Saturday, December 3, 2016

Âita With Guinbri Really Shouldn't Work, But Tagada...

Well whaddya know? The Stash yields another Tagada tape! This dates from around 1992, when Mohamed Louz was still a member of the group. (For some historical info on the group, see our previous Tagada post.)

I wrote previously that Tagada's folk-revival approach was rooted in the âita. This album stretches things a bit, while maintaining a core texture of viola driving the melody, male group or antiphonal vocals and a bendir-driven percussion section.

"Lalla Lgada" leads things off in a typical âita mode, though with what sounds like scissors hearkening back to the âbidat errma. The strange "Ach Ngoul Lik" leads off with a pentatonic viola solo somewhat evoking the amarg tradition of the Soussi rwayes, but then the rhythm enters, featuring a Gnawa guinbri (and some faint qraqeb, I think). It sounds sort of Nass el Ghiwan-ish, except for the continued presence of the viola, which pulls the sound in a different direction. "Âyyitini" goes full Soussi, adding a banjo or lotar and naqqus for that rwayes vibe, though the singing is in Arabic, not Tachelhit.

Finally "Hada Hali" returns viola and bendir to the center of the texture with a real deep âita feel - angular bendir-s, alternating solo vocals evoking shikha song, sliding eventually into trance-based and trance-evoking lyrics, idiomatic viola riffing recalling the sweaty middle-of-the-night when the âita groove gets so heavy and REAL that it crosses over into that zone where all one can do is call prayers upon the Prophet and the saints, hope for deliverance and submit to the groove. At this point in the song, Tagada incorporate the guinbri and qraqeb again. This sounds nothing like Gnawa music, though, resembling much more the saken trance songs of the âita tradition. But with Gnawa signifiers added for intensification? Mixing these elements together is a weird, improbable idea, to which I'm sort of opposed on principle, and yet somehow... it kind of works! Well played, Tagada, well played!

Tagada (تگدة) Edition Hassania cassette EH 1462
01 Lalla Lgada (لالة الگادة)
02 Ach Ngoul Lik (اش نگول ليك)
03 Âyyitini (عيتني)
04 Hada Hali (هذا حالي)

Get it all here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mâalem Hmida Boussou - Precious Gnawa Recordings for Strange Days

Strange Days here in the USA. An erratic blowhard was recently elected president, and we are about to observe a holiday (Thanksgiving) that commemorates cooperation between early English colonists and American natives while corporate/government forces continue an assault on Native American Water Protectors (mainstream English: "protesters") and their allies at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation...

Well, at least there's some good news here at Moroccan Tape Stash - I lost track of this wonderful tape several years ago, and it just resurfaced, hidden away in a box of grad school notebooks. A rare commercial cassette from the great, great Gnawi mâallem Hmida Boussou. I picked it up in the early 90s in Marrakech.

Another cassette by Mâalem Hmida was featured on this blog a long time ago. Today's cassette shares a number of characteristics with it. The j-card lists the same 3 track titles and the imprint "Sawt Errbi3", though the featured photo is different. The cassette shell similarly reads "Edition el Kawakib".

But this is a different album. One track from today's tape (Track 2) does appear on the earlier tape. The present version is the same recording, but it runs somewhat slower than on the other cassette and fades out earlier. The overall sound quality is better on this one too. And the new tracks are fantastic.

I'm thankful that there are some recordings of these Gnawi masters who have left us. The tradition continues to thrive, but styles change, so these recordings are quite precious. It's worth seeking out copies of his recordings in the Al Sur 5-disc Gnawa Leila series.

Blessings, safety and companionship to you all!

Lagnawi Hamid Boussou - لگناوي حميد بوصو
Edition el Kawakib cassette

1) Bangara Bangara - Amara Momadi - Berrma Nana Soutanbi
2) Chalaba Titara - Fulani Hiriza
3) 3yalat - Soussiya

Get it all here.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rouicha Mohamed - Instrumental Musical Masterpieces

For those of you following the US elections: Haven't you had enough already? Haven't you already decided who you're voting for? Aren't you tired of the 24-7 stream of horrible words, words, words from candidates and pundits?

