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Product Image Various Artists: Ecstatic Music of the Jemaa El Fna LP
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Various Artists: Ecstatic Music of the Jemaa El Fna LP

The Jemaa El Fna is the classic bazaar or marketplace in the center of Marrakesh. It has been the go-to meeting center for centuries. At night, however, the musicians arrive in force, producing sounds from Gnawa-inspired ruminations on bass to modern popular chaabi. From a recording in 2005 that manages to capture the rawness of an evening or two of music (with car battery amplification, fuzzy speakers everywhere, ambient noises), a handful of pieces are presented here from three groups --Amal Saha, Troupe Majidi, and Mustapha Mahjoub (with a single track). The music is pounding, thrashing, jubilant all at once. The sound is exotic in its chord changes, but familiar as a bit of twisted sound related to those recordings of exotica that have been ravaged by time to a lower, tweaked fidelity. There are few ways to get sounds more authentic than nighttime concerts in a market, and there are relatively few such recordings better than this one. In terms of modern Moroccan music -- what contemporary Moroccans are actually listening to (not just fusion with Gnawa elements) -- this is perhaps one of the best and most finger-on-the-button albums out there.



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