Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco (Rough Guide)

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Les Imazighen: El Aloua
Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco (Rough Guide)

This is not the first Rough Guide to Moroccan music but, given how diverse the sounds are coming from that place, another edition is certainly necessary.

And when you hear the stuttering trip-hop of the dub-influenced El Aloua here (by Amiri Saqati, a side project of an earlier electronica outfit Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects) you know that this one is keeping abreast of the new sounds.

There are also funky manoeuvres (London-based rapper U-Cef with Boolandriks from his Halalwood album) and gritty hip-hop (K-Kayne have perfected the sandpaper vocals chantdown).

But the traditions are also respected (Les Imazighen, the master Musician of Joujouka) and formative older acts are also represented (Lemchaheb who were enormously popular in the Seventies and Eighties).

RGNET1266_2So this is quite some mix'n'match but it is held together by the Gnawa traditions and trance-like quality of much of this music. There are also fascinating instruments -- shakers, what sounds like slack single-string bass, cheap electronics -- alongside hypnotic string sections, scraped fiddle and those vocals which sound like they coming from atop a mosque at dawn.

With a bonus disc by Groupe Mazagan, this is a fascinating insight into some of what is happening in (recorded) music in Morocco. 

One for samplers too, I think. Much of this will be refreshingly strange to Western ears.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this and this.

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