Wouldn't you rather just sit back and listen to a full album's worth of sublime riffing and groovemaking, all instrumental with no words, from the undisputed king of the lotar?

Enjoy. You deserve it. We all do.

Rouicha Mohamed (رويشة محمد) - Instrumental Musical Masterpieces (روائع المعزوفات الموسيقية)
(Tichkaphone cassette TCK 1196)

Track 2 (of 2)

Get it all here.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Moulay Ahmed el Hassani - Accept No Substitute, Unless He Too Rocks

Here's some more of that Moulay Ahmed Elhassani for ya. Track 4 of this album was featured on the Moroccan Tape Stash episode of Bodega Pop Live a couple weeks back. If you didn't get a chance to listen then, you can still hear the program in the archives here. We had a rollicking good time, spinning 3 hours of choice cuts from this blog and beyond. Many thanks to Gary for coming up with the idea and making it happen!

The j-card of this tape reads "Variétés Amazighia" suggesting that it contains a collection of songs sung in Berber. However, on the left side you can see a black stamp that reads "Zman Tghayer", which is the opening track of the album. The songs are all sung in Arabic, driven by more of that slow-jammy flanged-out slinky guitar you know and love.

There is a long paragraph of text on the front of the j-card, enjoining the public to purchase the artist's official tapes only in stores and on the imprint "Sawt El Hassani". I'm guessing there was some specific issue with tape piracy that prompted this message. One hopes that his albums sold on Amazon are properly licensed.

Or, I wonder if there was some issue with this guy:

This cassette is attributed to a Moulay El Hassani, who happens to play the same sort of modified guitar as Moulay Ahmed El Hassani, and in the same style. Is this a shameless attempt at cashing in on the success of an older, established artist by adopting a name so similar that it's basically designed to confuse the consumer? The term "Moulay" is an honorific, translating roughly as "My Lord". So to me, this looks a bit questionable - as if some Hofner-bass playing musician not named "Sir Paul McCartney" decided to release an album of Beatlesque pop as "Sir McCartney". Then again, Moulay could actually be his name, so this could be totally legit.

Well, the proof is in the pudding, right? And this is a pretty groovy tape in its own right. Yes, Moulay's tracks have the same sort of flangey guitar, programmed Middle Atlas rhythms, and male-female antiphonal vocals as found on Moulay Ahmed's recordings. But Moulay's riffing has its own feel, it seems like he stretches out a little more in his instrumental breaks than does his namesake.

Enjoy both!

Moulay Ahmed el Hassani (مولاي احمد الحسني) - Al-zaman Tghayer (الزمان تغير)
Sawt el Hassani (صوت الحسني) cassette, 2010
01 Zman Tghayer
02 Hamli Tqal
03 Ya Li Hjarni
04 3ayb 3lik Ya Labniya
05 Naker Walidik
06 Lokan Fik Lkhir
Get it all here.
There's loads more of his earlier Fassiphone albums online at Ournia.

Moulay El Hassani - مولاي الحسني
Afrah Fes Mondial (افراح فاس مونديال) cassette AF-07
1) Dessrouk a benti wmshaou - دسروك ابنتي وا مشاوا
2) Khellih ijerreb khellih - خليه يجرب خليه
3) Ya lkhayen 3ddebtini - يا لخاين عذبتيني
4) Kindir nferreqek wnti mmwi - كندير نفرقك و أنتي أمي
5) Kent n3aani min guelbi - كنت نعاني من گلبي
6) Lli galou lik ma idoumou lik - اللي گالوا ليك ما يدوموا ليك
Get it all here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Moroccan Tape Stash Of The Air - Live Today on Bodega Pop Live


Moroccan Tape Stash comes alive this week, as I join Gary Sullivan, curator of the great Bodega Pop blog, on WFMU's Give The Drummer Radio for a special episode of his Bodega Pop Live show. You can find us live on the interweb today - Wednesday September 21, 4-7PM PDT, or in the archives thereafter.

Follow this link, and join us for some Gab and Groove, Gnawa and Ghiwane, Chaâbi and Chikhat, and much more!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Inerzaf - The Classic Line-up with Hamid and Lahcen

best guess personnel, clockwise from top center: Lahcen Bizenkad - lead vocal, bendir; Mohamed Abdelghani - guitar, vocal; Hassan Batch - tam tam, vocal; Boubker Ouchtain - bendir, vocal; Hamid Baih (Hamid Inerzaf) - banjo, vocal.

