We are living in a material world. Here are two fruits of Beyond Digital, a gorgeous CD and a cassette, available for purchase here.
The debut CD of Imanaren is a lovely thing. We re-released this digitally on Dutty Artz, but here, exclusive and for the first time, is a very limited edition of the original physical CD, produced in Morocco by Hassan Wargui. (These CDs don’t play well with all drives, so purchase comes with a download link to the Dutty Artz digital version; you can burn up a lossless CD if yours doesn’t play well.)
For an introduction to Imanaren, read (the amazing) Nina Power’s review in The Wire or check out this video — a brief interview with Wargui followed by the album’s first track.
I’ve also got a few copies of the Palm Wine – Dreamachine / Beyond Digital mix cassette. This is great project initiated by artist Simone Bertuzzi. One side features his field recordings from northern Morocco including excerpts from the Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival. (For in-depth observations on the Jajouka/Joujouka phenomenon, try my essay for The National, “Past Masters.”) The tape’s flip side contains a b2b selection Maga Bo & I assembled while traveling on trains across Morocco. Our contribution is unmixed (it’s like an old school cassette you may have made for friends way back when…). Simone has a detailed writeup about the entire project here. My side starts off with the magical Luzmilla Carpio, and this is a 2-minute excerpt from Side A, Simone’s Dreamachine field recordings:
Palm Wine “Dreamachine mix” [2 min. excerpt] by Palm Wine
Please note: if you’d live outside of the U.S. and would like to order the Palm Wine cassette, please do it directly from the Palm Wine blog. This order form allows for U.S. purchases of the Imanaren + Palm Wine, and rest-of-world purchases of the Imanaren.
Make sure you use the dropdown form to select which item(s) you want and whether your location is US or rest-of-world. Shukran.
Join us today, December 5th, at Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater (124 South 3rd. btwn Bedford + Berry) for a live WFMU radio broadcast followed by a screening of Ahmed El Maanouni’s gripping and poetic Nass El Ghiwane documentary film, TRANSES (1981). Nass El Ghiwane, a group of working class musicians from Casablanca, revolutionized Maghrebi music in the 1970s and remain Morocco’s most important band. TRANSES captures them at the height of their power. The radio show will be built from a YouTube selection of some of my favorite Moroccan tracks and Nass el Ghiwane cover versions.
Thanks to the volunteers at WFMU, Spectacle, and Ethnographic Vid WWWorld for making another special evening of live radio possible!
[Nass El Ghiwane]
And a quick re-post from my blog:
Here is an oft-compiled Nass El Ghiwane track, Mahmouma. This version comes from Stern’s epic 18-CD “Africa 50 years” box set (“The most comprehensive compilation of African music ever achieved. . . 183 classic recordings by 183 important artists from 38 countries in North, South, East and West Africa.”)
Sterns cut Mahmouma down to half its length, but the mastering is good:
[John Francis Peters – Meryem by the sea in Casablanca]
And last but not least, head to Time Magazine’s Lightbox to see “Insha’Allah”, a photoessay by John Francis Peters, taken in Morocco as part of our Beyond Digital project.
originally posted on Mudd Up!
This is the artwork for a small-run tape / cassette-art project initiated by Simone Bertuzzi. One side features his recordings from Tangiers and the Joujouka Festival in Morocco, and the flip side contains a mix that Maga Bo and I arranged while on a train from Casablanca to Tangiers during Beyond Digital. Simone asked us to select tunes, keeping in mind that the tape would be inserted into Moroccan “bootleg” distribution networks, given out for free in Joujouka, as well as being avaible to all you lovely internet creatures via a 10euro paypal order.
For more on The Master Musicians of Jajouka and/versus The Master Musicians of Joujouka, check out my piece for The National, “Past Masters.”
Simone’s project intrigued me however, as he was more or less sidestepping the aura of arty mysticism around Joujouka and working with what you might call distributional aesthetics — something I think about a lot as well.
[artwork from the notorious lost Fesmaatic edition]
Bertuzzi writes: “My main goal was to have a sort of non-official distribution in Morocco, things are quite interesting in terms of bootlegging, cd-r and distribution in general in Morocco. I wanted to let locals listen to both the music of the Master Musicians of Joujouka (very known in the rest of the world, but more or less unknown within Morocco) and the eclectic mix of music by Rupture and Maga Bo. This is also why I didn’t decide to focus specifically on Morocco and moroccan music, but I asked the djs to put as much music as possible from many different countries and epochs.”
This is taken from his long, honest post chronicling the ups & downs of whole process.
Translation is work! Necessary work.
Here’s the French language version of our Behind-the-Scenes video for Beyond Digital.
