Monday, 30 December 2013

Orquesta la Sabrosa - Los 12 Hits De Merengues Del Año

Here's wishing you all a rump-shaker of a New Year! Happy 2014 people.


01 La Calembrina
02 Comején
03 El Sueño
04 La Guacherna
05 El Gatico
06 Todo es Para Ti
07 Tobaco y Ron
08 La Vecinita
09 El Doctor
10 Las Locas
11 Palo Con Ella
12 Cómetela Ripia

Get it HERE.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Angel Viloria y su Conjunto Típico Cibaeño - Merengues Vol. 1

From Wikipedia:

"Angel Viloria y su Conjunto Típico Cibaeño was a merengue band performing in the US Latin community in the 1950s. It was the first band to enjoy major success in popularizing merengue music outside the Dominican Republic. The band featured Angel Viloria on the accordion (the accordion player was the traditional leader), Ramón E. García on alto saxophone, Luis Quintero on tambora and Dioris Valladares on vocals. Between 1950 and 1952, it notched up a number of hits under the New York based Ansonia Records banner of Rafael Pérez.
In its name, the band claimed to be authentic (tipico) El Cibao music - this is the region in north Dominican Republic, where merengue had its origins. The tipico merengue features a slightly faster tempo, and keeps the accordion sound, as opposed to the jazz-influenced music of Luis Alberti who had adapted merengue to a more urban ethos in the 1940s. The style of Angel Viloria's band however reflected more of the urban Alberti influence than the name admits; the accordion was of course, quite tipico.[1]
By 1953, the band had split up, with Viloria, Quintero, and Valladares forming separate groups."

This little gem was rescued from the £1 bin of a local second hand record shop, and its been bringing heat and a joyful energy into my world this winter.  The frantic rhythms should liven up any gathering over the encroaching party season!


01         A Lo Oscuro        
02         Mi Cariño        
03         Yo Baile Con Joesefina        
04         Dora        
05         Una Mujer De Color        
06         La Empaliza        
07         Consigueme Eso        
08         Quita Sueño        
09         Rosaura        
10         Merengue Cerrao        
11         Eronia        
12         Te Van A Pegar

Get it HERE.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Rahul Dev Burman - Alibaba Aur 40 Chor

I'm quite consious of the fact that new posts have been thin on the ground over recent months.  Really, I've been posting less and less frequently over the course of this year, not because of 'blogger fatigue' or anything like that, but more because I seem to have less spare time, work seem is taking up more of my time than ever before - difficult as I'm naturally a pretty lazy, workshy person.  Luckily my local car boot sale continues to provide regular suprises so here is one of  this weekend's nice finds.

R.D. Burman's soundtrack to this 1980 Indian/Russian movie production is a total pleasure, a hugely enjoyable funky romp with fabulous percussion, bubbling basslines, some fuzzy guitars, huge over the top strings and all your favourite playback singers.  Each track is full of surprising turns and unusual, inventive flourishes that I'm sure will keep me listening over the coming months.  Hopefully you too will find plenty here to pique your interest.

If you have the time and inclination, here is the whole lavish movie for you to feast your eyes (and ears) on.  Just maximise the screen for the English subtitles:

01         Aa Ja Sar-E-Bazar    
02         Music    
03         Khatouba    
04         Title Music        
05         Jadugar Jadu Kar Jayega    
06         Qayamat    
07         Sare Shaher Men

Get it HERE.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Muhammad Hassan - Musical Journey Compiled by the poet Fadl al-Mabrouk Volume 2 (Music from Gaddafi's Libya)

Ola good people!
Here we have another of the wonderful treasures provided by Joachim for our entertainment, education and listening pleasure.
The music on this tape has been beautifully preserved, the tape is in great condition and the sound is fantastic so all you lovers of Arabic and North African music are in for a real treat.
Mohamed Hassan, was one of the few musicians approved for general consumption by Colonel Gaddafi's regime following his ascension to power in the late 1970s.  Hassan composed muscular, nationalist songs whose soaring strings and mournful vocals sound heavy, martial - proud, stubborn and warlike - a hymn to, and invocation of, worldly power.   

