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

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Mahmoud Gania - More from the Crazy Drum Kit Session

This post is a sequel to one of the earliest posts on Moroccan Tape Stash back in 2011. That post shared the tape Voix de Casablanca VDC 53, one of the wildest tapes in the Stash - raucous drum kit rolicking and punctuating along with in-your-face breakneck qarqabas, and non-stop thumping guinbri. 

Today I'm sharing VDC 51, which duplicates a fair amount of what's on VDC 53. Of its six tracks, only 3 do not appear completely or partially on VDC 53. These 3 new tracks (A1, B3, and B4) do not feature the outlandish drummer, but from the sound of the mix and the musicians, they sound like they come from the same recording session. Of the 3 overlapping crazy drummer tracks, 2 contain shorter versions of things on VDC 53 (A2 and B1), while one contains extended material not found on VDC 53 (B2).

So in addition to sharing the full version of VDC 51, I'm also sharing an EXPANDED EDITION of VDC 53, incorporating 4 additional glorious minutes of insane drum kit mayhem not featured on the original tape. I was going to call it The Complete Warren Beatty Sessions since, as I noted before, the gentleman pictured on the j-card, who we assume to be the drummer, does bear a resemblance to the actor. However, one holds out hope that there is a VDC 52 cassette out there somewhere that may contain even more drum madness from this session.

VDC 51 shell

Discographic Questions: The two albums VDC 51 and VDC 53 are clearly related - the cassette company is of course the same, the photos show Mâalem Mahmoud in the same clothes at the same studio, and the music on the two tapes appears to come from the same session. However, I do have questions. The cassette shells for both tapes do not read Voix de Casablanca, but rather Fassiphone. The track names listed on each j-card are completely different from the songs featured on each cassette. And the singing doesn't really sound to me like Mâalem Mahmoud. So I have wondered whether in fact these cassettes are matched with the correct j-cards. If it were just one cassette, it would be plausible that the wrong tape ended up in the wrong jewel box at the tape shop one day. However, for the same error to happen to 2 different, clearly related tapes, is a bit much to believe.

So the questions remain: Is this really Mahmoud Gania? Are these tapes really meant to accompany these j-cards? If so, why are the track names wrong? Who is the funky drummer and where can I hear more of him? Maybe we'll learn more, maybe not. At any rate, I hope you enjoy these, and I wish you all a good Ramadan coming up.

L-Gnawi Mahmoud Gania لڴناوي محمود ڴنيا
Voix De Casablanca cassette VDC 51 صوت البيضاء

A1) Allahuma Selliw 3la Nbi Ou S7abu Lillah
       Sala 3lik Ya Nabi
       Marrakchia a Lalla
       Aicha ou Mali
       Moulay Atferrej 3lia
       Salla 3lih
A2) Lalla Mira
       Moulati Fatma
       Moulay Abdellah Cherif
B1) Salbani 'Awju Koman Aliya
B2) Galuli Toubi
       Wali Moulay Driss
B3) Allah A Baba Mimoun
B4) Mwi A Mwi Wach Qdaw Ila Berhu Bia

L-Gnawi Mahmoud Gania لڴناوي محمود ڴنيا
Voix De Casablanca cassette VDC 53 صوت البيضاء

Moroccan Tape Stash Expanded Edition 2022

01) Lalla Mira
       Moulati Fatma
       Moulay Abdellah Cherif
       Bouya Ribu
       Lemwima Hada Mektab
       Llahi blik ma blani
       Selliw 'ala Nnbi
       Llah Llah Nabina
02)  Galuli Toubi
       Wali Moulay Driss

03)  Jilali Dawi Hali
       Lagnawi Baba Mimoun
04)  Salbani 'Awju Koman 'Aliya
       Lalla L'arosa
       Mulay Abdellah Cherif
       Lalla Fatima Zohra
       Lahbib Sidi Rasul Allah
       Sla u Salam 'alik a ya Taha