Thursday, May 30, 2019

Yacht Rai - Ready for Summer with the Brothers Bouchenak

Here's a ready-for-summer album by Bouchenak (a.k.a. Les Frères Bouchenak), a longtime fixture on the Moroccan pop music scene, out of Oujda in the east.

I promise you, I resisted the urge to call this Yacht Rai. If you are a longtime visitor to Moroccan Tape Stash, you know that I don't easily suffer facile comparisons with Anglo-American pop genres and groups. (My manifesto is here, but I quickly violated it here.) And it's questionable whether Yacht Rock is even a true genre. (The term originated in a series of YouTube comedy shorts.) But the urge here was strong - colorful tropical shirts, feel-good unthreatening and smooth pop grooves, and era-appropriate facial hair screamed out "Yacht Rock" to me.

But yea, I resisted. No, I told myself, I am strong enough to not give in to the urge to make a silly, superficial comparison. I'm mature enough to say something objective and insightful about this album, to place the interesting Bouchenak band in its proper historical context - this 1992 album coming after a decade of albums which saw them experimenting with combining local forms from the Moroccan east (a musical/cultural terrain similar to Oran in the Algerian west) with a rock band format (electric guitar, keyboard and drums). Similar in some ways, but different in others, from what musicians in Oran and Sidi Bel Abbas were doing with rai music in Algeria around the same time. (Dig, for instance, this unusual 1984 album, still available over at the Snap, Crackle and Pop blog. See also the comments for a wealth of historical info about the Bouchenak Brothers from H. Hammer.)

Verily, I would resist the pull of the Yacht Rai moniker, even though my own personal introduction to them was seeing them onstage in Marrakech in the summer of 1992, where they followed a combined performance by Nass el Ghiwane and Jil Jilala (OMG!!) with the silliest, lightest pop ditties, lip-synched (!!!) in those same tropical shirts (!!!!!!!!), and wondering who in their right mind would put these guys onstage after the clearly deeper and more culturally significant NG and JJ!!!!!!!!!!! (But dammit, if that earworm "Aji Netsamhou" didn't dig its way into my psyche anyway!)

And though this album sort of annoys me (it is really lightweight and poppy, and features no electric guitar or drum set like their earlier work), on second listen, there are some interesting things to appreciate: the keyboard sounds and textures are varied from track to track (unlike some rai albums where keyboards sounds can be monotonous), and the harmony vocal arrangements are quite good. And "Yahdik Allah" actually rocks pretty hard.

I really could have gotten through this entire post without invoking Yacht Rai. Then I stumbled across a video clip for"Jana Essaif", from this album.


Bouchenak الاخوان بوشناق
Edition Sonya Disque/INES cassette (1992)

1) Aji Natsamhou اجي نتسامحو
2) Jana Essaif جانا الصيف
3) Makablouhach ماقبلوهاش
4) Njoum Ellil نجوم الليل
5) Yahdik Allah يهديك الله
6) Laghzal لغزال
7) Charou Lina شارو الين
8) Salam Alikoum السلام علي

Get it all HERE.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

L'AGE D'OR de la musique andalouse - WELCOME with the singer BAJADOUB

Ramadan Mubarak - may your month be full of thankfulness and remembrance, and may you be uplifted and sustained.

In bygone times, the link between Ramadan and the sound of Arab Andalusian music (a.k.a. tarab andalusi, a.k.a. al-âla) was a strong one for Moroccans. RTM (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Marocaine) used to broadcast clips of this music right before and after the sundown call to prayer during the holy month. Back when there was only 1 or 2 TV stations, this meant that for years a huge portion of the Moroccan population would have been at home with this music on the tube as the soundtrack to the breaking of the daily fast around the family table.

I'm not sure whether that's still the case. Even if it is, with the spread of satellite TV, home internet and portable phones in the 21st century, folks are tuned in to many different things now, so it's unlikely that the Andalusian tones are as ubiquitous as they once were at iftar time.

At any rate, here's a nice tape that I dubbed in 1992. My dub is pictured above, but I believe the j-card looked something like this:

Mohamed Bajeddoub was at the time the most renowned singer of the Moroccan Andalusian tradition. (Within a few years, Abderrahim Souiri would rise to similar heights.) LIke Souiri, Bajeddoub rose to fame as a member of the ensemble of Haj Abdelkrim Rais. .

This tape contains a couple of the most famous and popular songs of the Moroccan Andalusian repertoire: "Shams al Âshi" and "Bouchra Lana". The version of "Shams al Âshi" is quite spirited, and segues into some energetic, festive chaâbi.

