Gnawa lila. The notes say it features Maalem Mustapha Baqbou and Maalem Abbas Baska. I put the 25 clips into a playlist so you'll can listen to them in the correct order. It's not an entire lila (it's missing the entire Buhala, Kohl, Ghabawyin and 3ayalat, as well as pieces of the other suites listed below), but I'm not complaining!

For me, this sort of Gnawa tape blows doors on any studio recording - this is Gnawa music at its organic best - when the music ebbs and flows, expands and contracts in accordance with the vibe in the room, the particular mix of people in attendance, and the needs of trancers.

Entire playlist is embedded above. Individual links are below. Many thanks to GnawaMaVie for sharing these recordings!

Ouled Bambara
Salat ala nabina
Soudani + Baniya
Folane Nhiriza + Youbadi
Boulila + Chabagrou

Lala Fatima + Koubayli
Rabi moulay + Lah lah Moulana
Zid el Male + Youmala

Ftih ar-Rahba
Ftouh Rahba
Ftouh Rahba 2
Hamadi 2


Sidi Moussa
Koubaili Bala
Bala Mousa + La_Ilaha_Illa_Allah_Mousa

Bori Ya Bori + Baniya
Sidi Koumi

Ali Ya Ali
Bouchama + Moulay 'Abdallah
Moulay 'Abdallah Ben Hsein & Moulay 'Brahim
Moulay Hamed

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jilala & 'Aita Down at Bir Jdid - Mohammed L3aouina

Here's one of my fave cassettes - a particularly fierce Jilala tape for ya. Picked this up in the mid-'90s, I think in Marrakech or thereabouts. The tape is from Bir Jdid (which I had to look up on Google) - it's between Casablanca and El Jadida.

The tape doesn't say "Jilala" anywhere on it, but the tunes have that same throb and rasp that identify the Jilala groove. In addition to the gasba flutes and bendir frame drums, you'll hear some qarqaba metal clappers on the tunes labeled "Buwwab". These songs invoke some of the spirits associated with the Gnawa, who are the main users of the qarqaba.

In addition to the trance material (Sidi Slimane, Sidi Chamharouch, Buwwab), the tape also contains "Al-3aloua", a piece usually associated with aita / shikhat. The recording of this song (as well as track 6, another song that seems to be non-Jilala) features only a single gasba, rather than 2. The use of 2 gasba-s adds a loopy dimension to the sound and seems appropriate to the trance material. Whatever the aesthetics of trance textures vs. non-trance textures may be, it is certainly true that most musicians working with trance repertoires also perform other non-trance genres, and that seems to be the case with this ensemble.


1) Intro
2) Chamharouche (? i guess. I can't hear the name in the lyrics, but it is written on the j-card, but then again, the tracks are all out of order too...
3) Sidi Slimane

4) Al Buwwab 1 (edited together from end of side 1 and beginning of side 2)
5) Al Buwwab 2
6) Track 6
7) Al 3aloua

Get it here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jilala - Throb and Rasp

Finishing up my recent set of trance brotherhood music tapes. There are 4 well-known trance-music "brotherhoods" in Morocco - Gnawa, Aissawa, Hamadsha, and Jilala. I'm not sure exactly how widespread the Jilala are. I know they are found in the north, are quite popular around Casablanca, and can be found at least as far south as Marrakesh.

Jilala music is all about throb and rasp. Throb - the acceleration and decceleration within a song, the breathy organic timbre of the gasba flutes, the in-and-out-of-phase frequencies of the paired flutes. Rasp - flutes, voices, bendirs, all buzzy. This is music with a VIBE. The bendir patterns inhabit the 2/4 and 6/8 universes common across Morocco, but I find the drum stroke patterns particularly loopy and provocative.

I don't know where this group hails from. The j-card reads Al-farqa al-jilaliya, al-juz ath-thalith (The Jilaliya Group, vol. 3). I believe I got the tape in Casablanca around '01, but the tape company is based in Fez. Song titles are best guesses. Enjoy.

01) Moulay Amer - Moulay Idriss
02) Sidi Allal

03) Track 3
04) Lalla Malika
05) Moulay Abdelkader

Get it here.

BTW - don't confuse traditional Jilala music with the folk revival group Jil Jilala (whose name translates as Jilala Generation). Like Nass el Ghiwane (aka "New Dervish"), Jil Jilala chose their group name with a conscious reference to Moroccan trance traditions.