As I spent Chinese New Year’s Eve in the company of a friend and watched in amazement as to how empty my part of town was, I decided to call it a night and spent a bit of time enjoying some music. This was the first result of a healthy list of music I indulged in. This was my first exposure to the Abdel Karim Ensemble. I’m looking forward to finding more albums, as they play great traditional music from Syria, Egypt, Morocco and pre-Reconquista Spain. Magnificent listening.
[Spoken Word] Paul Bowles – Black Star at the Point of Darkness
Paul Bowles was uniquely gifted in how he portrayed his beloved Sahara Desert, as well as the stories who heard and wrote in Morocco. Even better is his reading of said material, done with the elegance of a master storyteller.
[Music] Various Artists – Sahel Sounds Label Sampler
Sahel Sounds is at the vanguard of publishing modern music out of the Sahel and West Africa. There is so much gold waiting to be mined out there that I don’t think it will be possible to tire of this fine company.
In their generosity, they offer a compilation of 16 tracks for free (or you can pay what you like). It’s a great spread, representing the talent they’ve unleashed to the world since 2009. Christopher Kirkley, the label owner, should be commended for opening up this region’s incredible music to the world.
[Music] saib. – Around The World (Remastered)
Casablanca, Morocco isn’t the first place I would think of as being a global melting pot, but that is because I didn’t ever have a chance to deeply explore the city. It turns out that there is a tremendous amount of influence, not only of local culture, but that of West Africa, Asia, and even elements of music from the United States like jazz, blues and hip-hop. Enter saib., a guitarist who manages to flow easily from genre to genre, making this album sound like a combination of North African groove, a touch of bossa nova and mellow jazz, underpinned by a meaty loops.
[Music] Awesome Tapes From Africa: Aïcha Tachinwite
Awesome Tapes From Africa has been releasing some utterly amazing music from all over the Continent, but it got its start as a blog sharing tapes that would otherwise never have exposure in the West.
This particular tape features Moroccan Berber singer Aïcha Tachinwite (also transliterated as Tachinouite), a fine recording of disco-influenced Arabic music. The only issue with this tape will be trying to find a track listing. Otherwise, this is a gem.
[Video] Paul Bowles – An American in Tangier (1993)
Paul Bowles, the legendary wandering scribe who introduced America to the pleasure of 1950s Morocco in all its splendor, mystery and decadence, is given a wonderful documentary tribute. The video is directed by Mohamed Ulad-Mohand, and is hosted by the ever-wonderful UbuWeb, which houses many of the experimental and avant-garde world’s treasures.
Bidoun Magazine, a great resource covering art, music and culture from the Middle East and the Ummah in general, contributed mightily to hosting this video.