Category Archives: gnawa

GNAWA STEPPAS

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Bob Marley casts a long shadow. Most reggae influenced music from locales without a substantial Caribbean population takes its cues from roots reggae. In much of the world, it’s as if 1985′s Sleng Teng revolution never happened, with ‘reggae’ bands still playing cover songs from twenty or thirty years back.

On the flip side, there are hotspots – in Germany, corners of Africa, Yokohama, etc. – where the scene is shockingly up-to-date, contemporaneous, apace.

But that’s rare in Morocco, where ‘reggae fusion’ usually means rootsy cheese, or at least dubby cliches. So it’s refreshing to hear a Moroccan-Parisian take on UK steppas (i’ll take whatever i can get, patiently waiting for Stephen McGregor’s influence to go global) –

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Gnawa Njoum Experience – Kami Ni Mantara (from Boum Ba Clash)

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and to keep the weekend calm, Dr Auratheft’s recent Gnawa mix, Moulay El Hassan Essaouira: tracklist. direct mp3 (59 MB)

OUDADEN MEMORY DEPOT

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oudaden

Spacious and peaceful, gentle Amazigh production from one of the big groups in this style. Banjo, reverb, delay, more reverb, more delay, and those hard-panned drum machines.

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Oudaden – track 3

i’ve been jamming to this song for awhile, thinking it was something completely different… turns out I nabbed it from Awesome Tapes. Full k7 here.

Oudaden neglects what appears to be their own blog(s), and some fans neglect kindly maintain what appear to be Oudaden fan blog(s).

It’s interesting to think about the decay of online information – from dead links slowly cutting apart our little connective webs to fierce new spam algorhythms quietly gumming up the sites you visit – or mimicing them. Some hacker specializing in legacy databases breaks into your old WordPress admin board and replaces everything with links to discount pharmaceuticals. 10 years from now? 5? How do the InterNests age?

benzedrine

as we think about degraded webs (allegedly spiders on benzedrine but i’m skeptical)…

let’s listen to more peaceful Moroccan music: faraway-sounding Maalem Mahmoud Gania, also twelve minutes long, as long as it needs to be.

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Mahmoud Gania – Essaouira
Gania previously mentioned here.

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SUMMER MIX, GNAWA, GONG

okay, its only late May, so other contenders will surely emerge. But for now – mix of summer! Chief Boima & Sogui So Good : Baobab Connection vol. 2. thanks Lamin!, who posts some excerpts & writes: “Boima continues with his versions and refixes, and Sogui So Good picks up right where Boima left, proceeding to drop straight dance floor pleasing jams that will make the staunchest African two-stepper actually shake his bones, rather than just sway from side to side.”

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[c'est un monde de l'photoshop]

several folks have asked me about the Gnawa Diffusion album Bab El Oued Kingston (containing sample-source for Trim’s “Thief in the Night”) – it’s well-down gnawa fusion – especially the 2nd half – with a few excursions into chaabi territory like in “Gazel au fond de la nuit”. The singer’s voice shines throughout.

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Gnawa Diffusion – Syndikaina

GnawaDiffusion

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Hyssop posts the sample-source for Nas’ Oochie Wally - turns out it’s Gong!! – alongside an excerpt from my related Gold Teeth Thief mix moment.

MAHMOUD GANIA

Maâlem, MC, master of ceremonies…

gania

this cassette rip is a double rescue – I dubbed it to digital before lending the tape to C, who briefly enjoyed the gnawa tape before getting robbed in El Parque de la Ciutadella by a quiet purse-snatcher.

the leader is Mahmoud Gania, one of the more famous members of a famous family of musicians in Essaouira, Morocco.

Maâlem Mahmoud Gania – cassette side

The except is 18 minutes long. A big part of gnawa is how it sidesteps time… i still don’t know. 18, 30 minutes. 4 hours. Sundown to sunup. What do you call something that could almost always go on for longer? Songs have beginnings and ends. These are not songs.

Gnawa music has flourished in the Western imagination completely out-of-scale with its popularity in Morocco, partly because of the basslines which can be appreciated in a dubby/reggae context by Western ears, and partly because of its backstory — the music of African slaves in the Maghreb, colonial music in the truest sense, Afro-Arab, ritual sounds used to cure snakebites & heal & cast out ill spirits in all-night ceremonies, etc.

30 or 40 years ago gnawa was very much looked-down upon in Moroccan society. Nass el Ghiwane’s massive success did a lot to popularize the instrument and dislodge its poor/black/marginal stigma, in a Moroccan context… My bandmate Khalid tells of the difficulty in finding a guembri when he was young, then getting scolded by his mother for having any interest in the music at all.