Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rouicha - Ayam Essghur Zina

Here's a nice album from the late, sorely-missed Rouicha. I picked this up in 2012 - The Tichkaphone catalog number seems to indicate (from my estimate) that it dates from the mid-1990s.

I particularly like the opening lotar solo on track 2 - Rouicha has such a fluid, rapid, percussive strum, it sounds almost flamenco! (Or maybe it's just that the melody sounds like the Concierto de Aranjuez...) At any rate, enjoy!

We've got more Rouicha in the stash here and here. And Yala has scads of Rouicha available for listening, though not this particular album.

Rouicha Mohamed - Tichkaphone TCK 1241
Ayam Essghur Zina ( أيام الصغر زينة)

01 Ayam Essghur Zina
02 Suwwelt Rasi Lyoum (excerpt below)
03 Feen Tghib Lahbib
04 Khellit Sammu7 Same7ni

Get it here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Groupe Iâachaken (ft. Omar Sayed) Vol. 2&3 - Who's Gonna Pull the Cart?

Two more lovely tapes today from Groupe Iâachaken. Like their first album, Iâachaken's second and third albums feature the participation of Nass el Ghiwane's Omar Sayed. I wish I could decode the image of the donkey cart on the 2 accompanying j-cards. On 1993's Magarn Ifassen, Omar Sayed is pulling the entire group, who sits on the cart. On 1994's Mani Nhra, the roles are reversed, and Groupe Iâachaken is pulling him, though apparently Omar achieves this turnaround by dangling a television in front of them. Make of it what you will...

These albums were released on Edition Sonya Disque, a label out of Casablanca whose tapes I first saw in 1993 and who released a lot of music in the '90s and beyond. Nass el Ghiwane released albums on the label and Paco released solo albums on it. Najat Aatabou put out some albums with the label as well.

Magarn Ifassen features qarqaba on several tracks, ramping up the group's generally laid-back feel a bit. The last tune on Mani Nhra, unlike anything else by the group, features ambient keyboard accompanying Omar Sayed's opening mawwal . It's a strange combination - the folk-revival acoustic instruments with the modern sheen of a synthesizer, but it works nicely here. (Much better than it does on a bizarre Nass el-Ghiwane tape I have...). And Omar's mawwal is an interesting one - the vocal ornamentations sound Indian in places. Quite lovely.

By the way, it's nice to hear Omar singing and reciting in Tachelhit. Nass el Ghiwane had never recorded a song in Berber.  News stories last summer indicated that a new album would soon be released, featuring their first-ever song in Berber. However, I've seen no further information about the album. Has anybody heard any news about the album's delay?

From the j-card of Magarn Ifassen:
Lyrics: Lamghari Hamid
Music: Farouq Saîd
Arrangement: Omar Sayed

Groupe Iâachaken - Magarn Ifassen (Edition Sonya Disque 325)
01) Magarn Ifassen (ft. Omar Sayed)
02) Gar Amoudi
03) Tifawin
04) Timila
   Get it here.

Groupe Iâachaken - Mani Nhra (E.S.D. 490)
01) Mani Nhra (ft. Omar Sayed)
02) Our Nsendem Yan
03) Issegueassn
04) Illi Hna (ft. Omar Sayed)
    Get it here.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Groupe Iâachaken ft. Omar Sayed

The group Iâachaken was a Nass-el-Ghiwane-style folk revival band in the early 1990s. I don't think they ever achieved the notoriety of other groups who worked in this style and sung in Tachelhit, such as Izenzaren or Oudaden (whom you can check out over at Snap Crackle & Pop), but they did release at least 3 lovely albums.

I saw Iâachaken perform live in June 1992 at the Palais Badiî, Marrakech, as part of the Festival Maroc Arts 92. Their song "Arnsghal" wiggled its way into my head, so I sought out this tape. It's one of the catchiest songs I've heard!

Omar Sayed of Nass el Ghiwane (pictured floating above the band in the j-card photo) had some relationship with the group. The first tune on the tape features him reciting poetry and performing a mawwal (lyric-less vocal improvisation). Subsequent albums from Iâachaken also mention and picture him. I think he may have served as a producer or musical director. I've got a couple other tapes of the group, which I'll try to share soon.

By the way, I wonder if there were groups working in the Ghiwane style that sang in the Riffi or Middle Atlas Berber dialects (Tariffit and Tamazight). I've only ever heard groups singing in Tachelhit. Please comment if you know of any!

The guinbri player from Iâachaken, Radouane Raifak (lower left on the j-card), later joined Nass el Ghiwane after the 1995 departure of Paco Abderrahmane.

Said Iâachaken (top left in the group photo) appears to have remained active as well, releasing an album in 2008, which you can hear over at Yala.

And finally, the hook from "Arnasghal" was so stuck in my head back in the day that I wrote some English lyrics to sing to it. This evolution was continued by my dear friend and musical co-conspirator Raul Rothblatt, who arranged and transformed the tune, and added it to the repertoire of his Afro-Hungarian fusion band Dallam-Dougou in New York as "On My Way (Oy Yoy Yoy)", which you can hear on the group's album New Destiny. From guinbri and banjo to cello and balafon!

Groupe Iâachaken (featuring Omar Sayed) - مجموعة إعشاقن بمشاركة عمر السيد
01) Han Tsemer Louqt (ft. Omar Sayed)
02) Taghit
03) snippet
04) Arnsghal
05) Mata Khda Ijraan

Get it here.