Today's tape comes to you courtesy of Mr Tear, curator of the Snap, Crackle & Pop blog and host of the The Junk Shop radio program. It's a good one, too - a vintage tape from the group Inerzaf (or Inrzaf). Thanks, Mr T!

Inerzaf ("Wedding Guests") came together in the early-to-mid-1980s in the area of Agadir. Like tagroupit contemporaries Oudaden and Ait Lâati, Inerzaf were inspired by the wave of 70s groups like Izenzaren, Archach and Ousman, but drew more heavily on Soussi Berber musical sources, such as the amarg/rwayes tradition. And like Oudaden and Ait Lâati, Inerzaf used the distinctive combination of electric guitar and banjo.

The most renowned version of the group seems to be the one including both composer/singer/bendir player Lahcen Bizenkad and banjoist Hamid Baih. A highlight of this line-up is Hamid's virtuosic banjo playing, which is universally praised in online video comments. This version of the group was together from the mid/late 80s to around 1995. They are pictured on the j-card above and are featured in the live video embedded below:

All members of the group remained active after they split in the mid-1990s. Hamid and Lahcen both lead groups to this day, and the others have done so over the years as well. All of them use the name Inerzaf, and formations often feature more than one member of the earlier group (e.g., Inerzaf Hamid, Inerzaf Lahcen Bizenkad, Inerzaf Boubker, Inerzaf Brothers, Inerzaf Family...)

Inrzaf (انرزاف) Nassiriphone cassette NP183
A1) Ahinou Madrigh Zine - احنو مدويغ الزين - Iskert Lehouz Uwuday - إسكرت الحوز ؤوداي
A2) Allah Allah Ijra Ghikad - الله الله إجرا غكاد

B1) Yan Kirn Zine - يان كرن الزين
B2) Aoulinou Sber Idagh - اولينو صبر يداغ
B3) Samhatagh Nsemhek - صمحتغ نصمحك
B4) Oufighd Ameksa - الفغد أمكسا

Get it all here.

Sources: My info about Inerzaf comes primarily from three online musician biographies here, here, and here. Apologies for any errors or omissions.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Yes Please, I'd Like Mine With Drum Kit and Electric Guitar - Noujoum el Haouz

Ramadan Mubarak to all, and Happy Father's Day!

This is some of the best music ever!

I recently inherited a box full of cassettes with no j-cards. The second cassette I popped in is an album by the AWESOME electric-guitar-drum-kit-and-shikhat group Noujoum al Houz, who were featured in one of the earliest posts on this blog, almost exactly five years ago!

The music of this group remains one of my favorite Moroccan sounds of all time. I've not heard another group doing quite what these folks did back in the late 80s/early 90s. The songs and singing are straight-up âita and women's chaâbi styles. The accompaniment just happens to replace the viola with an electric guitar and to move the bendir-taârija continuum of interlocking rhythms to a drum kit.

Having a guitar take the riffing melodic lead role (usually played by a viola or an oud) - is something I've not heard elsewhere in Moroccan chaâbi. Most electric guitars one hears in chaâbi (and one rarely hears them any more) are relegated to strumming rhythmic patterns and playing chords along with melodies that never used chords before (like in this old Orchestre Asri cassette, h/t Snap Crackle & Pop). This chordal support function in chaâbi was taken over by keyboards by the early 90s. One was more likely to hear melodic picking of electric guitars in Berber music (Moulay Ahmed Elhassani, Mohammed Amrrakchi), or in some of the Ghiwanesque folk revival groups (Oudaden, early Tagada).

As for the drum kit, well it does remain in chaâbi music, but it's never as in-your-face as you'll hear here. (And I mean "in-your-face" in a good way!) In most chaâbi music, the drum kit seems to play a supporting role in the overall texture of the ensemble. It doesn't drive the rhythm section, but rather provides support to the darbuka and bendirs (like dig this Daoudia live clip - you can barely hear the drum kit behind the bendirs, qarqabas, and darbuka, and it never does any fills.) But for a minute in the 80s and early 90s, the drum kit took a fantastic role in a few chaâbi recordings, stepping to the front of the mix, tumbling and accenting in a really exciting way. (In addition to these Noujoum el Haouz recordings, I'm thinking also of these bitchin' Mahmoud Guinia recordings and this excellent anonymous chaâbi tape.)

