Master Musicians of Joujouka | Boujeloud

Sub Rosa • www.subrosa.net

For all its wonder and glory, nobody does trance quite like the Moroccan group Master Musicians of Joujouka. Though they were brought to the world's attention via Paul Bowles, William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, who've traveled to visit their enchanted stomping grounds, their musical heritage actually goes back to the beginning of time.

One of my personal richest musical highlights was a live concert this ensemble put on in Toronto late in 1995. Accompanied by Bachir Attar (who is noticeably missing from this recording), they ravaged the audience for well over two hours, putting everyone in a wild trance. Some people were up on the floor of Convocation Hall, dancing their asses off, while others were wildly staring at the stage, too much in awe to be able to react to the music in any constructive fashion.

Taking its name from an ancient ritual, where people rejoice at the arrival of music in the village (similar to the Greek myth of Pan - Boujeloud - half-man, half-goat - gave a flute to a shepherd as barter for a wife), Boujeloud is the most trance-oriented of Joujouka releases so far. Working with a wicked beat (four drummers) and a huge lira and rhaita section (that's the buzzing coming from your speakers), the Master Musicians enthrall right from the start. Four different versions of "Boujeloud" showcase different variations on the same theme. Percussion played by these men sounds hollow and persistently stubborn. It's stubborn in its sense of refusing to adhere to any rules and this maddening fury drives their music forwards and upwards into the sky. After a few minutes of The Beat and having been soothed with lyrical, often-times soft lira playing that is repeated over and over again, one's mind tends to wonder. Your eyes close and you're magically transported to that land, where the sun scorches the earth, where people live a life that is full of hardship and where music is seen as the one true god.

This is music for worship and for tuning in and dropping out. If you're able to conduct any chores while listening to this, I salute you. I'm with the other batch — the devout followers who need to be moved by this music, need to feel its warmth and its intense trance qualities. After spinning this disc a dozen times in a row, all other music holds little meaning.

Tom Sekowski – January 2008 – (first published in Gaz-Eta)

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Tom Sekowski
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