Sunday, November 12, 2017

Houssaine Kili - Great Gnawa Fusion in the Early 90s


Houssaine Kili is a singer, songwriter, and string player (bass, guitar, guinbri, mondol, lotar...), originally from Agadir, who notably collaborated with the German rock group Dissidenten for a series of albums and tours in the 1980s.


The origin of these collaborations is recounted in the notes to Kili's first solo album. Kili has released 2 solo albums, produced and recorded in Germany: Safran (1999) and Mountain to Mohamed (2001).

From what I could find online, Kili appears to have led and toured with his own band throughout the 2000s, and he did some touring with jazz pianist Omar Sosa after participating in the latter's album Sentir in 2002. I couldn't find much online trace of Kili more recent than 2009.

Although I can't fill in his more recent history, I can share a fantastic live tape that gives an idea of what he was doing between his departure from Dissidenten (1988) and the release of Safran (1999). The Safran notes state that "Kili left [Dissidenten] in 1988 and started working on a solo project", but no details of this project are given. If this tape is any indication, it's a shame that this project did not result in an album.

The tape reveals a fully realized fusion band, drawing heavily on Gnawa source material, and performing thoughtful, tight, punchy arrangements. The tape came into my hands in Marrakech in 1992, and I was told it was recorded in Germany. That seems likely, though the introductory narrration to the first song, "Marrakech", is in French, and some of Kili's banter is in English. (Sometimes it's "danke", sometimes it's "thank you".)

Strangely (and disappointingly to me), none of the material from this concert tape shows up on either of Kili's two albums which, to my ear, were good but less exciting than this live tape. Some tracks on Mountain to Mohamed come close, particularly, the fantastic "Kfaya":


Both of Kili's albums, however, aim for a broader mix of textures and Moroccan source materials than the repertoire of the focused, Gnawa-centric live performing unit. I could find barely a trace of this band or these songs online anywhere. The closest I got was a live clip of Kili in 1998 leading a band in a performance of "Ya Sandi".


While the 1998 performance retains a couple elements of the arrangement performed on my tape (particularly the short instrumental transition phrase that begins/ends some sections), it is missing many delightful features of the early 90s version: call/response and harmony from a second vocalist, intricate rhythm guitar work, middle-section breakdown, and overall propulsive rhythmic drive:


I would love to know more about this early 90s band, and about this tape:
  • Who are the musicians? The only person introduced by name is Roland Schaeffer on saxophone and guitar (and ghaita). Schaeffer was a member of Embryo, the group from which Uve Müllrich and Michael Wehmeyer broke away to form Dissidenten, and with whom Kili collaborated as well. Who is playing keyboards and drums, and who is singing the Arabic backing vocals?
  • Where and when did this concert take place? Though my copy has quite a bit of tape hiss, the overall mix is very good - it sounds like a professional soundboard recording. (I would looooove to hear a clean version of this recording, and one that fills in some of the portions missing in my tape)
  • Where else and how often did this band perform? Did they ever make studio recordings? If so, why did they never see the light of day? 
  • Why did Kili abandon these songs and arrangements when he recorded his 2 albums?
Some clips of Kili's bands in the 2000s do retain the excitement and energy of the early 90s band, for example, this great 2002 clip:


It's not easy to keep a North African fusion band going outside of France or North Africa. (Believe me, I've tried!!) It's too bad there's not more recorded music available from the talented and creative Houssaine Kili, and that he wasn't able to find sustained international success over the years. His website remains active, but contains no news or recent updates. I hope he'll resurface with something new and interesting! The most recent clip I could find of him was something very different and very nice:


Houssaine Kili Band, featuring Roland Schaeffer, 199X-XX-XX, Germany
tape obtained in marrakech in 1992
01) Marrakech (baniya)

02) Jilali
03) Ya Sandi
04) rai song (contains fade out and in)
05) Roland Schaeffer instrumental
06) Of Course One Day the Sun Will Shine (contains tape flip)
07) Ah Wlidi
08) M3a Mourad Allah
09) Negsha (incomplete - fades out)
10) Yobati
11) Jilala (encore)

Get it all here.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Yes! - More Ladies of Aâtiphone!


