Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hmida Boussou - Subtle and Serious Guinbri Sounds

OK - enough with the Pokémon you say? Scraping the bottom of the stash? Au contraire! If chaabi Pokémon ain't your style, consider it an audio palate cleaning, a slice of picked ginger on your sushi platter, to get your ears ready for some full-on tagnawit sounds.

The late Hmida Boussou (of Casablanca, but with roots in Marrakech) was a serious, deep Gnawi maalem. His guinbri spoke volumes, and we're lucky to have some fantastic recordings of him in the Al Sur 5-disc Gnawa Leila series. He didn't record many commercial cassettes in Morocco. This is one of only a couple that I've seen. It appears to date from the 1980s, though it's hard to say for sure. I picked it up around '93, and it's a great one.

The guinbri is prominent in the mix but not distractingly so. One of my pet peeves with Gnawa recordings and electrified performances is that the guinbri is sometimes too far up front in the mix, destroying the dynamic tension between the sound of the guinbri and that of the incessant, clattering qraqeb. That being said, Maalem Hmida's playing is so subtle and consistent that it withstands being so "naked" in the mix. (This is also the case on disc 1 one of the Al Sur series.)

Discographic note: J-card lists the cassette publisher as "Sawt er Rbi3", but cassette shell reads Edition el Kawakib. Song titles, however, appear to be correct.

With a couple of exceptions (Sadie Fulani Hiriza and Wahyana Waye), nothing here duplicates anything Maalem Hmida plays in the Al Sur series.

1) Ouled Bambara (includes Chalaba Titara, Sadie Fulani Hiriza, Wahyana Waye)
2) L3afou Moulana (climax of the Ftih ar Rahba suite. Performed atypically here with interlocking clapping rather than with qraqeb.)
3) 3aicha l-Hamdouchia (includes Baba L-Ghumami, Sidi Muhammad ya Suba3i, Marhaba ya Mimoun Marhaba, 3aicha L-Gnawiya, 3aicha Qandisha) 

Get it here.


  1. Neato maximo! Very sweet, indeed.

    Note: Track number (1) was mentioned as Ouled El-Bambara when the cassette sleeve reads tauntingly in glorious type-face Arabic as 'Awlad A-Sudan' (which also can mean/be Ouled El-Bambara?).



  2. Hi H.H. - oops - yeah, yer right. I always have those songs in my head as Ouled Bambara, though it does read Ouled el Sudan here. As you note, though, the meaning is pretty interchangeable - Gnawa refer to their forbears as coming from the Sudan (i.e., the lands south of the Sahara), and as coming from Bambara, Fulani and Haoussa peoples.

  3. this is the shit. Hartelijk dank.

  4. @tim abdellah:
    Sire, there is a vast 'continet' of Gnawa music featuring Gnawaists from Morocco inside a multi-thread forum (In French, mind you), which has a good reservoir of CDs.
    Check, if interested:

    Note: the page might appear at first glance an empty bumf, but there scrolling under gets ya the goods. There's more than what meets the eye, some say. Enjoy.

    Keep goin', and blawgin' son.



    Moar from fello Blogistanis.



  6. Tim,

    I followed the link to the Al Sur 5-disc Gnawa Leila series. Lots of info but very brief--and tantilizing--samples.

    Where can one find the whole series?

    1. At least 3 of the 5 Al Sur volumes are on Spotify.
      Kind of amazing what you will find on Spotify if you are good with search terms!

  7. Barron, babe...
    The Al Sur Gnawa Leila Series has no e-xistence on the webbers. Not at all. Not unless you go see the whole multiple-CDs on that dumb-as-a-rock blawg 'folksmusic' where the owner's DL-links all lead ya to his Fack-book's link. You won't find anything at fackin' all there.
    Buy, or?


  8. @Barron:

    Dig this: Vol. II of the same name as that lawng-gawn series. I'm Dling it now. Dunno...



  9. @Hammer:
    I know exactly who you mean. Went round and round with that guy for a week without ever getting a straight answer from him.

    Thanks for the link!

  10. Tim,
    This is a great post. Shukran, sadik!