Lost links & Re-ups

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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

02 May 2013

Western Sahara

The Polisario Front dispute for independence is an ongoing conflict between the Polisario Front of the Sahrawi people & Morocco. The conflict is the continuation of the past insurgency by Polisario against the Spanish colonial forces in 1973-1975 & the ensuing Western Sahara War between the Polisario & Morocco which lasted from 1975 until 1991. Currently large parts of Western Sahara are controlled by the Moroccan Government. That area is known as the Moroccan Southern Provinces, whereas some 20 to 25% of the Western Sahara territory remains controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the Polisario state which still has limited international recognition. The questions of mutual recognition, establishment of a possible Sahrawi state & the large numbers of Sahrawi refugees displaced by the conflict are among the key issues of the ongoing Western Sahara turmoil.

I imagine everyone out here in blogland is familiar with this group. Their releases are available elsewhere. I just couldn’t fathom covering Western Sahara without posting this. Group Doueh are one of my all-time favorite bands. From out of the wind swept Sahara or from a space band in deepest reaches of the galaxy that grew up listening to radio beams from the third stone from Sol, this musick is some of the most alien & unique musick I have ever heard. There is really nothing else like it. Group Doueh.

Born in Dakhla, Western Sahara in 1964, Hassaniyan Salmou Bamaar is an accomplished electric guitar player, having played the instrument since childhood. After performing in a variety of groups, he formed his own band, Group Doueh, in 1981.

I have decide to post up their debut album, Guitar Music from the Western Sahara, & their latest release, Zayna Jumma, to contrast the rawness but essential beauty of the first with the more polished yet expected perfection of their most recent. Much of the material on the first release spanned several decades of recordings culled from the tape archives of band leader Doueh (Salmou Baamar). Doueh & his family/band traverse the timelessness of the Sahara that is so exactly mirrored in the chopped-up styles & different eras reflected in the sweet personal North African blues the band cultivated from their home in Dakhla.

Much has been written about Doueh's childhood worship of Jimi Hendrix & James Brown. It is true that those influences are obvious at times, but so are much influence from traditional forms of Sahrawi & Gnawa music. One of his guitars pictured on the back of the LP has extra frets added to allow Doueh to play the quarter tones that western guitar designs don’t. Always his playing is electric in all senses of the word; he effortlessly channels all the power of a sandstorm onto the six strings of his guitar.
On the first side of Guitar Music from the Western Sahara, some of the recordings are very tinny sounding, especially the first two songs. This takes away from Doueh's exceptional gutiar playing on songs like "Eid El Arsh". But these songs were taken from home recordings, still a little rough but more than acceptable. Although the recording quality may be sketchy, the power of the music still comes through strong. On later songs, the recordings become much cleaner & Doueh’s playing is given the space it deserves. Opening the second side of the LP is "Dun Dan," a song on which Doueh plays lightning fast sweeps unlike any other guitarist that I’ve ever heard.

On Guitar Music from the Western Sahara, Group Doueh are: Bashiri – vocals; Doueh – guitar & tinidit; Jamal – keyboards; & Halima Jakani – vocals & percussion.

 Group Doueh – GuitarMusic from the Western Sahara, Sublime Frequencies SF030, 2007.
decryption codes in comments

Side A –
Eid for Dakhla
Eid Al Arsh

Side B –
Dun Dan
Wazan Samat
Sabah Lala
Cheyla Ya Haiuune

On their fourth release, 2011s Zayna Jumma, many of the sonic problems of Guitar Music… have been addressed, overcome, & left in the blowing sandstorm of the Sahara. Hisham Mayet has much to do with this fact. Co-founder (along with Sir Alan Bishop) of Sublime Frequencies, & working with Group Doueh since their debut release, he has added his expertise to the overall output. On the first album he wrote the liner notes. On the second album, Treeg Salaam, he compiled & edited the recordings for the release. By the third album, Beatte Haram, he has taken over recording, as well as editing & compiling. On Zayna Jumma he has optimized the bands sound, dampening the band's earlier lo-fi recording techniques while maintaining the raw heart of the Group Doueh sound. He made these recordings sound as spontaneous as possible. "Zaya Koum" feels like you're sitting in on one of their earliest session in a cozy private get-together in Dakhla, where Doueh is happy to play himself into guitar oblivion while his family works around him.

Group Doueh has always been a family affair, with Doueh’s wife Halima on vocals & various percussion instruments, his son El Waar on organ & keyboards & son Hamdan on drums. Doueh himself alternates between a three-stringed lute called a tinidit & the electric guitar.

The tinny percussion sound of earlier albums has been replaced by much more boisterous playing from Hamdan. Here Doueh more regularly swaps out the tinidit for his electric guitar. He even breaks out some chunky wah-wah guitar in "Ishadlak Ya Khey", which might be the Group’s most rock song ever. The rock/pop/blues melodies that have always been present are given greater clarity without losing the pan-global mash-up of cultures Group Doueh has so ingeniously threaded together.

At the heart of all this extremely fantastic musick is the man whose name the group honors, Salmou Bamaar…Doueh. His personality lies at the soul of this groups musick. He is a humble man. He continues to run his cassette store. He still works at Group Doueh's primary musickal outlet, a wedding band performing for friends, neighbors & other Dakhlans. He had resisted all attempts to release his music until Mayet travelled across a large part of northwest Africa to meet him after hearing a few of his songs on the radio.

On Zayna Jumma, Group Doueh are: Tricha – vocals & kass (tea glasses); Salmou Bamaar (Doueh) -  guitar & tinidit; El Waar Bamaar – organ & keyboards; Halima Jakani – vocals, ardin (harp), & tbal (drum); Lamnaya – vocals & tbal; Mohamed – bass (on “Met-Ha”); Bel Kheir – vocals (on “Met-Ha”); Hamdan Bamaar – drums.

Group Doueh – ZaynaJumma, Sublime Frequencies – SF066, 2011.

Side A –
Zayna Jumma
Ishadlak Ya Khey
Zaya Koum

Side B –
Jagwar Doueh
Ana Lakweri
Wazan Doueh

Enjoy this strangely unique yet global blues for an injured planet,

1 comment:

  1. Guitar Music...
    Zayna Jumma