Do not mess with these badass âouiniyat ladies, who come to you straight outta 1990s Marrakech armed with bendir-s, târija-s, and non-stop rhyming couplets, to rock you all night long. Just fire up a pot of mint tea, set out a tray and some glasses, and when the groove takes you, get up and shimmy to your heart's content.

As I've said before, everything I've ever heard on the Âatiphone imprint out of Kelaat es-Sraghna is super-great, and this tape is no exception. Enjoy!

Âouniyat Ladies of Âatiphone
Âatiphone cassette, Kelâat Es-Sraghna, 1990s
01 Wa Khay Ya Khay
02 Ara Liya Khwitmi Ha Lbalini Ya
03 Alawa Ya Mwi Lawa Ya Tawl Ezzman Âyyani

04 Hak a Rasi
05 Wa Jewwejih Ya Mwi Duwwez Hayatu Wa
06 Diri 3lach Terj3i Ha Ya Lwaqfa Fel Bab
07 Wa Rah Blani Lalla
08 Duwr a Chayfuwr

Get it all here.




Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ashura Upgrade - Daqqa Marrakchiya


Here's a slight upgrade to a tape I shared a few years ago. I wanted to share some more of the great Daqqa Marrakchiya music that gets played in the streets of Marrakech on Ashura, and I knew I had another tape.


The downside was that the tape turned out to be the same one that I shared previously. The upside was that there was different, equally great j-card art, and that the tape flip and in/out points were different.

I patched the two together, so here is a slight upgrade that adds an additional great 20 seconds of music and that can now be heard as a single track uninterrupted by a tape flip.

I like it when Islamic and Jewish holidays line up together. This year both new New Years came in at the same time, as did Ashura and Yom Kippur. Wishing blessings, reflection and inspiration to all.

Dekka de Marrakech (الدقة المراكشية)
Majmuât ad-daqqa al-marrakchiya (مجموعة الدقة المراكشية)
under the direction of al Hajj Muhammad Baba (برئاسة الحاج محمد بابا)

Sawt el Haouz (صوت الحوز) cassette S.H. 38
slight upgrade


Dekka de Marrakech - excerpt

Get it all here.

For more info on Daqqa Marrakchiya, see Wikipedia (fr) and Moroccan Tape Stash.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fatna Bent Lhoucine & Ouled Ben Aguida - Twofer


Some good websites exist for streaming Moroccan music. For Berber music, there's a great selection at https://www.izlanzik.org/. For Arab stuff, my previous go-to site was yala.fm, but lately the search function seems to be broken. More recently, I've been turning to http://www.ournia.co/, which has a large selection of Moroccan music (and other Arab/North African music). For some artists, one can find nearly comprehensive discographies. For others, especially those who have released albums on several different labels and over many years, the selection will be more spotty.

Case in point: the late, great âita singer Fatna Bent Lhoucine (1935-2005). When I first visited Morocco, she was on TV all the time - a real household name. However, her vast recorded output seems to have been primarily on 45s and on a variety of local cassette labels, many of which remain unreleased in digital format.

Ournia actually has a decent selection of recordings of Fatna Bent Lhoucine. Some of them appear to be reissues of vintage recordings, others are possibly recordings from late in her career. Even with album art available, it's often unclear whether the images are representative of the original album art (in the case of CD reissues of cassettes), or whether vintage photos accompany more recent recordings (or vice versa).

Another great online source of Moroccan recordings, specifically of âita recordings, is Settatbladi.org, a non-commercial online digital collection started by âita aficionados in 2007. They recently migrated the entire collection to the Internet Archive. There's an ocean of material there (over 2000 songs). Whereas Ournia seems to feature material that has been commercially issued in digital format, Settatbladi's curators have digitized their private collections of 45s, LPs, cassettes, and CDs. It's not always possible to match audio files with corresponding cover art (which is housed in a separate archive), and I don't see information there about the dates of the recordings. Still, it's a remarkable collection, and well worth swimming its seas of sound! Naturally, they have plenty of recordings of Fatna Bent Lhoucine.


