[View of Fez medina, Vince Miller’s flickr]
The land of Jbala is usually fairly green but not necessarily fertile. It is well-watered in winter but most often furrowed. The atmosphere can become very special whenever the marine influence suddenly turns from Atlantic to Mediterranean, creating that peculiar tension of the air which newborns are particularly sensitive to. . . It is within this universe, in turn bucolic and wearisome, that the poetry of the taktoba jabala has set its great universal themes: the softness of spring, almond tree flowers, clear water, milk, honey, olive oil, and the first blush on the cheeks of a beautiful black-eyed cousin who can also hurt or burn up the soul of the bard. . .
In this greatly eroded land, almond and olive trees alternate with meager meadows. Many of the inhabitants have emigrated to Fes. The timeless economic, artistic, and religious relationship with the Arab-Andalusian capital illustrates a paradigm quoted first by Plato and later by the Moroccan historian Ibn Khaldoun: the harmony of a true civilization can only come from a deeply rooted relationship between town and country. This, although masked by a certain degree of aggressive industrialization, is powerfully illustrated by the taktoba jabalia of Laarousi Lahcen.
– album liner notes by Marc Loopuyt