And the gringo-friendly English-language version in case you missed it:
[The poster uses 3 alphabet character sets: Arabic, Tifinagh, Latin]
This Friday we’re presenting Beyond Digital Morocco at the Cinematheque de Tanger, then moving outdoors for a free concert featuring Nettle (here in Morocco Nettle is a trio: myself, Lindsay Cuff, and Brent Arnold) and Hassan Wargui (Imanaren). All happening in Tangiers’ incredible medina.
Nettle is from NYC, and Hassan’s from Souss Berber country in Morocco’s south — we’re using these days to develop and record new songs together. It’s not that music ‘transcends’ language, it’s that music is language, and our motley crew is enjoying its communicative glow. Lindsay’s learning the words (in the Berber language of Tashelhit) to an Archach song we’ll cover; Hassan’s Amazigh banjo lines help us extend ‘Mole in the Ground’ even further; Abdellah’s joining in on rebab and bendir… and things are just getting started.
Here’s a quick video of our first practice together:
RSVP on the Facebook event page if you’d like to let the C.I.A. know you support us. Offline, we’re making event posters at a truly special letterpress studio that’s been open for over half a century.
bonus: late-night afterparty at Morocco Palace (located on a street called ‘the Devil’s Alley’, one block over from Tangiers’ synagogue, which had a congregation of around 200,000 during its heyday) with Adil El Miloudi!!
reposted from Mudd Up!
The clubb marches on!
Apologies for the late notice, but the Mudd Up Book Clubb will meet two weeks from today on September 8th, in Tangier Morocco. We’ll be talking about Juan Goytisolo’s Exiled from Almost Everywhere (original title: Exiliado de Aquí y de Allá). Goytisolo is a complicated figure — the Spaniard has lived in Marrakesh for decades, and his biography and attitude are often more interesting than his actual books. But this new one, published after five years of silence, is surprisingly nimble and enjoyable.
The basic plot: a man is blown up in a terrorist attack and finds himself in the afterlife, which is a kind of mad internet cafe. Religious extremism, media spectacles (Debord makes an appearance), the realness of exile (which Goytisolo suffered at the hands of fascist Spain) and the surface-skimming fluidity of online identity, it’s all here. The weird, perversely funny romp of Exiled provides an excellent introduction to the works of this writer. Goytisolo’s career-long literary critique on the cornerstones of Spanish Identity is formidable indeed. (His books were banned in Spain until Franco died in 1975.) I’m not going to pretend that this is an easy or immediately pleasurable read, but it is worth talking about! Plus it’s short. (The October Book Clubb selection will be slightly less far-out, and nonfiction…)
The Guardian review agrees with my take on the book:
Exiled From Almost Everywhere is perhaps the best work of Goytisolo’s later period. The author, who in his 20s, wrote realistic novels that described the vulgar horrors of Franco’s Spain, from which he was exiled, later began to develop a freer, less traditional, more ironic and humorous voice. Nowhere is this style more accomplished than in this novel, beautifully translated into English by Peter Bush. (Even Bush’s title is a clever rendering of the original Spanish, literally “The Exile From Here and There”.)
For more info on the Book Clubb: The idea is simple: every six weeks or so we gather somewhere for informal talk centered around a good muddy book, then go eat delicious food. We’ll have a live Ustream or Skype feed so Cousin Internet and Miss Larry Antitroll can join in — but if you want to tele-participate, you should sign-up for the low-activity Mudd Up Book Clubb Mailing List.
The following day we are presenting a show at the Cinematheque de Tanger with Nettle and Hassan Wargui/Imanaren. As we mentioned in the Beyond Digital Morocco :Behind the Scenes video, we view the project as a doorway, and are returning for ten days to keep creating.
[originally posted at Mudd Up!]
I’m very excited to present this video. It’s a short Behind The Scenes look at our Beyond Digital: Morocco art project. You can also check out my series of Fader posts, and the BD website itself, but this video is by far the best summary and explanation of what we were up to in June, and in so doing it provides glimpses of what’s to come: an incredible photo series by John Francis Peters; poignant video essays by Maggie Schmitt and Juan Alcon Duran; my free Max4Live audio tools suite, Sufi Plug-Ins; Maghrebi percussion sample pack & music by Maga Bo; and more… We’ll also be doing an event in Tangier on September 9th, more info next week.
Auto-tune lovers take note: the video previews a snippet from the best auto-tune interview ever, when we spoke with Moroccan pop star Adil El Miloudi in his home.
Adil El Miloudi: “Autotune gives you a ‘me’ that is better.”
[Rainstorm in Issafn, photo by John Francis Peters for The Fader]
The group blog over at our Beyond Digital: Morocco site has been lively as things accelerate. Each week John Francis Peters and I find time to join photos and text documenting some of our time here. The series is here, and you can go direct to this week’s post – Village Boys, Village Magic, and the Best Breakfast Ever.