Today I'm offering a twofer. One is the newly-found cassette on the Kawakib label.

The second, let's call it a bonus album, is the actual tape that matches this j-card that I uploaded with my original post 5 years ago:

I never uploaded the actual tape that goes with this j-card because it is severely damaged. Over half of side A is barely audible due to some magnetic weirdness. Bits of side B suffer from this as well. Don't download this until you've heard the other tapes. If, like me, you can't get enough of them, you will happily sit through the magnetic weirdness in order to spend a few more minutes with this fantastic group.

I've been able to find no information online about the group or its leader, Lâyyadi Abdeljalil. I'm guessing they were a purely Marrakchi phenomenon, since both of the labels they appeared on, Sawt el Mounadi and al Kawakib, were based in Marrakech. Hope to find out more about them some day. In the meantime, enjoy!!

Noujoum el Haouz (نجوم الحوز) - Sawt el Kawakib cassette (ca. 1990)
1) Daouli Ghzali
2) A Moul L3aoud A Wlidi
3) Track 03
4) Sayh Ya Bu Derbala (see YouTube clip above)
5) Ayma Sabri Llah
6) Track 06
7) Suwwelu Moul Dar

Get it all here.

Noujoum el Haouz (نجوم الحوز) - Tansiq ou Tanshit Lâyyadi Abdeljalil (تنسيق و تنشيط العيادي عبد الجليل)
Sawt el Mounadi (صوت المنادي) cassette, ca. 1993

01) Dami
      Alf Lila Ou Lila
      Husa ya Husa
      Waye Wa Houara
02) Ila Bghiti Temchi Ghir Sir
      Ezzine oul Jamal
      Lilwajed Lmra Zwina

This tape has major audio problems on side 1 (the first 13 minutes), and a few on side 2 as well. But the music is so good, I'm uploading the whole thing anyway.

Get it all here.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tagada & Louz Tagada - Venerable Viola-Driven Folk Revivalists

The group Tagada arose in the 1970s alongside other Arabophone "folk revival" groups like Nass el Ghiwane, Jil Jilala, and Lemchaheb. When I first heard Tagada in the 1990s, they struck me as a bit apart from those groups. Where NG and JJ riffed on traditional songs and genres to create new and memorable original songs and styles, Tagada's repertoire sounded to me like straight-up folk material, delivered in a manner faithful to some kind of earlier, more rustic aesthetic.

Tagada's folk sources come primarily from the âita repertoire. Here's some early Tagada from the '70s. With the banjo (which they later abandoned), this recording has a very Ghiwani vibe, similar to Nass el Ghiwane's aita-based classic L-Hassada:

I haven't found much of this early Tagada available online. I would LOOOOVE to hear what THIS version of the group sounds like:

Oh joy, I found some - here's an amazing vintage 9 minute video clip, with electric guitar, even!

According to group member Dekhouche Ahmed Roudani, Tagada, like Nass el Ghiwane, came out of the theatre troupe of Tayeb Saddiki. Troupe members Omar Sayed, Boujemâa H'gour, and Larbi Batma split from Saddiki's group after the production of the play "Al Harraz" to form Nass el Ghiwane, while the future Tagada members remained with Saddiki's group for the next production, "Maqamat Badii Ezzaman al Hamadani" (1971).

In the Tagada I remember from the early 90s, the viola had eclipsed the banjo/guitar as the primary melodic instrument in the ensemble. This amounted basically to a stripped-down folk-chaâbi sound: viola and percussion (sometimes with a plucked banjo or oud) with âita-derived call/response and group singing, without the modern sheen of keyboards or guitars and without the sexy seduction of female shikhat singers.