You can read a bit about Mohammed Hassan, and modern Libyan music if you like:
Libya's Revolution Sparks a New Age of Music
It (was) oh so quiet: The Music of Libya

Get it HERE.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Another mystery tape from Morocco

We have Joachim to thank for providing us with this wonderful music.  The cassette came without a cover and the print on the case has worn off over time leaving both sides illegible bar the words 'Production Al Afrah'.  Thankfully, the beautiful music is still magically captured on the magnetic strip of tape. The music is from the south of Morocco, possibly the Souss Valley or  High Atlas region. The sound is urgent, insistent and it worms its way into the brain very nicely.

Get it HERE.

Does anybody know who we might be listening to?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lisandro Meza y su Conjunto - Mamando Gallo (1988)

Its been far too long!  I fear I have neglected this little corner of cyberspace over the past few weeks - I've been far too busy to post anything.  By way of apology, please accept this storming selection of Columbian party tunes from one of the key figures in the evolution of the modern cumbia sound.

Lisandro Meza has been involved in the Columbian music scene since the late '50s and was a founding member of Los Corraleros de Majagual, one of the country's most popular groups of the '60s.  He left that group to forge a career playing his accordian and singing songs for the hard-living farm workers and ranchers of rural Columbia. This is exciting stuff I'm sure you'll agree:


01 Rodeado de Pillos
02 Amor Lindo
03 Mamando Gallo
04 Rin Rin
05 Esta Navidad
06 Tutaramacara
07 Mi Companera
08 Jilguerito
09 Azulito Bonito
10 Aguila Del Ecuador

Get it HERE.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Ensemble Gabusi Des Iles - Les Comores (1984)

This beautiful record is another of the treasures sent by Joachim from Germany.  Thanks Joachim!

The Comoros islands sit in the Indian Ocean off the North Western coast of Madagascar and have long been an important stop on the trading routes of African and Arabic sailors.  The music of the islands reflect the diverse cultural influences of the islands visitors, settlers and colonial powers.  Traders, Hadhrami sailors and Malagasy pirates came to the islands and found precious corals, ylang-ylang, spices and gold and among the things they left were rhythms, sounds and songs.

The gabusi is a small lute played in the Comoros isles that has its origins in the Yemen but which can be found (with a variety of names) across East Africa, the Arab peninsula and the islands of the Indian Ocean - a testament to the travels of the Hadhrami traders.


01         Tari        
02         Gabusi        
03         Sambé        
04         Ndzédzé        
05         Dedé        
06         Firimbi        
07         Ndzédzé        
08         Danse Biyaya        
09         Chigoma        
10         Yimbiyo        
11         N'Kandza

Get it HERE.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Años Psicodélicos - Various Artists

This is an incredibly strange record - a Peruvian compilation of (mostly) Brazilian music from the 1970s, the Psychedelic Years.
Side one consists of jazzy, funky, synth heavy MPB.  There are some wonderfully heavy breaks to be heard here.
Side two, on the other hand, presents us with five choice cuts of Brazilian psyche, progressive rock and good old fashioned rock 'n' roll.
All things considered, I'm preferring the funkier side at the moment, but that could change with my mood.

Here are a couple of tasters:


01     Dudziak – Mosquito     
02     H. Belardi – An American In Paris     
03     Lott – Baby         
04     Orlandivo – Tem De Ser (Tiene Que Ser)         
05     Grupo Arco-Yris – Coisas Da Vida (Cosas De La Vida)         
06     Ary Lobo – Nego São (Nego Sano)         
07     Terço – Ilusão De Ótica (Ilusión Ôptica)         
08     Light Reflections – Send It For Tomorrow         
09     Mutantes – Tudo Bem (Estás Bien)         
10     Tutti Frutti – Nessa Altura Dos Acontecimentos (A Estas Alturas De Los Hechos)         
11     Karma – Depois Do Portåo (Después Del Portón)

Get it HERE.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Lattice of Coincidence - A Snap, Crackle & Pop Mix

Hello people! Here's a new mind-manifesting mix of pan-global sounds from the Snap, Crackle & Pop archive.  Specially programmed for your personal entertainment and home listening pleasure, I hope you enjoy this short trip.


