Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Brothers Batma (file under Massnawa?)

Massnawa was one of the more successful groups that followed in the wake of Nass el Ghiwane and Jil Jilala. According to their biography at Yala, they formed in 1980 and gained initial successes in 1981 with the songs "Âoudi Lazrqaq" and "Hemmady".

Brothers Rachid (j-card upper left) and Hamid Batma (upper right) were original members of the group Massnawa, both leaving after 1989. Both eventually joined Nass el Ghiwane - Rachid in the late 1990s, replacing his late brother Larbi on tam-tam and vocals, and Hamid a few years later, playing guinbri in Paco's spot.

Today's album is credited to "The Batma Brothers: Rachid al-Massnawi and Hamid", thus making explicit reference to the former's association with the group Massnawa. The lyrics and music on the album are written by another Batma brother, the late Mohammed, longtime member of the group Lemchaheb. I believe Mohammed is pictured in the photo at bottom left on the j-card.

Further, the j-card makes reference to the Massnawa songs "Moussem Essiyda", Âoudi Lazrqaq" and "Hemmady. I can't quite figure out what is meant by these references - perhaps it means that Batma was the author of these songs as well?

The title track is called "Rjou' Hammadi" - the return of Hammadi, and the final line of the j-card reads "for you, part 2". I assume that this means the title track is meant as a continuation of the story told in the original "Hemmady" track.

These are nice long tracks, rooted in âita melodies and forms, with deep poetic resonances. What I've heard by Massnawa is similar in nature - you can hear lots of good Massnawa over at Yala.

Al Ikhwan Batma - Rjou' Hammadi
1) Rjou' Hammadi
2) Baba Khyar

3) Khelli flousek fjibek
4) Darit âlik

Get it all here.

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