Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm All About That Zaêriya

I noticed recently that an old post of mine on Shikh El Houcine el Khouribgui was getting a lot of hits recently. I also noticed that Moroccan TV (الاولى) had broadcast a documentary on Shikh el Houcine. (I wandered into the living room one evening and found his scratchy viola and distinctive face coming thru the TV!) I wonder if the broadcast led to web searches that led to the stash!

I was able to find the documentary on YouTube. It's all in Moroccan Arabic, including interviews with musicians that worked with Shikh El Houcine, but there are some nice performance clips as well that non-Arabic speakers may enjoy. No live clips of Shikh El Houcine, but clips of other artists performing songs associated with him, including Ould Mbarek Khribgui, Abderrahim Meskini (heard in the stash here), and Stati Abdelaziz.

I thought I had another tape of Shikh El Houcine in the stash, but alas, there were no more to be found. I did, however, find a fine tape by Shikh Mohammed al Khirani Khribgui, who was featured in a post about a year back. This tape, again from the fabulous Production Hicham El Atlas, is a great recording featuring a side-long zaêri performance, couplets following couplets, with slow, groovy riffing alternating with ta'rija-punctuated rhythmic rave-ups for shimmying. I never get tired of this stuff. Hope you enjoy it too!

PS - thanks to those who have taken the time to leave comments. I apologize for not responding recently. I'm hoping to sit down soon and write back - I do appreciate the encouragement, feedback, and conversation!

El Khirani Mohamed - Production Hicham El Atlas cassette 2001
Track 2 (excerpt) of 4

Get it all here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

El Khalfi Bouchaib - Country vs. Auto-Tune

Here's another tape from my summer 2012 trip. I believe I picked this up in Beni Mellal, though the longstanding Sawt Ennachat label is out of Casablanca. The music sounds Mellali to me - heavy on the zaêriya.

On first listen, this sounded to me like pretty standard early 21st century countrified chaabi. However, a couple of cool things stood out on additional listens:
  • The rhythm is pretty kicking, though it stays pretty mechanical throughout. However, the darbuka player gets pretty OUT in some places, embellishing all over the place. (See track 3.)
  • The viola is not auto-tuned, and it hits a few unusual notes/intervals that sound great in contrast to the otherwise perfect pitches. (See track 4)
  • Bouchaib's country vocal phrasing and embellishment often seem to subvert the auto-tune on his voice. The shikha, on the other hand, is auto-tuned to the max. (See tracks 2 and 6)
  • Track 7 ditches the auto-tune for some straight-up pitch-non-perfect zaêri goodness! 

Mastering note: Track 4 fades out quickly at the end of side 1 of my tape. I was able to find an mp3 of the full track over at and grafted it onto the end of my version. So the last 6 minutes of track 4 comes from that source. (Excuse the obnoxious voiceover at 6:30.)

El Khalfi Bouchaib - Ezzine Ihebbel (Sawt Ennachat cassette)
01) Bin Ezzriba u Lhendia
02) Ezzaêri
03) Ba3 Btata
04) Ezzaêri
05) El Âgra
06) Ezzine Ihebbel
07) Ennegara
Get it all here.