Sunday, July 8, 2012

Most Psychedelic Gnawa Tape Ever

Before Chaabane gives way to Ramadan, here's a good one - one of the strangest Gnawa cassettes I've ever found. Picked this up around 2001 in Essaouira. Nothing about the j-card gives a clue about the psychedelic grooves contained within.

Sounds drop in and out: Indian tabla and bol drum syllables, jaw harp, darbuka, English recitation, guinbri, gong, digeridoo, and various other sounds. But the texture never seems cluttered - all sounds have plenty of space to breathe. I'd love to know more about this album and who collaborated on it! (Especially, who in the world is doing the English recitation!)

Mahmoud's singing is fantastic - relaxed, often in the lower register. Some of the tracks are built around songs from the Gnawa repertoire (tracks 1, 5 and 6), while others appear to be original to this project. The English recitations are riffs on the Arabic lyrics (or vice versa). And ever think you'd hear Mahmoud sing in fus7a (Standard Arabic)? Check track 8!

Despite the fact that the serial number on the cassette shell matches that of the j-card, none of the listed song titles have anything to do with the songs on the cassette. Track titles here are my own:

1)  Jilali Bouâlem

2)  Lâayoune Dahika
3)  Jwedi ya Jwedi
4)  Allah Yuhibb Alkurama
5)  Fofo Denba
6)  Berrma Nana Soutanbi
7)  Alhubb Wahid Wa Eddunya Wahida
8)  Africa Muwahhada
9)  Alhaqiqa
10) Al Umm

I hope to drop another cassette before Ramadan starts. I may not post at all during Ramadan, as I'll be fasting as well as traveling. In case you don't hear from me between now and the end of Ramadan, here's wishing blessing, grace, and peace upon you all!

Gnawadelica here.


  1. I can hardly contain myself! Many thanks for this Tim and blessings on you and all yours.

  2. okay, i'll sign up to check it out, hahaha... most psychedelic ever?? wow!!!!!

  3. shukran, Mr Tim! Mahmoud is the Man.

  4. I must echo Peter's sentiments...WOW!! This is quite incredible - totally unlike any Gnawa music I've heard previously. Does Mahmoud Guenya's capacity for experimentation know no bounds?
    Have fun Tim!

  5. And, I 'ave to second Mr. Tear's over-sentiments there: it's one of the most 'fusioned' sounds that came from an International Morocco.

    Have fun in fasting this Ramadan, Tim (*Tajin and Moroccan sweets can never taste any better than feasting on'em during Ramadan). Ramadan Kareem.

    Bi'saha wel'slamah ya '5chouya!


  6. Nice work on putting together a very interesting post. Fabulous ideas and very helpful information. Well thought out and well written.
    Cassete a MP3

  7. this sounds amazing many thanks!

  8. hey you might actually be interested in hearing this cassettes uploaded: gnawa special + chaabi music (do you happen to read/speak arab?)

  9. this is the best sh** I ever heard! I want to give Mahmoud my money though, how do i do that??

  10. Glad y'all liked this one - I'm crazy about this tape!

    How to get money to Mahmoud? Well there are a few CDs and mp3 downloads for sale, but hard to say whether he'd actually see any money from your purchase of them.

    Amazon has one of Mahmoud's Tickhaphone albums available as mp3 download at the great price of $4.45:

    They have another album of his that I've never heard, but the clips sound decent:

    There are some nice things on the collaboration with Pharoah Sanders/Bill Laswell:

    Otherwise, guess you'll have to get to Essaouira and see if you can get to a ceremony!

  11. Thank You so Much!
    Nice nice!

  12. Incredible! Thank you for all your time and energy spent.

  13. Hi, thanks for your blog and the lot of tapes we can find here!
    i bought this tape of Mahmoud a long time ago (and i still have it), i remember havind been a little frustrated at the beginning because the songs were very short but it is a good one above all!

  14. Hi, i sell this tape here if interested:

  15. You are off course aware, that the spelling of the late maâlem is not the usual one, right? His real name was Mahmoud Gania, and most times he was refered to as Mahmoud Guinia, where the "guinia" most likely was an artist- or nickname, which is often the case with among the gnawa. These days - a little more than two years after the tragic passing of Maâlem - his legacy is preserved by his widow, Malika Al Machhour. (I have been a close friend of the family for many years, and have worked with both Maâlem Mahmoud and his younger - and the only remaining - brother, Maâlem Mokhtar Gania. He is so far preserving the legacy of their mutual father, the late Maâlem Boubker Gania,but also other members of the family shows great promise, first and foremost Maâlem Said Boulhimas, married to the daughter of the other late brother, Maâlem Abdelah Gania, Youssouf Outanine (son of their sister, the moqadma of Zaouia Sidna Bilal, Zaida Gania) and off course the young son of Maâlem Mahmoud Gania, Houssam Gania - not yet a maâlem, but extremely talented and with the baraka.

  16. One of the best things I have heard in a long time, thanks!!