Tagada usually performs dressed in jellaba robes. This is similar to what would be worn by traditional male folk or popular percussion ensembles like âbidat errma or tkitiqat groups, and in contrast to both the 70s folk revival look (either with groovy vests or the outlaw cowboy look of the album cover above) and the well-dressed-chaâbi-orchestra-lead-singer-with-a-suit-and-tie look. Despite their use of traditional dress and musical sources, one non-traditional practice does stand out - Mohamed Louz's unusual drum configurations: neither the double pair of tamtams (in the "Yahli" clip above) nor the conga/bongo combination (in the "Rgibaoua" clip) are traditional for Moroccan folk music - these appear to be Louz's own idiosyncratic configurations.

The only Tagada-related tape in my collection dates to 1995. I always thought it was by the regular Tagada group, but now that I'm taking a closer look at it, I see that it reads Majmo3at Louz Tagada (Ensemble Louz Tagada). The photo on the j-card features prominent photos of Louz (bottom right) and the violinist (bottom left) who were both previously with Tagada. According to Izza Genini in the film "Tambours Battant", Mohamed Louz split from Tagada in the early 1990s, though he reunited with them for a live session in the film:

Inasmuch as I can tell from YouTube videos, Louz's Tagada group and the regular Tagada group are both quite active still today. The regular Tagada had an insidiously catchy hit back in the late '90s or early 2000's with "Ach Kayn Ach Kayn", which remains a crowd-pleaser:

Sadly, Tagada's longtime violinist Mustapha Mounafie (seen above) passed away in November 2015. Hear more of the regular Tagada ensemble at Ournia.

Majmoat Louz Tagada - Sawt Ennachat cassette (1995)
1) Lalla Rkiya
2) Atay Ya Loulid
3) Saêfni ya Rasi
4) Derriya Kouni Mra

Get it all here.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Pleasures of the Hello Kitty Boom Box - Chaâbi Khadija

Well look what I found inside the Hello Kitty Boom Box - it's a cassette on the Anzaha imprint out of Rabat! I've shared one other Anzaha cassette here, and it was a good one!

I haven't been able to identify the singer featured on this tape. During the faux-live-audience opening banter at the beginning of track 5, I hear what sounds like the crowd chanting "Kha-di-ja, Kha-di-ja". She doesn't sound like Khadija al Bidaouia or Khadija Margoum. Sounds a bit like Khadija Laboat Al Atlas, but I haven't found any recordings of her that sound quite like this one. Please let me know if any of you can identify her.

Whoever this chaâbi-singing Khadija is, this is a jamming cassette in the Casa style with riffy viola, plinky banjo-keyboard, and driving varied percussion section throughout (some darbuka, some taârija, some bendir, and some live and/or programmed drum kit. I'd place it around the mid-aughts - the faux-live-audience, the keyboard sounds, and the absence of autotuned voices remind me of Daoudi cassettes from around '04.


PS, yes, I have a Hello Kitty Boom Box.

Châabi cassette featuring singer Khadija (Anzaha cassette)
Track 5 (of 5) 

Get it all here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

More of that Slinky Middle Atlas Guitar - Moulay Ahmed Elhassani

Here's a 2009 tape from guitarist/singer Moulay Ahmed Elhassani. An early tape of his was featured in one of the first posts on Moroccan Tape Stash. That tape featured singing in Tamazight. It seems that over the years he has produced more albums like this one, singing in Arabic rather than in Tamazight.

News out of Beni Mellal recently has been unpleasant, though some positive outcomes ultimately emerged. Let's enjoy some bluesy Mellali tunes and hope for safer, more tolerant and groovy times ahead.

Moulay Ahmed Elassani - لفنان مولاي أحمد الحسني
Passeport Bla Chane - باسبور بلا شان

Tasjilate Alhane Alhassani cassette BMDA 302.06 (2009)

1) Passeport Bla Chane - باسبور بلا شان
2) Qtlatha Leghbina - قتلاتها الغبینة
3) Raha Telget - راها طلقت
4) Taârida
5) Ach Dani Leblad Had Ennas - اشداني لبلاد الناس
6) Lguelb el M’alem - القلب مألم
7) Assbar Ikafih Llah - الصبار إكافيه الله
8) Taârida

Get it all here.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bouchaib Ziyani: Moroccan Honky Tonk Songs

No Marriage, No Work, No Home.  That's the album title listed on this cassette from Bouchaib Ziyani, singing violist from Casablanca working in the chaâbi - âita continuum. This is some well-produced chaâbi with an insistent but not mechanical percussive drive. Bouchaib's scratchy viola blends nicely with the various synth zither, lute, flute or banjo settings.

