Cultural Scenes

A Brief History of Morocco's Electronic Music

@djguedraguedra

"Moroccan artists have influenced electronic music for many years..."

Casablanca-based producer and DJ, Guedra Guedra, takes us through the deep and rich history of Moroccan music and its heavy influence on the electronic music we know and groove to today. Along with his insights, he serves up a fresh mix to make your weekend extra sweet...

"Moroccan artists have influenced electronic music for many years. This mix tries to trace the history behind it. Barraka El Farnatshi is a Moroccan label that symbolizes these influences. Led by pat-Jabbar who moved to Switzerland, Barraka has existed since 1988 and has an approach that goes beyond mainstream classifications: no limitative tags like “tradition” and “exoticism”. With more than 30 productions and many groups, the label has supported creative and groundbreaking artists. A daring bet that still resulted in great commercial success."

"This track "Mulkutshi" is an excerpt from the album "Riam – 1997". The Marrkeshi group Ahlam is part of the Barraka family. They had 3 of their discs produced by the pioneering label, blending Raï, Techno, Shaabi and Funk and following a hybrid and modern scheme that differentiated them from Classical Raï or European Techno.

The album was the fruit of Ahlam’s creative potential, but was also built on Bill Laswell’s expertise and international recognition. The American jazzman collaborated with Barraka El Farnatshi on various works including “Riam”. It all started when Paul Bowles, who was living in Tangier, discovered the Moroccan underground trance band, Aisha Kandisha Jarring Effects, and linked them with Laswell who directly invited them to bring their tapes to New York. “Shabeestation” was then produced, as the 2nd album of AKJE and as one of many collaborations with Barraka El Farnatshi."

"Amïra Saqati, another project that was created by AKJE members, gave birth to “El Aloua” from the album "Agdal Reptiles on Majoun – 1995", that is featured in the mix. We can recognize AKJE’s approach, mixing traditional music from Morocco and Maghreb (Raï, Gnawa, Berber music, Jeel) with ambient sounds and western dance aesthetics.

In a different dimension of the label production, there is Sapho’s voice, a renowned Moroccan singer, on the track “Laouah” that’s inspired from Middle Atlas Zayan music and “Ya Habib” with Aïta colours, from the album Digital Sheikha – 1998."

"Bill Laswell wasn’t the only international name to collaborate that early with Moroccan groups. In 68, the Rolling Stones', Brian Jones, recorded “The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka”, a mythical album that brought the Jajouka Rif village musicians to the global scene. Thirty years after, Oriental Techno pioneer, Talvin Singh, came across the Jajoukan jem. He recorded a hybrid disc combining traditional music and electronic remixes: “The Moon Master Musicians Of Jajouka – 2000” album was created, including “Above the Moon”. The dreamy trance of Jajouka mountain instruments were used by Singh to give a hypnotic perspective to Jungle and Dub lines. Gaïta, one of the principal Jajoukan instruments, is also at the center of "Judas Goat, Burn It – 2006". This collaboration of Filastine and Gaïta player, Hicham Enouiti, is a real trip to the Soufi trance universe.

Gnawa is another traditional trance music that’s featured in the set. In “Lahillah Express”, from "Gnawa Impulse – Living Remixes – 2001", we hear resonating ritualistic Gnawa percussion with raw synthetic drums. The Gnawa Impulse project was built after German multi-instrumentalist, Jan-Claudius Rase and David Beck, met Gnawa musicians Abdenbi Binizi, Samir Zgarhi and Majid Karadi in 1998.

After this first wave of Electro-Moroccan productions, a second generation of DJs and producers emerged. The label, Apartment 22, is one of its faces and produced artists like MoMo (Music Of Moroccan Origin) which created the DaR (Digital and Roots music) style, mixing their musical and traditional roots with Trance, Techno, Garage and Breakbeat from their city of exile, London.

Moulay Youssef Adel aka U-cef, a great name of Moroccan Drum & Bass was also boosted by Apartment 22, especially on the “Halalium” album. The Maghrebian tones are echoed in different acoustic instruments used by U-Cef. His Gnawa orientation is very present in "Hijra – Halalium – 1999", which features Johnny Biz and Dar Gnawa rap, Sintir bass lines and desertic guitare."

The Gnawa atmosphere is brought again by “Fes Mejdoub”, from “L’autre Nuit”, an album that was recorded in 2001 by Von Magnet and Gnawa musicians from Fez under Prikosnovénie Records.

Cheb I Sabbah is the Algerian touch of this mix. Exiled in California, he also spent precious time in Essaouira where he dove into the “Houara” galaxy, recording B’net Marrakech - maestras of that ancestral style. "La Kahena – 2005", hinted in the set by "Esh ‘Dani, Alash Mshit", is an album that joins machine frenetic beats to Houari repetitive rhythms and hypnotic vocals.

The revolutionary AKJE is celebrated by the Dark Ambient track "Geltlik Ji – Koyo Habib – 2000". Abdou El Shaheed, Habib El Malak and Pat Jabbar founded the group in 1987 to experiment the Shaabi-Electro interconnections. They counted two more heads in 1988: S’Mohamed Kbir and Cheb Qchatar. Barraka Farnatshi, was actually created to produce their first recordings, wrapped under “El Buya” tag as their first album.

The set’s last trip is shaped by a soft atmosphere, a more Dup to Trip-Hop Trance that is proposed by Toires in “Haytama” (Sanati – 2002)."

Listen to Guedra Guedra's mix below.

The Tracklist:

Mulkutshi ℗ 1997 Les Riam - Ahlam

Mesk El Lil ℗ 2001 Impiria Consequential - Dar Beida 04

Umlil (Ajdig) ℗ 1996 Berberism - Argan

El Aloua ℗ 1995 Agdal Reptiles On Majoun - Amira Saqati

Iguider ℗ 1996 Berberism - Argan

Laouah ℗ 1998 Digital Sheikha - Sapho ft. Bill Laswell

Above The Moon ℗ 2000 Master Musicians Of Jajouka - Bachir Attar & Talvin Singh

Judas Goat ℗ 2006 Burn It - Filastine ft. Hicham Enouiti

Mskin ℗ 1992 Revolt Against Reason - Ahlam

Ya Habib ℗ 1998 Digital Sheikha - Sapho

Lahillah Express ℗ 2001 Living Remixes - Gnawa Impulse

Shlöh Acid ℗ 1998 Salt Al Bharr - Amira Saqati

Hijra ℗ 1999 Halalium - U-CEF

Fés Mejdoub ℗ 2001 L’Autre Nuit - Phil Von & the Gnawa musicians of Fès

Esh ‘Dani, Alash Mshit ℗ 2005 La Kahena - DJ Cheb I Sabbah

Geltlik Ji ℗ 2000 Koyo Habib - Aisha Kandisha Jarring Effects

Haytama ℗ 2002 (Sanati) - Toires

Guedra Guedra's new "Son Of Sun" EP is available to pre-order here.

For more mixes, check out our bi-weekly 'Trippin Mixes', here.

Translation by: Mouna Guidiri

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