The stash abides! YOU WANT THIS TAPE. You should start downloading it now, then come back and read the blogpost.
OK? Let's continue...
Hamadsha songs, apparently from the mid '90s. According to the pixelated Arabic transcription on my homemade j-card (printed from my first computer using my first Arabic word processing program), this cassette was on the Fassiphone label, credited to a group called Ta'ifa al Hamdouchia - Qubbat Sidi Ali ben Hamdouch. I wonder if the group includes Moqaddem Abderrahim Amrani, whose late-90s album on the same label remains one of the stash's most popular offerings.
This is a fantastic album. A short invocation and a shorter coda bookend two looooong tracks of Hamadcha songs. The opening invocation track is just weird - creepy new-agey synthesizer and what could be a guinbri but is hard to distinguish beneath the dripping layers of overdone ambience.
But it's over quickly, and you plunge straight into the organic heaviness of buzzy harraz clay goblet drums driving 10/8 rhythms under blaring ghaita oboes, group male vocals, and the celebratory zgharit ululations of the attendant womenfolk. This is unrushed, unrelenting, insistent stuff. You know it's building toward something frenzied, but it takes it's sweet time. By the end of side 1, you get a sense of where it's going.
Side 2, however, does not continue this progression. In performance, Side 2's long suite of songs would probably precede Side 1's suite: The ghaitas are absent, the songs feature passages of solo singing in addition to the group vocals, the lyrics seem directed to the Hamadcha's eponym (Sidi Ali ben Hamdouch) and the final song of Side 2 is the opening song of side 1. I thought about reversing the running order of the tracks, but I'm kind of digging the way Side 2's songs follow the Side 1's songs. After 20 minutes of ghaitas blaring, their absence leaves sonic space for the vocals to become starkly prominent and memorable. And the opening invocation and closing "coda" of ghaitas seem deliberately placed. So I left the running order as-is, while naming the 2 long tracks "Part 1" and "Part A" to honor the ambiguity.
I had no recollection of having a copy of this. I found it while looking for some good Gnawa music to offer up before Chaabane turns into Ramadan. It was tucked away on the flip side of a Gnawa tape I dubbed years ago. Hope you enjoy it!
Ta'ifa al Hamdouchia - Qubbat Sidi Ali ben Hamdouch (Fassiphone cassette)
|2) Hmadcha (pt. 1)||19:55|
|3) Hmadcha (pt. A)||19:57|
Get it here.