1  In A Landscape - Jan Steele
Unknown Poem by Alexander Trocchi   
3  Aman Ya Dnine Aya - Oudaden   
A Lattice of Coincidence   
5  Guaracha UFO - Meridian Brothers
6  Tunisian Sufi Music - Unknown Artist
7  Militant - Ruts DC
8  Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense - Fela Kuti & Africa 80
9  An American In Paris - H. Belardi   
10 Unknown - Akiko Nakemura
11 Blue Panther - Edgar Froese

If you want a copy to keep HERE is the download link.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Edgar Froese - Kamikaze 1989 (1982)

Tangerine Dream mainman Edgar Froese scored the soundtrack to this weird cyberpunk science fiction thriller, which starred Rainer Werner Fassbinder, in 1982.  The album is a lot of fun, offering some paranoid sounding proto-techno alongside some lush soundscapes like this one, Blue Panther:

The album as a whole really got me hankering to hear some of my favourite old Detroit techno:


01         Videophonic         
02         Vitamin C        
03         Krismopompas        
04         Police Disco        
05         Intuition     
06         Police Therapy Center         
07         Blue Panther        
08         Snake Bath         
09         Unexpected Death         
10         Flying Kamikaze         
11         Tower Block         
12         The 31st Floor

Get it HERE.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Authentic R&B - Various Artists (1963)

Here we have a fantastic compilation of swamp blues from Louisiana.  The album comprises songs originally released on the Baton Rouge label, Excello Records during the '50s and early '60s, and there are some real raw footstompers from some of Louisiana's best blues, soul and R&B artists.

Check out this 1958 classic from Lazy Lester:


01     Lightnin' Slim –     I'm Evil       
02     Lazy Lester –     You're Gonna Ruin Me Baby       
03     Slim Harpo –     I Got Love If You Want It       
04     Jimmy Anderson  –     Going Through The Park       
05     Lightnin' Slim –     I'm Warning You Baby       
06     Lonesome Sundown –     Lonesome Lonely Blues       
07     Leroy Washington  –     Wild Cherry       
08     Silas Hogan –     You're Too Late Baby       
09     Lazy Lester –     I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter       
10     Slim Harpo –     I Love The Life I'm Living       
11     Jimmy Anderson  –     Naggin'       
12     Silas Hogan –     I'm Gonna Quit You Pretty Baby       
13     Lonesome Sundown –     I'm Glad She's Mine       
14     Slim Harpo –     I'm A King Bee       
15     Whispering Smith –     Mean Woman Blues       
16     Lightnin' Slim –     Loving Around The Clock

Get it HERE.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Gérard Manset - La Mort D'Orion


This record was rescued from a box of old vinyl in a charity shop in Woodingdean, where it languished amongst heaps of records by Des O'Connor and Slim Whitman.  Weird to find such a strange, symphonic psychedelic prog-rock album in amongst such incongruous company.

The music here is dense and otherworldly and Manset employs a broad palette incorporating gypsy violins, sitars, fuzz guitars and experimental recording techniques alongside all the traditional instruments of the orchestra. 


01         Introduction         
02         Où L'Horizon Prend Fin        
03         Salomon L'Hermite         
04         Final        
05         Vivent Les Hommes        
06         Enchaînement         
07         Ils         
08         Paradis Terrestre        
09         Elégie Funèbre

Get it HERE.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Rafi Jr Y La Diferente - La Diferente

I picked up this splendid bit of Nuyorican salsa at the local boot sale a few weeks ago and it is a winner from start to finish.  Sunshine music to lift the spirit and move the body.
Rafi Valenzuela was a timbal playes and leader of La Diferente - a small group of  Puerto Rican players who released this lp (which was produced by salsa legends Willie Colón and Johnny Pacheco) in 1971.


