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Gnawa Music Of Marrakesh - Night Spirit Masters


  • £22.50

Format: LP
Catalogue No.: ZEHRA006
Barcode: 5050580775718
Release Date: 19 Aug 2022
Genre: Africa

Remastered vinyl reissue of this 1990 BILL LASWELL / RICHARD HOROWITZ production of local Gnawa musicians, recorded in the Medina of Marrakesh. According to Allmusic.com "a must for fans of both African and Middle Eastern music" and voted one of the "10 essential Gnawa albums" by Songlines.

The Gnawa are an ethnic minorityin today's Morocco, descendents of slaves from West Africa who were brought to Morocco in the 16th century and who (although they quickly converted to Islam) nevertheless brought with them remnants of their animistic practices. The Gnawa perform a complex ceremony (called lila or derdeba) that over the duration of several hours recreates the genesis of the universe by the evocation of the seven main manifestations of the divine, represented by seven colours. Those ceremonies, led by a master or "maleem", are still taking place today privately while Gnawa music in general has clearly been modernizing and thus become more profane, but witnessing a performance is still an astonishing experience.

With the exception of a handful of recordings by PAUL BOWLES and PHILIP SCHUYLER (more ethnographic documents in a field recordings style), Gnawa music was barely heard outside of Morocco before 1990 – one of the first westerners to come and record the music was BILL LASWELL, back then running his AXIOM label that portrayed a wide range of ethnic music and musicians like THE MASTER MUSICIANS OF JAJOUKA or MALEEM MAHMOUD GHANIA, to name just two.

"Night Spirit Masters", recorded in the Medina of Marrakech, delivers soulful tracks of lead and group singers in call/ response mode, fired by sentirs, drums, hand clapping, and qrakechs, while others are drum features or sentir/ vocal pieces. Over 30 years after its initial release, this essential Gnawa album is finally available again – remastered and on 180gr audiophile vinyl!

"Gnawa, bottom heavy trance music of North Africa. Repetitive bass lines, generated by the gimbri or sintir with metal clappers, hand drums and voice. Seven trances, seven colors, seven scents, Gnawa not only moves, it can remove." Bill Laswell
Hell's Kitchen, NYC, May 2022

Produced by Bill Laswell and Richard Horowitz
Recorded by Billy Youdelman
Mixed by Bruce Calder
Mastered at Masterdisk by Howie Weinberg
Remastered and lacquer cut by Kassian Troyer at D&M

“This Bill Laswell-produced recording is a must for fans of both African and Middle Eastern music.”
Stephen Cook — Allmusic.com

“This is the real deal, polyrhythms galore, intense music that can transport you to another realm altogether.”
Tom Schnabel — KCRW Radio

“This has been long admired as one of the benchmark discs of Gnawa music.” — Songlines

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