Dances And Trances:
Moroccan Sufis and Berbers from Taroudannt, Morocco
World Arbiter (www.arbiterrecords.com)
To begin an album with a village cock crowing to the morning requires panache. Yet the adhan for early-morning prayer (salat as-soubh) offers the context for this collection of dance and trance music from Taroudannt, Morocco. Former capital of the Saadien dynasty, Taroudannt's location in the Souss River valley and relative remoteness from the later French colonizers left the city with a more traditional Moroccan design than is found in more accessible parts of the country.
In the summers of 1994 and 1995 producer/recorder James Irsay was in the city, a recipient of Berber (Amazigh) hospitality and a guest with access to a local moussem, an annual celebration of a Moroccan saint. This allowed Irsay to record several guerrera, a musical form practiced at the moussem dominated by its driving rhythms. The nakous, a percussive metallic instrument, dominates the guerrera. Irsay also captured an Egyptian-style song accompanied by oud and a pair of songs by Berber street musicians.
I love this sort of raw and unpolished recording. It is full of natural enthusiasm and energy. It offers the chance to enjoy one man's vision and musical experience as he documents Taroudannt's music. I'd welcome a thousand such recordings by travelers with good ears and adequate equipment capturing the aural landscape. This music is endangered, and work like this serves a valuable (and enjoyable) purpose. - Richard Dorsett
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