Tuesday, June 18, 2013


After Morocco gained independence from France in 1956, the country began to culturally flourish in new manners, and among the flourishing was a rise in the documentation of indigenous music on the 45rpm single. Dust-To-Digital just put out this LP and download-only collection of six longish tracks from the post-independence era, all recorded in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. It's a fascinating collection, and shoots to the top of my favorite international releases of the past few years – mainly because I've never heard much like this before. It's just modern enough to be recognizable to Western ears, while also being complex and mind-bendingly Middle Eastern/African, and impenetrable in its construction and cultural motivations. Huge big-ups to David Murray, the curator of this one.

Like I said, we're only talking 6 "songs" here, three to a side, totaling out to about 40 minutes. You complaining? Not for $5.94 I'm not. The first two by Mohammed Bergem and Rais Haj Omar Wahrouch respectively are very rhythmic and "jam"-like, each with a crazed instrumental breakdown in the final minute that kicks the songs up to a higher plane. The third, "Kassidat El Hakka (The Poem of the Truth)" by Abdellah El Magana, is a real barn-burner – a speaking-in-tongues monster, in which you can image Abdellah's twisted tongue rolling to the back of his throat and his eyes rolling into his frontal lobe while foam forms at the corners of his mouth. Whatever he's saying, he's believing it and then some. I've posted it for you here so you can crank it at work for all of your co-workers.

Each of the six songs has its own style, and it would take a much more accomplished ethnomusicologist than myself to penetrate it further. Suffice to say, if you can handle the Abdellah El Magana track, you can easily handle the rest of it, most of which is lovely and uplifting and infused with the spirit of the desert and centuries of musical tradition. See if you can find $5.94 in your couch cushions, and then you too shall feel it deep in your bones and noggin.