Over here at Moroccan Tape Stash, I can't be very comprehensive about artist discographies - all I can do is offer copies of things that happened to fall into my hands over the years. Maybe mp3 downloads are going the way of the cassette tape and compact disc. Perhaps I should turn these into streaming versions, or put them all on YouTube to make them more accessible to all.

For now, though, we'll keep on with present format, and offer up a couple of tapes of Fatna Bent Lhoucine with her longtime collaborators the Ouled ben Aguida. These are on the label Sawt Lahbak. Neither are perfect in terms of audio, but the music on them is great.

The tape for which I actually have a j-card (V.L. 69) lists 6 songs, but only 3 appear on the 40 minute cassette. The audio quality is a bit warbly.

The other tape features 2 songs. (There were three tracks on the tape, but the third was just the beginning of the 1st song again.) The playback on the tape sounded way too slow (tempo) and low (pitch). I sped up the tempo/raised the pitch in Logic, and it sounds more natural now. The overall audio quality is better than on the 1st tape.

Ouled Ben Aguida & Fatna Bent Lhoucine - اولاد بن عگيدة و فاطنة بنت الحسين
Sawt Lahbaq (صوت لحباق) cassette V.L. 69

1) Rouisi Chab (رويسي شاب)

2) Lhouaouia (لهواوية)
3) Lfraq S3ib (لفراق صعيب)



Ouled Ben Aguida & Fatna Bent Lhoucine - اولاد بن عگيدة و فاطنة بنت الحسين
Sawt Lahbaq (صوت لحباق) cassette

1) El 3aloua

2) Za3eriya

Get em all here.
More Fatna Bent Lhoucine in the Stash here.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some Deep Stati Trax Before Ramadan


Here's a fantastic Stati tape that Lalla Hafida brought me in 2016. Down deep in the âita groove, this is some great stuff. I wish I knew the identity of the shikha singer featured here along with Stati - she's fabulous.


The music and the photo are clearly much older than 2016. The cassette number 20/2000 indicates that it was released in the year 2000, but I suspect it's a reissue of an earlier album. (He looks very young in the photo.)

For those of you observing Ramadan (starting at the end of this week), here's wishing you a month of peace, blessing, and remembrance.

Stati (Al Fannan Abdelaziz Stati) - الفنان عبد العزيز الستاتي
Sawt Chaouia cassette 20/2000
1) La Tghib 3lia - لله لا تغيب علي
2) Lawah Ya Lebnia - لواه يا لبنية
3) Raqsa - رقصة
4) Jayeb Rou7i Lik Hdia - جايب روحي ليك هدية
5) Za3eri - زعري / Raqsa 3la Lqa3da - رقصة على القعدة

Get it all here.
More Stati in the Stash here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fatima Zehafa - Ya Lghadi Ou Ljai


The Arab Tunes blog recently shared some excellent 45s by the great shikha Fatima Zehafa. I have one 45 of hers too, and I'm pretty crazy about it, so I'm sharing that one here. Hope you enjoy it!



Fatima Zehafa (فاطمة الزحافة) - Ya Lghadi Ou Ljai (Moussaouiphone 2848 AB)
1) Ya Lghadi Ou Ljai
2) Al Khadem


Get it all here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Additional Unpublished Gnawa Recordings at CREM


This post follows from my post of Sunday. Because I'm like that, I went through and identified the songs in the Gnawa recordings in Mohammed Aït Youssef's 1966 collection, and have linked to them below by title. I scoured CREM's various collections of unpublished North African recordings to try to locate any additional Gnawa recordings. Below you'll find links to what I could find. There are a few tracks in Aït Youssef's other collections, and some from a 1950-55 collection of recordings from the Algerian oasis of Tabelbala.

Enjoy!

