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Deep, spiritual and truly amazing music from Mahleem (Moroccan for master / leader (of Gnawa)) Mahmoud Gania, originally released in the late 90’s on cassette, and now reissued via the excellent Hive Mind Records, on LP in a beautiful sleeve, pressed on hiqh quality wax and served with liner notes for background info.

Mahleem Mahmoud Gania is a special musician, and his mastery of Gnawa ritual music is much cherished in North Africa, and across the world – you may remember that album he recorded with Pharao Sanders, which we also stocked here, for example.
There’s certainly a crossover with Jazz, in terms of the depth and intricacy in musicality, the skilled, masterful use of an instrument, and also the way a musician will often take leadership of the composition, or direction in the improvisation (in this case, pretty much the literal translation of ‘Mahleem’).

Aicha reaches deep states of trance, at times tranquil and at times almost frenetic, loose and totally human, but always composed, and focused on a kind of central vibration that runs through each song like a heartbeat, and never stops pulsing.

We’d highly recommend to anyone to let themselves sink into the sound of these recordings, and let them elevate your state – it might sound cheesy, but there really is a magic to this music – after all, its prime intention is to heal our spirits, and as the label succinctly put it below, now is a good time, to make time for this kind of musical healing:

“We are celebrating our tenth release by bringing the label full circle, right back where we started from.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve once again worked with the Gania family of Essaouira to bring you another reissue of the music of the undisputed King of Gnawa music, the late Maalem Mahmoud Gania. It feels like the perfect time to release this spiritual music, specifically played to heal and to cure us of our ills, as the world is in the grip of a viral pandemic and powerful forces seem to be polarising people all around the globe. We hope that Aicha will enable you to carve out some healing space in amongst the chaos of the world.

Aicha was previously released on cassette in Morocco only in the late 1990’s. Maalem Mahmoud Gania was a particularly prolific artist recording for many labels in Morocco and many details about the recording of this particular album or the people involved are destined to remain a mystery. However, we do know the album was recorded in the Gania’s home town of Essaouira with only a small and intimate group of supporting musicians. The resulting album, after the dizzying intensity of the opening song, offers more relaxed, laid back interpretations of the Gnawa ritual repertoire, and a deeper, more gentle sound than our previous Gania release, Colours of the Night. The album shines a light on Mahmoud’s virtuoso guimbri playing and mastery of Gnawa songcraft, and is a standout amongst his many cassette releases.”

Wow music.

Extensive sleeve notes written by Tim Abdellah Fuson, Berkeley scholar and curator of the excellent Moroccan Tape Stash blog.

1. La Ilha Illa Allah 08:58
2. Lalla Aicha 07:03
3. Assamaoui 07:10
4. Al Boudali 08:04
5. Bangara Bangara 06:22
6. El Bahraoui 08:04

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