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Guedra Guedra Son of Sun cover artwork.

11 Moroccan Electronic Songs You Should Listen To

We get a brief history of Moroccan electronic music from producer Guedra Guedra.

Guedra Guedra is a DJ, producer and sound researcher from Casablanca, Morocco. His highly-energetic debut EP, Son of Sun, (out now via On The Corner records) presents a genre-defying take on dance music, utilizing psychedelic sounds and bass-heavy influences from across the world and from his home of Morocco. Below, in his own words, Guedra Guedra guides us through a brief history of Moroccan electronic sounds through 11 songs.


Abdou El Omari "Rajaat Laayoun" (1976)

Tafraout born Abdou El Omari was a musician, composer, keyboardist and producer. He belongs to a generation of musicians who revolutionized Moroccan music bringing it to wider horizons without altering the soul. He was then considered as a pioneer of Moroccan psychedelia. "Rajaat Laayoun" was extracted from the album Nuit's d'Eté, Abdou's first solo record. It was reissued by the Belgian record label Radio Martiko as well as two other unreleased albums, which were recorded somewhere between 1976 and 1980 in the Boussiphone studios in Casablanca.

Shams Dinn "Hedi Bled Noum" (1987)

For their first ever reissue, Smiling C chose to shed a light on the Moroccan rapper Shams Dinn, '80s hip‑hop and modern arab music pioneer. The label released an energetic compilation of his best songs, a blend of hip-hop, raï and funk, summing up his entire career, including the hit "Hedi Bled Noum."

Bouchnak "Salou Al Hadi" (version Synthwave) (1988)

Hamid, Omar, Mohamed and Reda, the Bouchnak brothers or Rai Knights, were raised in a family of artists from Oujda. Their first song "Jennouni" was recorded in 1983 and allowed them to win the first prize in the "Adoua El Madina" contest. They rapidly gained success on the Raï and Boogie grounds and started integrating "Malhoun" music and even poetry. Their music wasn't only celebrated by the Arab World but also in Europe, especially in the Netherlands where they have many fans.

Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects feat Bill Laswell "Fin Roh" (1993)

Before landing in Bill Laswell's studio in 1993, Shabeestation was first recorded by the seven-person

lAisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects through several sessions in 1991 and 1992, in Casablanca. A whole process to present nine tracks filled with electric guitars, synthesizers but also kamenja, guembri and aouuda. On "Fin Roh," traditional Moroccan music cuts into the thumping beat of a sort of light techno/funk hybrid and Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets adds his booming vocals to give a psychedelic perspective.

Momo "Digital Garab" (2001)

Momo, "Music of Moroccan Origin," is a group that translated the clash culture between their North African origins and their British life into the futuristic 'DaR music' Digital and Roots. It's a blend between dance sounds (house, garage, techno and breakbeat) and traditional Moroccan music, reflecting the multi-identity of Momo's band: Lahcen Lahbib (vocals, percussion), Farid Nania (lotar, vocals and percussion) and Tahar Idrissi (sintir, vocals and percussion).

Sapho "Laouah" (1998)

Before releasing Digital Sheikha, French-Moroccan Sapho recorded a first album with an authentic group of Sheikhates, thanks to the precious support of Barrraka Farnatshi's head, Pat Jabbar. Her musical adventure led her to Basel, where she recorded a series of techno and house remixes, then to New York, where "Digital Sheikha" was born.Bill Laswell's produced four tracks of this daring "ethno dance" album.

Argan "Umlil (Ajdig)" (1996)

Agan's first release was a tape, for the local market. Their second work, Berberism, led them to a whole new level, guided by Barraka El Farnatshi. Not only did the album reveal members of the band like banjo player Hassan Arouhal or bassis Abdelhadi and violnist Mohamed Kbirr, who are also members of Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects, it also featured many other names: Omar from Bouchenak Brothers, Pat Jabbar Fido K and Bombax.

Naab "Tamghra Nouchen" (2002)

Naab is another gem of the Moroccan diaspora who roamed through fusions of electro, drum & bass, funk, jungle, breakbeat, and traditional raw sounds from his native land. Naab's 2002 album, Salam Haleikoum, featured the Algerian singer Sofiane Saïdi, and the tabla player Jérôme Kérihuel and was the first piece of an announced trilogy.

U-Cef Feat. Dar Gnawa & Johnny Biz "Hijra" (1999)

Moulay Youssef Adel aka U-cef, a great of Moroccan Drum & Bass, was boosted by the Moroccan label Appartment 22, also linked to MoMo. On "Halalium," Maghrebian tones are echoed in different acoustic instruments used by U-Cef. His Gnawa orientation is very present in " Hijra," which featured Johnny Biz and Dar Gnawa rap, Sintir bass lines and desert guitars.

Phil Von & the Gnawa musicians of Fès "Hicham Bilali" (1999)

Phil Von shares a refined, emotional and inter-cultural piece of music. "L'autre nuit" sounds, from many points of view, like a picture of the Maghreb. The North-African influence is present in Phil Von's different projects (Von Magnet, Atlas Project) but it carries a special tint with Gnawa musicians of Fès. Their healing sounds drive the music to a trancelike, ritualistic dimension, especially in "Hicham Bilali." The album also features "Fés Mejdoub" which is shaped by voices and street noises samples, recreating an impression from daily life in the streets and markets of Morocco.

Gnawa Impulse "Lahillah Allah" (2001)

In September 1998 the traditional moroccan gnawa musicians Abdenbi Binizi, Samir Zgarhi and Majid Karadi met Jan-Claudius Rase and David Beck, both multi-instrumentalists of German origins. Their trip to Marrakech inspired the Living Remixes concept, a mix traditional Gnawa recordings and Western club compositions. "Lahillah allah" is one of its many dimensions, where ritualistic Gnawa bass and percussions resonate with raw synthetic drums.


Interview
Photo: Mariela Alvarez.

Interview: ÌFÉ Blends Music & Religion to Honor Those Who Have Died During the Pandemic

Producer and percussionist Otura Mun talks about his latest EP, The Living Dead, and how he traces the influences of West Africa in his new work.

There are bands that open up a spiritual world through their music. ÌFÉ is one example. An electro-futurist band that fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms and Jamaican dancehall with Yoruba mystical voices. With the success of their 2017 debut album "IIII+IIII" (pronounced Eji-Ogbe), ÌFÉ has reached an audience that is looking for Caribbean and contemporary sounds.

The Puerto Rican-based band just released a new EP, The Living Dead- Ashé Bogbo Egun, that aims to heal and honor those who have died during this pandemic. Otura Mun, the band leader, is an African-American producer and percussionist, who began a personal journey about a decade ago, when he landed in San Juan, and decided to move there. He learned Spanish, dug deep into his African ancestry and started to practice the Yoruba-Caribbean religion of Santería.

ÌFÉ, which means "love and expansion" in Yoruba, ties two worlds, music and religion, artistically. This new EP modernized prayer songs to hopefully make them more accessible to a younger generation. OkayAfrica spoke with Otura Mun on his latest work.

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