Collection : Maroc. Aït Youssef, M. ; 1965
1965 recordings by Mohammed Aït Youssef. In addition to Berber music from the Draa, Aissawa music from Marrakech, and more, the collection includes 5 Gnawa tracks from Marrakech. Like the 1966 recordigs, they appear to feature Ahmed ben Lahcen.
          
01-01 Chabakro (Negsha)
01-02 Baniya kum kum kum
01-03 Bangara Bangara
01-04 Berrma Soutanbi
01-05 Chabakro (Ouled Bambara)

Collection : Maroc, Marrakech; Musique de confrérie
1966 recordings by Mohammed Aït Youssef in Marrakech, 1966. Almost all tracks are Gnawa from Marrakech featuring Ahmed ben Lahcen.

01-01 Bukamly Wana
01-02 Kalkani Bulila
01-03 Jabuna
01-04 Berrma Soutanbi
02-01 Rebbi Moulay
02-02 Mimoun Sadiye
02-03 La ilaha illa Llah
02-04 Bukiriri
02-05 Baniya (ouled bambara)
02-06 Berrma Soutanbi
02-07 Ye Lalla Ya Tungra
03-01 L3afou (Âada)
03-02 Ftih ar Rahba -> Ouled Bambara (Âada)
04-01 Negsha
04-02 Chabakro (Negsha)
04-03 Turglami
04-04 Tinguba
04-05 Mbirika
05-01 3bid chleuh
05-02 Berrma Soutanbi (outro)
05-03 Allah ya Sidi Marhaba
05-04 Allah Allah Moulana (Hada wa3du meskin)
06-01 3bid chleuh
06-02 3bid chleuh
06-03 3bid Chleuh
06-04 Yomala
07-01 3bid chleuh
07-02 flute solo
07-03 Yobati
08-01 Chabakro (Ouled Bambara)
08-02 Kalkani Bulila
08-03 water seller bells
08-04 Tu mali Tu malinda
08-05 Berrma Nana Soutanbi
09-01 Kalkani Bulila -> Chabakro (Ouled Bambara)
09-02 Jabuna
09-03 Berrma Nana Soutanbi
09-04 Sandi Kayna
09-05 Bukamly Wana
10-01 Hada wa3do meskin
10-02 taqsim (oud)
10-03 taqsim (oud)

Collection : Maroc. Aït Youssef, Mohammed

The third and final collection of recordings by Mohammed Aït Youssef dates from 1968. Much of it comes from the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech. There are no recordings of Gnawa alone, but one track is a walkthrough of the plaza, and one can hear Gnawa with qraqeb and tbola, among other performers.

03-02 Bruit et ambiance de la place

Collection : Algérie, Tabelbala, missions D. Champault 1950-1955 
Massive collection of recordings from the Northwest Algerian Saharan oasis of Tabelbala made by Dominique Champault includes four tracks from the Beniou population (former slaves) - songs with qarqaba and drums.

22-01 Danse de Qarqabous
22-02 Danse de Qarqabous
61-01 Musique de Beniu
61-02 Musique de Beniu

Sunday, April 23, 2017

3 hours of Gnawa music from 1966


Those of you with a taste for field recordings may enjoy perusing the online collection of CREM (Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie), housing the audio archives of the CNRS and the Musée de l’Homme. Much of this vast audio archive of commercial and unpublished recordings is available for online listening.

I'm currently enjoying a remarkable collection of recordings made by one Mohammed Aït Youssef in Marrakech in 1966, featuring over 3 hours of Gnawa music:

http://archives.crem-cnrs.fr/archives/collections/CNRSMH_I_1968_021/

The online documentation does not indicate the name of the performer, but I believe it is the Gnawi Ahmed ben Lahcen.