Issafn’s empty adobe houses crumble back into the rocky landscape. It’s newer self-built cinderblock palaces line a sliver of green—date palms, figs, monstrous olive trees—around a riverbed that’s walkable barring flash-floods. Ten years ago Issafn had no electricity. Powerlines were strung when the new king came to power, and now local hiphop crews post online videos of themselves rapping in Tashelhit. Hassan and his buddies put together an hourlong DVD (that’s genre-scramble seems inspired by Bollywood’s action-romance-spy-comedy-melodrama-all-at-once attitude) that they shot in the hills. The women still haul water up from the creek pre-dawn, and the cybercafe’s sign has been around so long that it’s rusted, nearly out of legibility. What’s gonna happen in the next decade?
[The King’s Speech, photo by John Francis Peters for The Fader]
Walking around Issafn, we are the aliens. Most of our crew doesn’t speak Arabic or French, not that those would help much. Tashelhit is the first language of everybody else here, and many of the older generation don’t speak Arabic. So communication turns into gestures and patience. We learn that the Berber term for beetle is iguiliguiz, a word impossible to pronounce without smiling. We learn that a great magic bird named Baz taught people in this land how to make music. We learn that honeycomb and homemade almond paste and olive oil and round bread is the best breakfast ever.
As announced in this post, the Mudd Up Book Clubb kicks off this month. We have a time and location now: It’s going down on Monday June 27th, at 7pm on the rooftop near rue Jean Jaures in Gauthier, Casablanca. It’s a particularly appropriate place to sit down and discuss Maureen F. McHugh’s Nekropolis, a science fiction novel set in 22nd century Morocco involving biochemical slavery, immigration, genetic chimeras and more. See the original post for more info on the event and the book.
We’ll have a Ustream feed going for everyone elsewhere. I’m looking at a Filastine’s Barcelona rooftop for the next edition, let’s keep these pages turning..
last minute but hey – tonight we’re giving a free party at the Instituto Cervantes in Casablanca, Morocco. Info here (francais, arabic, espanol).
The party kicks off this week’s Beyond Digital series at the Instituto Cervantes. All events are free and open to the public, and will be conducted primarily in French.
[photo by John Francis Peters]
Tomorrow, Wednesday June 22, we’ll be having a work-in-progress presentation on our Beyond Digital project.
And on Thursday June 23, Fader photo editor John Francis Peters will give a photo workshop session, walking us through his editing process and approach to documentary photography. His growing body of work here is stunning, check our weekly Fader updates for a taste.
PROJET MUSICAL BEYOND DIGITAL
Mardi 21, mercredi 22 et jeudi 23 juin
Beyond Digital présente un projet qui vise la relation qu’il y a entre le digital et le traditionnel dans le monde contemporain de la musique chaabi et bereber. Avec la collaboration d’une équipe internationale d’artistes, le projet explore le monde de cette musique à travers l’usage de la vidéo, de la photographie et de la collaboration musicale.
Mardi 21 juin à 21h DJ Sessions avec DJ/Rupture et Maga Bo. Deux DJs de renom international qui proposent une soirée sans frontières. Maga Bo: basse transnational. DJ/Rupture : rythmes inattendus, intelligent + dansant.
Mercredi 22 juin à 19h Introduction: work-in-progress (travaux en cours). L’équipe de Beyond Digital partage un échantillon du travail accompli jusqu’à présent à Casablanca : fragments de vidéo, musique, photographie, encore inachevés. Une invitation à venir débattre et à participer.
Jeudi 23 juin à 19h Atelier: édition de photographie. John Francis Peters, éditeur de photographie de la revue new-yorkaise Fader et photographe de Beyond Digital, nous montre ses photos faites à Casablanca et avec ce matériel – en plus d’autres ouvrages de photographie documentaire – nous propose un atelier participatif sur le travail d’édition.
cross-posted at Mudd Up!
Head over to The Fader to check out the first of my weekly Morocco updates for the month of June, accompanied by photos from John Francis Peters and, of course, music.
Forget Bogart. Casablanca is an utterly modern city, North Africa’s largest, with traffic-choked roadways and upscale neighborhoods and swaths of shantytowns whose residents have satellite dishes but no running water. While most tourists skip Casa to spend their dirhams in more scenic towns, the gritty magnet metropolis pulls in folks from all over the country looking for work, and powers Morocco’s music and art scenes. I’m here for a month with FADER photo editor John Francis Peters and an international crew of six others. Music brought us. . .