These songs are soaked in beer, tobacco, and regret, and Ziyani's singing sounds like he's been there (or is still there). "She drank only half a beer, and started a battle between us" (Track 1). "Give the blonde a drink" (Track 2). "I drank the first beer, I drank the second one. The third one reminded me of my beloved" (Track 5). "Mama, what did I do? I sought my fortune, but in my life achieved nothing. No marriage did I marry, and no work did I find. The evil eye is upon me, but I don't who cast it." (Track 3). The songs mainly stay to the chaâbi end of the continuum, but the long Track 2 moves into âita territory with some nice interplay with a female vocalist and stretches into some extended versifying and riffing, ending up in saken/trance territory. relates that Mr. Ziyani is from Casablanca but made his career in Oujda. Ournia's biography also states that the currently active Bouchaib Ziyani recorded with Khaddouj Zroukia, which would make him the same artist as featured on these 45s in Settatbladi's collection:

However, the 45 pictured above is credited to "The Late Bouchaib Ziani". And although his hair is greying, the artist on our cassette does not appear to be quite old enough to have recorded those 45s. At any rate, enjoy!

Bouchaib Ziyani - بوشعيب الزياني
La Zwaj La Khedma La Dar - لا زواج لا خدمة لا دار
Meftah Music cassette 23/10/2011 (2011)

1) Shrebt Ghir Ness Birra - شربت غير نص بيرة
2) A3ti Lesh'hiba Tshreb - اعطي الشيهبة تشرب
    Moulat Lâyoun Kbar - مولات لعيون كبار
    Htta Wahed Maiâqel 3lik - حتى واحد ما يعقل عليک
    Galt lik Mmuk 3a Toukel Allah - گالت لک امک توکل عائلة
    Jini Nhar Tnine - جيني نهار اثنين
    3lash Tebki Ya Litima - علاش تبكي يا ليتيمة
3) Lemwima Wash Dert Ana - المويمة واش درت انا
4) Wach Qdaw Ila Berku Biya - واش اقضاو الى بركو بيا
5) Fekkeretni Fi Hbibi - فکرتني في احبيبتي
6) Dwaw Fiya 3la Rejliya - دواو فيا على رجليا
7) Dat al Mal Ou Zadet Essa7a - دات المال او زادت الصحة
    Dir Lkhamiya 3a Lbab - ديري الخامية عا لباب
    Alghadi B3id - الغادي بعيد

Get it all here.
Yala has more Ziyani here.

PS, yes I know I'm a complete hypocrite calling these "honky tonk" songs, when a few weeks ago I was ranting about the use of Anglo-American popular music analogies to describe Moroccan artists.

Monday, February 22, 2016

It's Oumguil Time

What time is it? Make no mistake - the watch on the left wrist, the drawing on the cassette shell, the festive star- and comet-shaped holes in the shell, all of them leave you no doubt that it's Oumguil time!

When is Oumguil time? When that Middle Atlas bendir-driven groove kicks it off, when Mustapha calls out the name of your town, be it Ouled Youssef, Fkih Ben Salah, Khouribga, Tangier, or even Milano, when he calls out "Aji nqessrou, rah ellil tawil / Wa khuya nnsaou fih lmachakil (Come on let's stay up, the night is long / Brother, we'll forget our troubles in it)" - yep, it's Oumguil o'clock!

Add this one to the previous Oumguil twofer we served up - You've got yourself a good night's worth of shimmying and derdeg-ing. Enjoy!

Mustapha Oumguil - Âmmer Daoud Ma Iâoud (Tassjilat El Hajeb cassette 28/10, 2010)
1) Elli Ma Jal Ma Âref Bhaqq Errjal
2) Khrejti Âliha ya Ellil
3) Awah Awah Ktab Âliya
4) Âmmer Daoud Ma Iâoud
5) Aji Nqessrou Rah Ellil Tawil
6) Zaêri

Get it all here.