01         A Mi Nena        
02         El Coco        
03         No Puedo Mas        
04         Quitate        
05         Faluking        
06         Tu Y Yo        
07         Sabra Dios        
08         Monina Y Ramon        
09         Vida        
10         El Bardo

Get it HERE.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Passy Mermans - Les Grands Succes Africains Vol. 6

Alphonse Mpassy, or Passy Mermans as he became known, was one of the lightning fingered guitarists from Brazzaville's legendary rumba rollers, Orchestre Bantous and this is a wonderful collection of songs he wrote.
This music just makes me very happy and I think you probably need it in your life.

On the downside, the first song jumps a couple of times at the beginning, but after that its all good.


01 Badetty (Orchestre Bantous)
02 C'est Serieux Tantine (Orchestre Bantous)
03 Bubote Mona Pele (Orchestre Bantous)
04 A Mon A Vis (Orchestre Bantous)
05 Ata Ko Poso Moko (Orchestre Les Nzoy)
06 Mazekimba (Orchestre Les Nzoy)
07 Masolo (Orchestre Lisolo)
08 Owelaki Mingi (Orchestre Lisolo)
09 ATC Voie Ferree (Orchestre Bantous)

Get it HERE.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Scientist - Crucial Cuts Vol. 2 (1986)

Scientist is a true innovator in the world of dub reggae.  He was and electric wizard, a protégé of King Tubby, and a fearless vampire killer.  Pour yourself a rum, sit back and check out these crucial cuts.


01         13 Bread Lane Dub         
02         11 Guava Road Dub         
03         Ethiopian High Priest         
04         The President         
05         Forgive Them Oh Jah         
06         Everlasting Version         
07         Knock Out Version         
08         King Sturgav         
09         People's Choice, The Lion        
10         Dub The Daughter

Get it HERE.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Lhoucine Amarrakchi - Berber Music from the Souss Valleys

This cassette is another of the wonderful treasures provided by Joachim.  It's Berber music complete with banjos, rabab and hectic percussion.  Its a high energy affair and I hope you enjoy it.

On the end of each side we are lucky enough to find an incredibly strange instrumental track with rabab and banjo playing over synthesised backing.  Each of these tracks cut short leaving me hanging out for more - if anyone knows where to get the complete tracks I'd love to hear from you.


Side One
Side Two

Get it HERE.

Finally, any translations, or info about this artist would be much appreciated.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Maria Bethania - A Arte Maior de Maria Bethania

Maria Bethania is one of Brazil's best loved singers.  She is the sister of Caetano Veloso and one of the leading lights of the Tropicalia movement.

What we have here is the first record of a two disc compilation of songs recorded between 1978 and 1982, and these tracks are smooth and slick; they ooze like syrup out of the speakers, sultry, torrid and redolent of romance and hot nights.

Might be your bag, or it might not:


01         Explode Coração        
02         Negue        
03         Alguém Me Avisou        
04         Maravida        
05         De Todas As Maneiras        
06         Mel        
07         Começaria Tudo Outra Vez        
08         Olhos Nos Olhos        
09         Grito De Alerta        
10         Ronda        
11         Talismã        
12         O Lado Quente Do Ser        
13         Mentira De Amor        
14         Da Cor Brasileira

Get it HERE.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ruts D.C. - Present Rhythm Collision Volume 1

The Ruts were a very popular UK punk band famous for catchy tunes such as Staring at the Rude Boys:

or Babylon's Burning:

The group's lead singer, Malcolm Owen, died of an overdose in 1980, but the remaining members changed the group's name to Ruts DC and fell further into the reggae that had always deeply influenced the Ruts' sound.  Rhythm Collision Vol. 1 was their first collaboration with Peckham dub master, the Mad Professor, and it is an astonishing album of cuts  blend dub and funk whilst also managing to maintain a punk sensibility.