This next tune is a song halfway between traditional Berber songs from rural Morocco—popularized in the 1970s by Le Comptoir’s main artist, Mohammed Rouicha—and our Auto-Tuned, pixelated tomorrow. It’s by Adil El Miloudi. Adil performs across Europe and tells me that this summer he’ll be making appearances in to Florida and Boston, for the first time. His breakthrough song, “Nothing Nothing”, has well over a million YouTube views. Adil lives in Kenitra and performs regularly at a Tangier nightclub called the Morocco Palace (free entrance but they gouge you on shisha and drink prices).
The Palace has a light-up disco dance floor and really good subwoofers. Everything else is covered in intricate Islamic pattern woodcarvings, except the enormous flatscreen TV right above the stage, which is set to a music video channel and is never, ever turned off, even when live bands are performing underneath it. Adil rolls around town with a phalanx of young guys whose primary duty seems to be handing him various cellphones at the appropriate moment. I know this because, after calling several of those phones, I found myself, along with Maga Bo, at Adil’s house at four in the morning a month ago. “This is Tom,” he said, pointing at his manager. “And this is Jerry,” he said, pointing at his cat.
The idea is simple: every six weeks or so we gather somewhere for informal talk centered around a good muddy book, then go eat delicious food. We’ll have a live Ustream feed so Cousin Internet and Miss Larry Antitroll can participate.
The inaugural edition will convene on a Casablanca rooftop, around late afternoon/sunset, about six weeks from now. Tea will be served; pastilla بسطيلة afterward — all you need to do is read the book.
Our selection: Maureen F. McHugh’s Nekropolis, a science fiction novel set in 22nd century Morocco involving biochemical slavery, immigration, genetic chimeras, and — last but not least — a new mode of sexuality. Keep reading this post…
On Wednesday April, 13th, starting at 9pm, you can catch musician Giuseppe Ielasi (whose work may be familiar to listeners of my radio show), followed by DJ N-Ron and myself, bringing the party with video-projection accompaniment across a 28-meter long wall courtesy of dotdotdot‘s ‘architectural video mapping’. At the Salone 2011 (Opificio 31, Via Tortona 31).
[dotdotdot’s rendering of their wild video wall]
The Harlem Is Nowhere mix that I did with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts early this year is part of Domus’s City Mixtape series. After Milan I return to Casablanca, where we’ll base the Beyond Digital project (instead of Marrakesh) this summer.
Casablanca is north Africa’s largest city. It’s big and gritty, center to Morocco’s music industry and art scenes… As well as an incredible vinyl spot, Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques (26 ave. Lalla Yacout). Here’s a nice writeup on CMDD: pt 1|pt2 and some photos. One of the world’s great record shops!
[Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques, photo from Tales from Bradistan blog]
[originally posted at Mudd Up!]
I’m a week into this preliminary research trip for Beyond Digital – Rabat, Marrakesh, and tomorrow, Casablanca.
A huge thanks goes out to Marjana, her helpfulness and generosity have made this excursion far more efficient and amazing than would have otherwise been imaginable. Here’s a photo she took of me peering into the distance at Rabat’s Tour Hassan. The Atlantic meets the land in Rabat with a specific kind of rough poetry. I always enjoy seeing how cities deal with the bodies of water that touch them.
The last time I was in Morocco was twelve years ago. And then only briefly. I feel like I’ve changed more than the country has, which may be true of most places + people with a dozen years between visits.
Musically, this has been a rich trip. Learning a lot! One of today’s discoveries: Izenzaren إزنزرن, a kind of golden era Amazigh Nass el Ghiwane, spiritual godfathers to Oudaden, if that means anything to you… For reasons I have yet to discover, unlike Casa and Rabat, there are no MP3 CDs for sale in Marrakesh. It is all audio CDs! A surprise in today’s increasingly compressed times.
I’ve been recording some late-night radio as well as purchasing CDs — also sharing some music I have with those who want it here. Unfortunately I can’t rip or upload audio right now. For a muddy fix, tune in to my radio show tonight – Monday 7-8pm EST WFMU 91.1fm NYC, and check back here very soon for Maghrebi sounds. In the meantime, Youtube. Here’s Izenzaren: They sing in Amazigh and say YES to vocals through generous delay. Especially around 2:45, when someone sets it to a trippy half-second setting. So many ways to negotiate the relationship between body and voice. The last person I saw to sing through delay like that was Lizzie from Gang Gang.
After some meetings in Rabat, we drove to Marrakesh, where I’ve spent most of the week. Late night radio there (90.5 and 97.1 FM) sounds a bit like this, or at least it did yesterday. Abdelhadi Belkhiate عبد الهادي بالخياط. His ‘oriental’ style is a welcome reminder that the best Arab singers of the 60s and 70s got the best backing bands.
That’s all for now…