La Danza Poetica #62 The Poem of the Truth

"Between the '50s and '60s [in Morocco] ... independent labels were flourishing after 44 years of French occupation and the real voice, the poetry, or "Kassidat" ... began to be properly documented on the new and relatively inexpensive 45 format. Essentially this music is a folk or street equivalent to rap or hip hop nowadays, driven by strong rhythms and repetitive hooks for the poet's typical call-and-response choruses and lyrics concerning contemporary local issues, politics and gossip. The case in point is ... Abdellah el Magana's 'Kassidat el Hakka' (The Poem Of The Truth); driven by the ruggedest, hypnotic rhythm of the Bendir drum and the reedy wheeze of twin qasba pipes, Abdellah sings, or even raps, with a double timed flow stepping over the stop/start Raï beat with effortless grace while at once deploring the morals of the young generation at the time with "salcious depictions of gamblers, drunks and "modern" girls". Ironically enough, it's the kind of groove which, with a bit of extra oomph and a sawtooth synth would get kids gyrating like it ain't no thang nowadays, but was more likely to be played to solemn, red-eyed fellas in a hash den back then."

I love this description of the recordings re-released by Dust to Digital on the Kassidat collection. In particular, the acknowledgement of the continuum, of poetry/hip hop/slam poetry ... this expression of story, of voice, of rhythm in voice, has never stopped. In our endless categorising and recategorising of creative forms, I think we too easily forget that. 

In this month's La Danza Poetica, Abdellah el Magana's Kassidat el Hakka forms the centre. And Moroccan dancer, choreographer, performance and sound artist Sukitoa o Namau’s current recordings from and around the streets of Meknés, Morocco, form the canvas on which this whole mix has been painted.

Sound is of course not often about truth. But raw recordings of the lives of humans, animals, and our world are. Many of the electronic works in this show combine archival and field recordings, making for rich, complex listening. 

So #62 is a mix of sublime, poetic music and word and sound from Morocco, Tunisia, Syria. Poetry and music are inextricably intertwined, in a constant dance, in music, language and rhythm, and life.

Also featuring Moroccan slam poet Mustapha Slameur, very conscious and complex folktronics / electronics from Tunisia’s Ghoula and NURI, the France/Morocco collaboration of Titi Robin and Mehdi Nassouli, Syria’s Muudra paying tribute to Vîyan Peyman, and reworking Emel Mathlouthi’s great song ‘Layem’, DJ Tudo connecting Morocco with Brazil, plus, 'honoured ghost' Paul Bowles' sweet and sad little poems, and of course the classic recordings from Morocco released by the Dust to Digital project.

"[not] the language of high art, but an often impenetrable vernacular poetry of oblique references, symbols, metaphors, and double entendres that describes the lives of average Moroccans."

Tracklist

Sukitoa o Namau - Field Recordings (Morocco - 2017)
Ghoula - Dawri
Mustapha Slameur - Alwan -ألوان
Sukitoa o Namau - Field Recordings (Morocco - 2017)
Paul Bowles - Here I Am
Abdellah el Magana - Kassidat el Hakka (The Poem of the Truth)
Paul Bowles - Nights
DJ Tudo e sua gente de todo lugar - Le Monde est malade
Muudra - Way Li Minê Dub (Vîyan Peyman Tribute)
Emel Mathlouthi - Layem (Muudra Rework)
Ghoula - Ba77it
Titi Robin - Diplômé (feat. Mehdi Nassouli)
Bennasser Oukhouya and Cheikha Hadda Ouakki - Ha Howa Ha Howa (That’s Him)
Mustapha Slameur - Kantssena كنتسنا
NURI - Bouderbel
Sukitoa o Namau - Field Recordings (Morocco - 2017)
NURI - Tie
Mustapha Slameur - Tilifoun 3arbi تليفون عربي
Sukitoa o Namau - 10dh
Emel Mathlouthi - Fi Kolli Yawmen
Sukitoa o Namau - Field Recordings (Morocco - 2017)

Notes on the show

Sukitoa o Namao's experimental sounds work in concert with her dance and visual art work. In 2012, she created her dance company UCHRONIE and broadened her research to the subject of Choreographical Thresholds and to a possible dance below and beyond the dancing body. She incorporated sound to her practice while directing a dance piece, Des fleurs pour Schrödinger, for which she composed and performed a soundtrack. From then on, she has been using sound as a medium to deepen her reflection about Thresholds and to delve into concepts and processes like fascination, hypnosis, « aura » and trance as gateways.*

*bio borrowed from Audible Women

Poet Mustapha Slameur is at the vanguard of the emerging slam poetry scene in Morocco. His first album Slam 3likoum has a minimalist feel, with crisp sound effects, samples and scenes opening up each track into a short story. Mustapha's philosophy is not only to tell stories but also to enable the stories of others - in this, he is working from the truth of poetry, the community and the collective. At his YouTube site find, in both Arabic and French, videos of his works sometimes with lyrics, conversations and travels. I've only just discovered Mustapha's storytelling, looking forward to more. 

I didn't end up playing any tracks in the show from Paul Bowles' Morocco recordings, though I mentioned it. The album is Music of Morocco and you can get it from Dust to Digital. They have re-released and extended the original collection from the Library of Congress. If you're interested in exploring his perspective more, there's a good article about Paul Bowles and his recordings, and his tenuous position as a folklorist, at The New Yorker.

Love this video directed by Abdelaziz B.G.H. and NURI, of Drup:

And Ghoula:

Speaking of Shouka, the Tunisian label both NURI and Ghoula are released with .. there is another track I didn't have time to include, a teaser from the forthcoming Under Frustration Vol. 1. Intriguing and dark,  and complex, I'm waiting on a full listen.

From the press: 

Under Frustration is a compilation project by Tunisian collective Arabstazy, establishing a picture of the contemporary electronic music scene in the Arab World. This musical journey stands for the diversity of this scene, and deconstructs the occidental perceptions that sees the Arab World as a culturally united and homogeneous entity. It is a manifesto for the burgeoning wave of post-revolution futurism.

Main image: Sukitoa o Namau