I picked up a mesmerizingly good Mohamed Rouicha CD (for 1 euro) in Madrid (Lavapies, c/ Tribulete 9) last month and listened to it nonstop for days. Then it disappeared. A few days later my laptop died (not a light death – very dead). Soonafter that, my MP3 player was stolen.

I’m obliquely reminded of a phrase I read in Richard Skelton’s excellent Landings book yesterday: “All that mattered was without weight or consequence. Nothing lingered or resonated beyond the instance of its own making. Everything listened.”

There is a word for words who have lost their meaning and remain as sound, most commonly preserved in traditional songs. I can’t remember the name of this word.

Here are two Rouicha tracks. I don’t know any of these words – Berber words, Tamazight – but I wish I did, especially in the first one which is essentially a long poem kissed by outar flourishes. The outar is Rouicha’s instrument of choice, a gentle, rustic thing that looks as if it were dug up from the earth.


Mohamed Rouicha – Harqat Mensafer


Mohamed Rouicha – Jabnadem

9 thoughts on “HARQAT MENSAFER”

  1. been appreciating your page for a while- i know what the laptop death feels like, and total unequivocal music loss. i’m sorry, that sucks pretty bad, but maybe one day, some day, you’ll feel the sting go away

    most of the time i think musafir: traveler/traveling,

  2. Rouicha jams! These tracks are actually sung in Arabic – as are the majority of his releases – but the style is straight-up Middle Atlas Berber. Both Rouicha and Najat Aatabou had a lot of “crossover” success in Morocco in the ’80s releasing cassettes of this Berber song style with lyrics in Moroccan Arabic.

    Here’s some vintage Rouicha on YouTube:

  3. Hi. I’m loving your blog. Wanted to share mine which has a similar gestalt. I also live in NYC, uptown, and study poetry at columbia, but additionally hope to apply poetics to audio essays, archiving projects, liner notes, and choreography. It seems like you are doing that as well. My blog is called nonstophome, after the weather report song and as a secular prayer to ward off the increasingly false dichotomy between disorientation and relocation but also to lament that dichotomy’s increasing falsehood. Brightmoments. Thanks for the blog. Also enjoyed your piece in n+1.

  4. Thanks for the link to the deadly music. Here’s a suggestion…in lieu of all your loses and the expense I’m sure you are soon to encounter perhaps consider going relatively old school and get a disk man. My mp3 player broke and I got a disk man for free off freecycle. Turned out to be a great idea. Listened to albums in full for a change! Fancy that.

  5. Laptop death is grim, but I suppose it does prompt a new buzz of searching and creativity when you lose stuff. I lost 2 mp3 players and a hard drive in about 3 months. Love the blog and the WFMU show, keeps me sane in the week, listening to the podcast when I’m out and about.

  6. Really nice tunes, especially Jabnadem, wow. By far the best I’ve heard all week, thanks.

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