I was very excited when I found this one at my local boot sale a couple of weeks ago, and I hope you will share in a bit of that excitement.

Check out Push Yourself - Make it Work:


01         Whatever We Do (Inst.)        
02         Militant        
03         Push Yourself - Make It Work        
04         Rhythm Collision        
05         Accusation        
06         Pleasures Of The Dance        
07         Weak Heart Dub        
08         Love & Fire

Get it HERE.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Musik der Nubier / Nordsudan - Various Artists

Here, for your entertainment and listening pleasure, is an incredible collection of field recordings made by German ethnomusicologist, Artur Simon, in the early 1970's in Northern Sudan. Once again we should extend our thanks to Joachim for switching us on to this one.

There are extensive liner notes contained in a booklet included with the album so you can read those if you are interested to learn more about the Nubian people, their culture, their music and these recordings.
Download a PDF of the booklet in English HERE.
Download a PDF of the booklet in German HERE.


01     Dahab Khalil, Unknown Artist – Ay Fa Kir Noogonilla / Ich Werde Zu Deinem Haus Kommen / I Will Come To Your House      
02     Mohammed Awad, Unknown Artist – Ajjibeeri Dessa Massoodta Daffo / Ich Möchte Wissen, Ob Die "Grüne" Schöne Fortgegangen Ist / I Wonder, If The "Green" Beautiful One Has Gone Away       
03     Mohammed Awad, Unknown Artist – Tanzmusik Ohne Gesang Aus Mahas / Dance Music Without Singing From Mahas         
04     Hussein Mohammed Ahmed Wagiya Allah – Waya-Logo Wayag Onnon / Von Waya / About Waya
05     Khalil Soliman, Salah Kurdi, Hassan Fagir, Ahmed Hassan – Dukka Mengimmi Ter Gedemga / Geh' Gemessenen Schritts / Walk Step By Step         
06     Hassan Fagir – Beledeena / Von Meinem Dorf / About My Village         
07     Unknown Artist – Belal Er Isampun? / Wohin Gehst Du, Meine Liebe? / Where Are You Going, My Love?         
08     Unknown Artist – Tanzgesänge Auf Einer Hochzeit / Dance Songs At A Wedding         
09     Hassan Mohammed Gamal, Mohammed Hassan Awad, Unknown Artist - Ollin Araglid / Händeklatschen Und Tanzen / Handclapping And Dancing         
10     Soliman Abu Zeid, Mohammed Fadl Bilal, Ramadan Soliman, Hassan Ahmed Mohammed Ramadan, Ahmed Moheddin, Ahmed Merghanni – Allah Ya Saadu Leh / Allahs Wille Obsiegt / Allah's Will Prevails
11     Ali Ahmed Ali, Sayyed Ahmed Soliman, Garmal Ahmed Soliman, Abd El-Rahman – Wadi Halfa Woo Haniina / Wadi Halfa, Oh Mein Geliebtes Land / Wadi Halfa, Oh My Beloved Country         
12     Hassan Fagir, Salah Kurdi, Khalil Soliman – Hm Bee        
13     Unknown Artist – Hm Bee / Seera         
14     Hassan Soliman Awad – Kalakiya         
15     Abdin Osman Sheikh Idris, Hassan Hussein – Wo Karim Babuur Takona / Ich Möchte Wissen, Ob Der Dampfer Angekommen Ist / I Wonder If The Steamer Has Arrived        
16     Ali Mohammed Abdallah – Gesang Über Ein Liebesabenteuer / Song About A Love-Affair         
17     Salih Ali Soliman – Gesang Auf Dem Eskalee (Schöpfrad) / Song On The Eskalee (Water-Wheel)   18     Unknown Artist – Gesang Bei Der Feldarbeit / Song At Field Work    
19     Zahra Osman Sherif – Wiegenlied / Lullaby Lo-Lo-Lo    
20     Aziza Abdo Shergawi, Tamaya Said, Hogla Mohammed Idris – Lied Bei Beschneidungen Und Hochzeiten / Song At Circumcision And Wedding Ceremonies         
21     Unknown Artist – Bellaal Ya Bellaal / Geliebter Held / Beloved Hero         
22     Fatima Gasheila Sakina (2) – Wad Albatar Batraan Tood / Oh Sohn Der Tapfersten Aller Männer / Oh Son Of The Bravest Men Of All        
23     Unknown Artist – Gashel, Gashelin Buru / Verwöhnte Tochter / Spoiled Daughter         
24     Fatima Gasheila – Ambaabi Ay Yaaba / Oh Mein Geliebter Vater / Oh My Beloved Father        
25     Zeinab Mohammed, Wahiba – Gesang Beim Kornmahlen Mit Den Mahlsteinen / Song While Grinding With Millstones        
26     Fatma Farah Abbas Unknown Artist – Shergangallo / Laßt Uns Gen Osten Ziehen / Let Us Go Eastwards     
27     Unknown Artist – Diya Wo Ailan / Es Ist Genug, Oh Mein Herz / It Is Enough, Oh My Heart

