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."
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