Fragmented Frequencies July 2014

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When Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka was released in 1968, the Rolling Stones guitarist had been dead a year. The recording of the raita (Moroccan pipe) and percussion music is remarkable, centuries old, with folklore suggesting that this healing music dates back to the 15th century. Many of the Beats had been visiting the village in the riff mountains in Morocco from the 50’s – Burroughs described them as a “4,000 year old rock band,” and subsequently Ornette Coleman recorded the masters for his 1975 album Dancing in Your Head. In recent years a split has developed and there are now two groups. Bachir El Attar’s helmed “jajouka” group have collaborated with Bill Laswell and Talvin Singh, whilst the Ahmed El Attar helmed “joujouka” who have worked with Jane’s Addiction hold an annual festival in joujouka in June. Which is where I found myself a few weeks ago, visiting the remote village, staying with Mohammed El Attar and his family, eating communally with the musicians and about 40 other pilgrims from the UK, Japan, Italy and Australia, but most of all slowing down and experiencing some of the most remarkable ancient trance music over the course of three days. They played when they felt like it; often impromptu jams fueled by kif, with flutes, chanting and percussion, but each night they’d bring out the raita and enact their fertility festival with Boujeloud, a mischievous dancer in goatskins whacking everyone – mostly the band with branches. You need to experience this remarkable festival.

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