Get it HERE.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Altain Orgil - Ruf Der Steppe

This amazing tape is one of many sent to me by Joachim from Heidelberg.  Joachim has very kindly donated a real treasure trove of music from around the world to Snap, Crackle and Pop and we should all be grateful as there will now be some really strange and wonderful music posted here over the coming months.
Altain Orgil are a Mongolian group who were (and maybe still are) based in Germany in the mid '90s.  This cassette is from 1994.

Joachim has this to say about Altain Orgil:

"I met this group in the city centre of Heidelberg in 1994. They were playing their instruments and doing the extraordinary throat singing which is typical for mongolian and other inner-asian tribes. I heard throat singing before on the radio but it is a completely extraordinary feeling standing among musicians who do it. The sound penetrates your body and makes it vibrate in a peculiar way. The musicians also let me touch their instruments like the horse-headed Morin Khuur, which sounds a bit like a cello, or the lute Tobshuur."

This is really quite magical music and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I am.

Get it HERE.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Ganelin Trio - New Wine (1982)

It feels like a while since the last post, but here we are, back with a real treat.  This live album from Russian free jazz ensemble, The Ganelin Trio, was a real find at the local bootsale a couple of weeks ago, and it comes out fighting right from the beginning. Its hard to believe that three people can make such a range of aberrant noises.
 You can read a bit about the group, who were regarded as one of the best free jazz acts of the '70s and '80s (if that means anything to you), over here and here.


01 26th June 1982 Part 1
02 26th June 1982 Part 2

Get it HERE.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Admiral Dele Abiodun & His Top Hitters International - Ring My Number:Temi Laago (1988)

This chunk of late '80s juju is a bit infectious; the fidgety rhythms propel us at speed through the delightful wash of slide guitars and vocal harmonies. It's raining here in Brighton but this is the sound of summer.


Side 1: Mo Kan'Lekun Oro / Eni Kanju Ola / Emi O Majo / Temi Laago (821 367)

Side 2: Maranti Olore / Temi O Ni Soro / Kolre Baje / Adawa Loni Juju

Get it HERE.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Hamadsha: More Trance Music from Morocco

Along the Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid there is a tiny shop where a smartly dressed old gentleman makes and repairs ouds, banjos and violins.  Inside the shop are banks of old hi-fi equipment and large numbers of old records and cassettes which are not for sale.  Whilst chatting with the old man (in my stilted French) I asked whether he had copies of any Hamadsha ceremonies.  Surprised by my request, he turned and started to pull old shoe boxes full of tapes from shelves at the back of the shop.  After a time he found what he was looking for - an old tape in a plain box with no cover.  He said he would make a copy of the tape and that I should come back for it the next day.  I returned the next day and gave the man some dirhams in return for the newly copied cassette.