He can be heard in some of Cafe Matich's YouTube uploads of recordings from Marrakech's Djemaa el Fna plaza:



It is certainly the same Gnawi that is heard in Gerard Kremer's recordings for Arion (released 1975):



Some of the recordings in the CNRS collection appear to have been made in the Djemaa el Fna plaza. Others, perhaps not - it's difficult to say. At any rate, it's a great collection of recordings - a lot of Ouled Bambara and Negsha songs, some with clapping, some with qarqaba, a few tracks of drumming and qarqaba-ing. (Almost no mluk trance songs, though.) There are also a few tracks of odds and ends. 08-03 features the bells of Djemaa el Fna water sellers. 07-01 is a drum and qarqaba song featuring the ismkhan (also known as âbid chleuh - Berber-speaking Gnawa who have a repertoire completely separate from that of the more well-known Arabophone Gnawa), and 07-02 is entitled "Solo de flûte Gnawa". The latter track sounds to me like an instance of the Soussi Berber style of âwad flute. Perhaps it's a Gnawi musician who doubles on flute - I've never heard of a discrete Gnawi flute tradition or repertoire, but the world is full of musical surprises, so perhaps I'm wrong!

I couldn't find any information about the researcher Mohamed Ait Youssef, what sort of research he was doing, or how his recordings ended up in the CNRS archive. The archive contains other recordings of his dating from1965 and 1968. These recordings, also from Marrakech, feature several different genres (as well as a few more Gnawa tracks). Whatever his story may have been, it's wonderful that he left us such extensive recordings, and that CNRS has shared them online.

CNRS Collection: Maroc, Marrakech; Musique de confrérie. Enregistrements sonores inédits réalisés par Mohammed Aït Youssef au Maroc (Marrakech), en 1966: http://archives.crem-cnrs.fr/archives/collections/CNRSMH_I_1968_021/

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gna Abdellah


Here's a lovely old Gnawa tape appearing to date from the 1980s. This looks like Abdellah Guinia, brother of Mahmoud, from Essaouira. The cover reads "Gna Abdellah". (I wonder if it was supposed to read "Guinia Abdellah", or "Gnawa Abdellah", or whether it's deliberate.) Although less well known than Mahmoud, Abdellah did release a couple of recordings available internationally. This is the first time I've seen a Moroccan cassette under his name.

It sounds like Mahmoud is singing on this tape, but perhaps it's just a family resemblance. In addition to Abdellah's guinbri-playing, there is a tam-tam and a banjo on some tracks, à la Nass el Ghiwane. Thanks to musician and Stash visitor Fritz Catlin who used one track in this swell mix (at about 38:55):
and then shared the full album with the Stash!

 Gna Abdellah (Abdellah Guinia) Sawt el Janoub cassette
1) 3arbiya Moulati
2) Sadati Huma Shorafa
3) Hada Wa3du Meskin - Woye Wahyana
4) Allah Denya Wo Ho
5) Hada Wa3du Meskin - slight return (seems like the beginning of track 2 again)
6) bonus ahouach (not abdellah guinia, or even gnawa, but there it is, and it rocks!)

Get it here.






Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jean Mazel Moroccan Field Recordings via Tuluum Shimmering


Here's a vintage stash of folk music field recordings made and released in the 1950s and 1960s by one Jean Mazel, a French cinéaste and ethnologue, about whom I can find little information online. Most of his published recordings (and a disambiguation with a namesake) can be found here, and a number of his publications are listed here.

Jean Mazel

The recordings presented here were originally released on one 10-inch album (33 RPM) four 7-inch EPs (45 RPM). They have been resequenced and made available for streaming/download by the "UK-based one-man trancedental-drone band" Tuluum Shimmering:



In addition to being offered in their raw form, the Moroccan recordings have been incorporated into 3 CDs worth of Tuluun Shimmering's psychedelic recordings, also available from their Bandcamp page, or as CDs from their homepage.

The original 10-inch album features linking narration in French. If you're interested to hear it in its original state, check the YouTube clips below. (I'm happy to have the narration removed in Tuluum's version. It reminded me of the pretentious voiceovers I heard between acts at the Folklore festival in Marrakech in 1995.)




I went looking online for the original artwork/notes, and to see where the original tracks fit into Tuluum's sequence. If you're interested in that sort of thing, you can find the images I collected and my crosswalk spreadsheet here.

Thanks to tape aficiondo and old Berkeley pal @boxwalla for calling my attention to this.