Review | Songlines

Live in Paris

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


The Master Musicians of Joujouka


Unlistenable Records


The collective of Sufi trance musicians led by Ahmed El Attar (one of two troupes spawning from the village of Joujouka in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco) has done much to popularise the hypnotic music they devote their lives to, performing around the world and collaborating with ambient duo The Orb. But, as these pristine recordings from 2016 reveal, they've done so without the slightest deviation from their 1,000-year-old tradition.

These performances feel like a mythic transmission beamed from antiquity. The concert begins with flutes setting up a high, trilling drone weaving in and out of hand percussion. Next comes a handful of songs, with the late Abdeslam Boukhzar leading a throaty call-and-response and Sheik Ahmed Talha providing a tart, prancing commentary on the kamanja (mountain violin) as the drums gather momentum and energy. But all this is merely a prelude to the main event – the phenomenal 43-minute ‘Boujeloud’ ritual, in which keening, oboe-like raita spin a dizzying web over furiously pounding drums, building to a truly transcendent climax. If you haven't yet been able to attend the Master Musicians’ annual festival at home in Joujouka, this is the next best thing.

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