Saturday, August 20, 2022

Abdelkader Ariaf - Mlih Mlih

Here's a nice album of Riffi pop tracks from singer/songwriter Abdelkader Ariaf. I picked this up in Tangier in 2001. 

Ariaf was born in Nador and lives in Rotterdam [1]. His Facebook page indicates that he performs often in Europe, but I could find little biographical information about him online. There are a couple of video interviews with him on YouTube ([1], [2]), but they were in Tarriffit (which I don't speak) and did not appear to address the beginnings of his career or its trajectory. He first traveled to Europe in the year 2000, but I don't know how long he's been living there. 

Ariaf is active on social media (Facebook, YouTube, TikTok), and continues to release new music. In addition to YouTube, much of his music can be found on the international streaming platforms (Apple, Spotify, Amazon), including albums that date back to 1996. This particular album doesn't seem to be available anywhere.


Abdelkader Ariaf
Mlih - Mlih

Disco Melilia cassette

A1 Wazzay Adhzouigh وزي أذزويغ
A2 Amsrqigh أمسرقيغ
A3 Adhqsagh Idoudan أذقسغ إضوضان
B1 Thite Inou ثيط إينو
B2 Allah Ihennik الليهنيك
B3 Mlih Mlih مليح مليح

320 | FLAC

[1] "Welcome Thamazight  ويكلوم تمازيغت" Episode 8 الحلقة الثامنة, Directed by Said Azar إخراج سعيد أزار, SNRT 8 Tamazight 2020.

[2]  "Abdelkader Ariaf عبد القادر أرياف", Episode of "Rqehwa Akd Unazur قهوة مع فنان", Directed by Mourad Mimouni إخراج مراد ميموني, NadorCity 2015.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Ahmed Ould Kaddour - Moul El Âloua

"El Âloua" is one of the most famous and moving pieces of the âita repertoire, a staple at weddings and other parties, performed both by modern chaâbi groups and by traditional groups of chikhate. Like most âita songs, it is not associated with a single performer but rather belongs to the collective patrimony. However, the best version of the song, according to many, is that of singer and lotar player Ahmed Ould Kaddour.

Ould Kaddour was born in 1934 in the town of Ben Ahmed. After performing locally for some years, he began in 1960 to divide his time between Ben Ahmed and Casablanca. Kaddour is sometimes called Moul El Âloua, i.e., owner or master of "El Âloua". 

The term âloua in Moroccan Arabic means "small hill" or "hillock". The lyrics of the song "El Âloua" recount the itinerary of a pilgrimage to a specific hillock near Ben Ahmed where a group of saints' shrines are located. According to âita aficionados and performers, Ould Kaddour's version of "El Âloua" is considered the best because of his knowledge of the geography of the region and the location of the individual shrines [1]. Some say that he was the first performer to introduce this level of detail into the song [2]. Ethnomusicologist Alessandra Ciucci writes that the song is "celebrated for its ability to convey images and emotions stirred by the sacred voyage, and for allowing the audience to have the sense of participating in this experience as if it is occurring." [1] (For a deep dive into "El Âloua", its lyrics, the way it emerges in the course of performance, and the crucial role of women performers in shaping it, see Ciucci's excellent article, cited below.)

I am quite taken by Ould Kaddour's lotar playing. Whereas most lotar players use a plectrum, Kaddour strums the strings with his fingers, resulting in a more delicate sound, It reminds me, at times, of the sound of the Mauritanian tidnit

Ahmed Ould Kaddour remains alive and well as far as I can tell. The most recent news I found was about him being honored at the 2017 National Festival of the Lotar. [3] 

Discographic itinerary (for those who enjoy these things):

  • A friend gave me this tape many years ago. It came with no j-card - only a a piece of paper with "No. African Folk" written on it.
  • Being a human from the cassette era, I have only recently discovered that if I ask my phone to identify a song, Google will often be able to identify it when I stick my my phone near a speaker. This has transformed my last few months of non-playlisted radio listening (I'm looking at you KALX).
  • I recently played this tape and, having no clue who the artist was, I half-jokingly asked Google "What is this song?". To my astonishment, the Google lady came back with "Mrida - Aandak Takhlae - Lahssab" by Ahmed Oueld Kadour.
  • I searched for the track online and found this recording on YouTube. The song wasn't an exact match, but it was definitely the same artist! (I guess the lotar riffing was close enough for Google to consider it a match.)
  • Armed with the artist's name, I hit the internet running, scouring for information. The aforementioned YouTube track was uploaded from the now-not-very-user-friendly-and-all-old-links-are-now-dead However, Ournia seems to have all the tracks previously found at Yala. A number of Ould Kaddour tracks can be found at Settatbladi's page on the Internet Archive - where I found matches and titles for some of the music on my tape. (I wish I could find the title for Track 3 of the tape - the 6-minute unmetered introduction to the track is phenomenal.)
  • The long Track 2 begins on side 1 and ends on side 2 of the tape. I was able to stitch them together into an uninterrupted single track.
  • Finally, I grabbed the artwork from the only Kaddour tape I saw on Discogs. It's not the same album as mine, but I was able to work with the graphic, so there you go.

Hope you enjoy this tape. And hope you're all having a lovely summer!

Ahmed Oueld Kadour أحمد ولد قدور
Sakhi Disque cassette الساخ ديسك

01 Moul Qoubba - Merchoum Sdar
02 El Âloua - Hbiba
03 Track 3

320 | FLAC


[1] Alessandra Ciucci (2017) "Performing ‘L-ʿalwa’: a sacred and erotic journey in Morocco", Ethnomusicology Forum, 26:2, 151-170.

[2] "Shikh Ahmed Ould Kaddour الشيخ أحمد ولد قدور". Episode of Sounaâ al fourja
صناع الفرجة, Directed by Larbi Toto إخراج العربي توتو, Al Aoula 2010.

[3] "سطات: مهرجان لوتار في دورته السابعة يكرم الشيخ ولد قدور مبدع «العلوة» (Settat: 7th Edition of the National Lotar Festival Celebrates Shikh Ould Kaddour, Originator of El Âloua)". Article published at Casa 24, December 3, 2017.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Al Boudali Ahmed - New Mountain Variety

New Jeblia Selections is probably a better translation, but New Mountain Variety (which Google gave me as a translation of  منوعات جبلية جديدة) sounds like something you'd find in the Stash.

And a nice variety it is, too, provided by the artist Al Boudali Ahmed, about whom I can find absolutely no trace on the interwebs. Side A is a nice long track of taktouka jabalia, and side B contains two tracks of Jbala-flavored chaâbi. Here's a pinch:

I picked up this tape during my visit to Tangier in 2001. Find additional varieties from Northern Morocco in my 2013-14 posts here and here.

Al Boudali Ahmad الفنان البودالي احمد
Visa Disque cassette 10 ڤيزا ديسك

A1 Taktouka Jbalia
A2 Bonus Derdeg
B1 Moulay Bouchta
B2 Jibouli Ezzine Nchoufou

320 | FLAC