WELCOME L'AGE D'OR de la musique andalouse with the singer BAJADOUB
1) Shams al Âshi
2) Mawwal 1
3) Mawwal 2
4) Bouchra Lana
5) Mawwal 3

Get it all here.

More Bajeddoub available here:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Houssam Gania - get a copy of his new cassette before they're gone!

Houssam Gania is the son of the late Gnawi mâalem Mahmoud Guinia, and a fine guinbri player in his own right. Like his father, his playing isn't flashy, but is deeply in the pocket.

Hive Mind Records in the UK released this new album by Houssam on cassette (!!!!!) a couple of months back. The j-card design is a lovely homage to the Tichkaphone cassettes of his father. The album contains a great version of the Essaouira version of "Sidi Musa" - a different flavor than you hear in Marrakech, Casablanca, or elsewhere.

As of today there are only 10 copies of the cassette left at Bandcamp. You will still be able to download digitally thereafter, but why not get a copy for your own tape stash!!

Huge props to Marc over at Hive Mind for this release, as well as for the vinyl releases of Mahmoud Guinia and Moulay Ahmed el Hassani over the last couple of years.

Order you copy HERE!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Andalusian Concert with Abderrahim Souiri

Here's a nice album from the late 1990s of Moroccan music from the Arab Andalusian tradition (a.k.a. tarab andalusi, a.k.a. al-âla). This repertoire is understood to trace back in some form to the legendary 9th century musician Ziryab at the court of Cordoba. The tradition flourished in Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada, and Valencia, and was carried on in North African cities during and after the Reconquista.

The singer Abderrahim Souiri is one of the most renowned Moroccan singers currently working in this tradition. His buoyant presence and soaring voice have made him a national musical icon. He is featured often on Moroccan television (including commercials/adverts) and at festivals, performing not only the classical Andalusian repertoire, but also melhun, chaâbi, and amdah repertoires. The j-card lists the orchestra as that of maestro Mohamed Briouel, so this may be the famed Orchestre arabo-andalou de Fes. Both Souiri and Briouel worked under the late maestro Haj Abdelkrim Rais of Fes.

It's nice to hear Arab Andalusian music in a live performance setting, with audible audience reactions. Some of us non-Moroccans first encountered this music via studio recordings released by OCORA or Maison du cultures du monde / INEDIT. Those recordings, while historic and beautiful, didn't give a sense of the excitement this music can generate with an audience of aficionados. This concert recording gives a glimpse of the live tradition in performance.

Ournia has a bunch of Souiri's recordings streaming here. And Mohamed Briouel can be heard on many of the recordings in the CD series Anthologie Al-Âla, musique andaluci-marocaine

As is often the case with Arab Andalusian recordings, the songs on this album are identified by their melodic mode, and rhythmic cycle.

Andalusian Concert with the Artist Abderrahim Souiri (Volume 1)
سهرة اندلسية مع الفنان عبد الرحيم الصويري (الجزء الاول)
SACAV (ساكاڤ) cassette S104

1) Tawashi Al Istihlal تواشي الاستهلال
2) Insiraf Btaihi Rasd Eddil انصراف ابطايحي رصد الديل
3) Mawwal موال
4) Quddam Al Hijaz Al Kabir قدام الحجاز الكبير
5) Mawwal موال

Get it all HERE.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ghita Ben Abdeslam

Here's a nice album in the chanson moderne style by singer Ghita ben Abdeslam. Born into an artistic family, Ghita is the niece of sibling singers Mohammed al-Idrissi and the celebrated Bahija Idris, and daughter of composer Mohammed ben Abdeslam, who composed the songs on this album.

According to the discussion on, the songs "Fellah" and "Allah Âliha Ziara" originally featured lyrics in Moroccan dialect, but were rewritten and recorded here in a more Egyptian dialect. I don't always enjoy west/east Arabic crossovers, but these are pretty nice. She even delivers a nice layali vocal improvisation over the Moroccan beat in this live version of "Allah Âliha Ziara":

Ghita composed lyrics to her own songs later in her career, some in Moroccan, and some in straight-up Egyptian. She retired from performing at a young age (1999 according to her Wikipedia entry), but reportedly promised that she would return one day.

Thanks to Marc of Hive Mind Records for hooking me up with this tape. Moroccan music fans should definitely be keeping an eye on what's new at Hive Mind - a great source for Moroccan music recordings over the last couple of years. More to come on that front very soon!!

Ghita Ben Abdeslam - غيثة بن عبد السلام
Edition Hassania Cassette EH 1169
1) Âziz Âlina عزيز علينا
2) Allah Âliha Ziara الله عليها زيارة
3) Fellah فلاح
4) Âam Fel Ghorba عام في الغربة

Get it all HERE.