Category Archives: al-andalus

BEYOND DIGITAL BEACH BOOKS – part 1

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[photo by Beyond Digital's Juan Alcón Durán]

We’re been putting a lot of work into preparing for the June stretch of Beyond Digital, when our team of eight people (and rising!) will converge in Casablanca, Morocco… Website coming soon, along with a proper update.

But for now: part one of the Beyond Digital Summer Reading List! An outpost of the Dutty Artz/Mudd Up Book Club. I’ve been asked a few times for some BD related texts, so here you go: a handful of books I’ve read recently that struck chords with how I’ve been thinking about BD, in one way or another.

 

BEYOND DIGITAL SUMMER READING LIST: part one

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1. Pitch Perfect, my Auto-Tune essay for Frieze magazine, originally published in 2009.

The best article on Auto-Tune or your money back… Carolyn (Beyond Digital’s Paris point person, who’ll be joining us in Casa) just conducted a video interview with Moroccan producer Wary, who makes an appearance here.

 

2.The Radicant – Nicolas Bourriaud

Yes, the “French science fiction writer” from Hennesey Youngman’s hilarious video. This book is cool though. St. Nic is all about translation. We’re into it. (So is Michael Larson.) Bourriaud writes: “Translation may represent that ‘basic ethical effort’ that has been mistakenly associated with recognition of the other as such. For translation always implies adapting the meaning of a proposition, enabling it to pass from one code to another, which implies a mastery of both languages but also implies that neither is self-evident.” The Radicant is a slim book (perfect for the subway), which explains why I can’t find it right now. Probably on my desk. . .

“As a critical methodology, multiculturalism resembles a system for distributing meaning that assigns individuals to their social demands, reduces their being to their identity, and repatriates all meaning toward an origin regarded as a political revealer. It is this critical model that is in crisis today, this multiculturalist version of cultural diversity that must be placed in question, not in favor of a systematic universalism or a new modernist Esperanto, but rather in the context of a new modern moment based on generalized translation, the form of wandering, an ethics of precariousness, and a heterochronic vision of history.”

 

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3. Bab El-Oued, Merzak Allouache

This is a novelization of Allouache’s Bab El-Oued City film. It’s not great — it’s not even set in Morocco — but hey, how you gonna be mad at a novel that opens with the theft of a mosque’s loudspeaker (a handsome young baker throws it into the sea) and chronicles its impact on a working class Maghrebi neighborhood? Allouache sketches a social realist panorama, with a subplot involving romance novel smuggling.

Coming in Part Two: one of the best books about music, ever (hint: Umm); non-annoying non-Beat avant-garde lit about the aftermath of a terrorist bombing written by an expat in Marrakesh; sci-fi set in Fez dealing with biological slavery and a new mode of sexuality; Appadurai’s ethnoscapes, and more…

In the meantime, some heat from the first volume of DJ Amine’s Maghreb Mix Party series:

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Bakr – N’reserve Wenelhagha

TO REPEL GHOSTS

a quick reminder that tomorrow is the Nettle concert / tea ceremony event in Brooklyn, with Korean experimentalists Cha Jun Sim & Lamin Fofana. Nettle is my band project, we’re releasing an album later this year and this is our last show until late summer… so if you’re curious, now’s the time!nttl-vp-flyer

more info here. then there’s Nettle’s low-info site. Lastly, there are those in the band who believe that we should have a facebook page.

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This was originally going to be a post about Houcine Slaoui, but I have to go to band practice. . .

NADIA BEN YOUSSEF | STRANDED IN THE STRAIT

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I was going to post some music from my upcoming CIAfrica mixtape, but it’s late, I’ve got headphones in, and life gravity pulls me towards this contemplative acoustic stuff right now, so that’s what we get. Hawzi/chaabi from one of Algeria’s finest non-rai vocalists, Nadia Ben Youssef (French bio). :

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Nadia Ben Youssef – Ya Baba L’Hnine

Hawzi functions like a bridge between classical Andalusian music and contemporary Algerian chaabi. A bridge. Between Africa and Europe there’s only a few miles of water — in instances like these a boat or residency permit is a bridge and a continent offers a life of movement, possibility. Or its opposite:

Here’s the trailer for friends’ documentary film on Punjabi immigrants suffering years of legal limbo in Ceuta (Spanish town inside Morocco), where they wait in the forest. Stranded in the Strait. Some of these men left their homes over four years ago. The independent filmmakers are looking for funding to complete the doc’s post-production this fall – you can help out here.

Stranded in the Strait- 6m Trailer.

CHAABI: AL FIRKA AL DAHABIA

It is a sad and beautiful world. People die, absence happens, tiny ants eat through wood and houses fall down. Our task: to take care of ourselves. to remember everything. to open the hand. to listen.

Music helps, even when words escape us.

These two tracks come from an excellent album, Chaabi Marocain. I love Moroccan chaabi for many reasons, sliding violins and rhythms whose complexity is social, requiring multiple players interlocking, structures of more than one.

Listen to the way that in the first song (this is two tracks on the CD, which is a nonstop medley) a 4/4 beat accelerates into the polyrhythm around 33 seconds in. Life is good. Irrepressibly so – how can you not be moved? We dance, we die. The melody from the second one versions a song – a wedding song if I remember correctly – called 55 in Arabic, a word I write as Hamza Hamzin, weird oral fragments transliterated into Castillian Spanish: they way I learned them. To step towards a language, a tongue, a body. To be gentle with what we love. To dance. Magic numbers painted on a shuttered storefront. Underneath the pavement, the beach! But underneath the beach, more pavement. Life’s line – the space of possibilities – is thin. To burn these minutes in a useful way. If you can’t count out the music let your body, it can. The songs stop abruptly because this is a medley; they are not supposed to stop.

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Al Firka Al Dahabia – tracks 19+20

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Al Firka Al Dahabia – Hamza Hamzin

FESMAATIC

Künstlerisch wird die Zukunft eine hochspannende Angelegenheit sein! digitaleevolution djrupture christophvoy spex321

German magazine Spex has a long interview with me in their current issue. On “Digital Evolution”, masterpieces, hard disk failure and forgetting, and music biz economics in the 00s. (Or at least I think that’s what it’s about, we did the interview back in February…)

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it’s true: “DJ /rupture to release new mix album“. title: Solar Life Raft. Co-produced with Matt Shadetek, about 30% of it is original material & remixes from us. Link has some tracklist & other info.

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Jem Cohen just returned from Tangier, where he was doing a special project with Luc Sante! (whose Low Life is a must for New York underbelly reading). Jem kindly brought back a stack of CDs for me, including some hard-to-find 70s requests…

Here are two tracks from the bunch. Fes Maatic, a chaabi group I’d never encountered. Moroccan chaabi bands play like a DJ, all the songs segue into each other, it’s a work of groove and momentum.

I miss proximity to this music.

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Fes Maatic

ALTERNATING MEADOWS

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[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

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Ensemble Laarousi Lahen – Kalbha Safi Hlib – His Heart is Pure as Milk / Ajiou Alayal – Come Together (20MB)

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