I can give you no imformation about this music, but below is an extract from Vincent Crapanzano's 1973 book, The Hamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry:
A square in front of the tomb of Sheikh al-Karnal in Meknes was just beginning to fill up with townsmen, families from the nearby shantytowns, and a few Berber and Arab tribesmen when we arrived at 2:45 on a Friday afternoon in January.  We were immediately surrounded by children - whom we had to fend off, sometimes violently, as they gaped and grabbed with curiosity at us.  In one corner of the square a line of beggar women, huddled together, were blankly watching a woman prance around to the wailing of four or five singers, hawking blessings for a few francs.  Near them, a tiny, wizened old man, dressed in a white tunic, was neatly laying out a plastic tablecloth.  He sat down on it, held up his staff between his legs, and wept.  He was generally ignored.  A circle of children had formed around another man who bandied a stick and shouted at them, and occassionally pulled open his shirt and puffed out his lungs through a round hole in his chest.  Here and there crowds were starting to press around candy and orange vendors, con men and tricksters, story tellers and preachers, dancers and fortune-tellers.  In the corner closest to the tomb of their saint, Sheikh al-Karnal, the founder of the famed brotherhood of the Isawiyya and the patron of Meknes, a group of adepts began their dance.  As we moved through the crowd to watch them, we were suddenly attracted by the sound of the oboe known as the ghita and were told that the Hamadsha, whom we had come to see, were about to start their performance.
We were greeted warmly by Ali, a denizen of the nearby shantytown whom we had met earlier in the day when he chased children from our car with a big stick.  He shook our hands over and oevr again while the rest of the Hamadsha prepared their instruments.  There were nine in all: three guwwala who played a large pottery drum shaped like and hourglass; one tabbal who played a snare drum, two ghiyyata who played the oboe; two money collectors, Ali and another man who reminded me of a New England church usher; and a dance leader, or muqaddim.  The drummers were tightening their drums over a paper and cardboard fire as the ghiyyata tuned their instruments.  Ali began to recite a prayer, or fatha, and to ask for money from the spectators who had gathered in a circle around the Hamadsha.  He had a showman's sense of gesture and timing.
Suddenly the ghiyyata began to play.  It was 3:11 pm.  The crowd of men, women and children pressedinward and were violently pushed back by Ali and the "usher" until a semi-circle was formed, with the musicians at one end, against the wall of the square, and a group of ten or eleven men standing shoulder to shoulder opposite them.  The men raised themselves up on their toes and pounded down hard on their heels to the rhythm of the drums.  At the same time, they raised and lowered their shoulders in a sort of ongoing shrug and hissed out air, occassionally chanting "Allah! Allah! Allah te eternal! Allah the adorable!"  The muqaddim, a yellow-faced man dressed in a bright green acetate robe, danced directly in front of them, encouraging those who had fallen out of rhythm,  Sometimes he would jump in the air, spin around, and land hard on his heels.  At other times he  would leap into the air and, as he landed, bring his outstretched fists in against his chest as though he were lancing himself.  And at still other times he would pound his chest with his fists in a sort of breast-stroke motion.
Almost immediately after the line of male dancers had formed, two women, one in a pale blue jallaba and the other in a black one, pushed their way through the crowd and began to dance directly in front of the ghiyyata.  They did not move their feet as the men did, but instead bobbed up and down from the waist, their heads nearly hitting the ground, or swayed their bodies back and forth in much the motion that Arab women use to wash their floors.  Their hair had come loose and was flying in all directions.  They reminded me of ancient maenads.  Two other women joined them: all the women seemed to fall into trance much more quickly, and easily, than the men.
