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.

[audio:Al Firka Al Dahabia – Track 19+20.mp3]

Al Firka Al Dahabia – tracks 19+20

[audio:Al Firka Al Dahabia – 55.mp3]

Al Firka Al Dahabia – Hamza Hamzin



[photo: Rex Features]

My latest article for The National can be viewed online here. I look back at the career of Rachid Taha.


To call him a rock star is to overlook his success in the Arab world as an innovative reinterpreter of rai and chaabi. To label him a pioneering figure in Arab-technopop is to forget the long shadow cast on him by The Clash and other spiky political rockers. And if he’s a rebel, then why all the lush, respectful cover versions from decades past?

Here’s the original version of ‘Ya Menfi’ (The Exiled / The Fugitive), performed by its author, Kabyle musician Akli Yahlatene: “The chains weigh tons. . . / The soup is mere water with cockroaches swimming in the dish.” Yahlatene sings about Algerians in France imprisoned, punished, or killed for their involvement in the Algerian War. Decolonization struggle words; you can think of ‘Ya Menfi’ as a musical counterpart to Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, of which Sarte said

…and Taha’s reverent take on ‘The Exiled’, from his 1998 album Diwan:


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…)


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.


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.


Fes Maatic


version française

Moroccan chaabi cd(-r) circa 2005, i lost the case. Violin submerged in FX. Check the flamenco-oid breakdown at 4 minutes in!

the artwork displays two guys wearing identical outfits and four girls wearing schoolgirl/goth/tartan halter-tops and skirts. Everybody looks healthy, young, well-rested.

[audio:fiesta_chaabia wah.mp3]

Fiesta Chaabia medley 1 excerpt

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Timeblind has at least 173 unreleased tracks in his hard drive(s). You can hear some of them in his new mix, Flora .

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Odalisqued is less hard to link to than i remember. on post-scarcity, Anne writes :

So what is this when education, real estate, and health care are almost impossible to afford, but art and information are free to take? Does anyone have a name for this? It can’t be post-scarcity when we are living in such material inequality, at least not in the Marcusian sense. Or rather it is a particular type of post-scarcity, when books and music and films seem to appear to us as easily as food from a star-trek-replicator (leaving behind, in so many ways, the traces of the labor involved in their production — no maker’s hand on this machine), but our basic stuff of life is now so difficult to get. I’m nervous all the time, aware of what happens to the least of us. I still believe that the material conditions of one’s life influence one’s work in equal measure with all else, but once I thought freedom in one’s art only came from wealth or poverty: both in some way release us from the machine. Lately this is just anxiety as control.

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More Maroc. Jil Jilala! I love this song. Banjo & guembri take center stage. This video is a from a great period (I saw them in 2003 and it wasn’t so hot).