By 3:30 there were four women dancing and the line of men had grown to 21.  There must have been between 200 and 300 spectators standing in the circle and perched on the walls of the square.  Ali and the "usher" made the rounds, collecting - almost extracting - a few francs from each of the spectators.  The drumming remained constant, or so it seemed to me; it was the ghita which was producing the variations in sound. The drumming, by this time, had begun to have a dulling effect on me, and the music of the ghita an irritating one.  I noticed that many of the spectators, especially those nearest the ghiyyata, were in a light trance or at least dazed.  Their eyes seemed glazed, fixed on the musicians or the dancers.  The smell of all the hot, close, sweating bodies was stifling.
The performance went on, without much variation, until a few minutes after 4.  Occasionally one of the male dancers would leave the line and dance in the center space, alone or with the muqaddim.  Usually such dancers were in an entranced frenzy and were not able to follow the rhythm of the dance very well.  One of the female dancers was led by a fat man, who participated only peripherally in the dance and seemed to be a sort of helper to the performers, over to the line of male dancers and made to dance with them.  This seemed to relax her, to "bring her down."
At 4:15 there was a hush in the crowd as an extremely tall man in white robes, with a gold scarf around his neck, entered the dance area.  A woman poked me and told me that he was a seer and a true Hamdushi.  A man signaled that he was a homosexual who played the passive role.  His costume was, in fact, effeminate, his breasts well developed, his hair long and curly, and his neck so swollen that I suspected some sort of glandular disorder.  In a few minutes he was deep in a "chattering" trance: his mouth was opening and closing at a rate well out of the range of voluntary behaviour.  His head was thrust far back, his eyes were popping.  He wandered, disoriented, around the center of the circle. Then the ghiyyata changed their tune slightly, and he was immediately "drawn" to them.  He danced before them, his back to the audience, in a way which was closer to the women's dance to the men's.  He seemed more closed in upon himself than the othe dancers, more separated from the audience and the other performers.  Suddenly he began to beat his head with what appeared to be his fists but were in facttwo pocket knives, one in each hand.  The woman next to me whispered, "Aisha, Aisha Qandisha." Faster and faster he slashed at his head (the music too seemed faster), until his long curls were matted down with blood and his back and face were streaked with it.
Many of the men and women looked on dispassionately, but the children in the audience grew restive and excited.  More than one mother raised her baby high in her arms  to see the slashing.  The muqaddim began to dash frenetically around the perimeter of the circle.  His eyes bulging, he asked for a knife, but the "helper" refused and, pulling the muqaddim toward him, took the leader's head under his arm and scratched it.  When the muqaddim finally regained his senses, the helper kissed him on the cheek and released him.  By this time the head-slasher had stopped and was seated in a corner near some women, a very pained expression on his face.  The musicians continued to play the same tune and in a minute or two he was up again, dancing and slashing with even more abandon than before.  Then suddenly, unexpectedly, he sat down again among the women.  One of them began to bind his scalp with a pale blue scarf, another kissed his bloody hands and licked the blood that had stained her veil.  A baby was lifted over the crowd and handed to the slasher, who kissed him.  A third woman smeared a little blood on the baby's stomach.  The slasher no longer looked pained; his expression was now radiant.
It was now 4:35.  The musicians had changed their tune, and the dance seemed calmer to me.  Twenty men were still pounding and hissing in their line.  Several women had danced though the head-slashing scene, quite oblivious to it; one of them, a woman in black, had been bobbing up and down since the beginning of the performance, and hour and a half before.  The rest of the dance seemed very unreal to me.  I felt very distant, very removed from what was going on in front of me.
At 4:55 the ghiyyata blew two or three long, wailing blasts, and the performance was over.  A few of the performers shook hands while the crowd dispersed.  Several women came up to the slasher to ask his blessing.  The 'Isawa, the followers of Sheikh al-Kamal were still dancing in their corner, but they had drawn a much smaller crowd than the Hamadsha.  We were told that the Miliana, the followers of an Algerian saint who specialize in playing with and eating fire, had also performed, as well as a branch of the 'Isawiyya that charm snakes.

Friday, January 12, 1968
Sheikh al-Kamal, Meknes

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