9 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Led by the Attar family, the The Master Musicians of Jajouka have captured the imagination of countless musicians and fans over the years, ranging from Brian Jones (who released an album of their music) to William S. Burroughs (who called them a “4,000-year-old rock band”). Hailing from the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco—and existing in one form or another for a thousand years—the mythical group uses atonal horns and chattering drums that sound as old as the hills. They're so primordial that you could imagine this as the soundtrack for the start of life on Earth. It also makes fine fodder for collaborations and remixes. Headed up by producer Billy Martin, the lineup here includes many Western “Master Musicians,” and the resulting patchwork sounds both modern and ancient, haunting and comforting, Moroccan and global. Each track has its own strengths, but the groovy opener “Hand of Fatima,” the dubby “Ghaita Blues,” and the ominous “Djebala Hills” have a particular momentum and seamlessness to them. Money raised by this will go toward supporting The Jajouka Foundation, which was set up to look after aged band members in need of medical attention and generally support this crucial but endangered musical tradition.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Led by the Attar family, the The Master Musicians of Jajouka have captured the imagination of countless musicians and fans over the years, ranging from Brian Jones (who released an album of their music) to William S. Burroughs (who called them a “4,000-year-old rock band”). Hailing from the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco—and existing in one form or another for a thousand years—the mythical group uses atonal horns and chattering drums that sound as old as the hills. They're so primordial that you could imagine this as the soundtrack for the start of life on Earth. It also makes fine fodder for collaborations and remixes. Headed up by producer Billy Martin, the lineup here includes many Western “Master Musicians,” and the resulting patchwork sounds both modern and ancient, haunting and comforting, Moroccan and global. Each track has its own strengths, but the groovy opener “Hand of Fatima,” the dubby “Ghaita Blues,” and the ominous “Djebala Hills” have a particular momentum and seamlessness to them. Money raised by this will go toward supporting The Jajouka Foundation, which was set up to look after aged band members in need of medical attention and generally support this crucial but endangered musical tradition.

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Customer Reviews

Super Laidback

1_Late_4_Work,

It's like nature exploded into my ears and left me deaf.

About The Master Musicians of Jajouka

The Master Musicians of Jajouka were introduced to much of the Western world in 1969 when they released an album produced by the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones a month before his drowning death (Brian Jones Presents: The Master Musicians of Jajouka). The band, comprised of sons of sons of musicians, subsequently recorded several unforgettable albums on their own and have been featured on albums by Ornette Coleman, the Rolling Stones, Randy Weston, Maceo Parker, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. An album released by the group in 1992, Apocalypse Across the Sky, was produced by Bill Laswell.

Possessing a unique sound and proclaimed "one of the most musically inspiring groups in the world" by Mick Jagger, the group perform a hypnotic style of music that the African Music Encyclopedia described as "a strange (at least to Western ears) combination of high-pitched, nasal, buzzing sounds (imagine a swarm of bees) with surging waves of rhythm which can induce an ecstatic trance state." An all-male group, the Master Musicians of Jajouka have been performing their unique, drone-heavy music for several thousand years, featuring 15 rhaita (a double-reed, oboe-like instrument) players and five drummers. Only a son of a master musician can become a master musician, and members of the group, who speak Arabic, adopt the surname "Attar" (which translates as "the perfume maker").

The band continues to reside in Jajouka, a small village in the foothills of the Rif Mountains. Unknown to the Western world for most of their history, the Master Musicians of Jajouka were "discovered" in the '50s by beat novelist William Burroughs and Paul Bowles, who recorded the band for the Library of Congress. Brian Jones was introduced to the group by painter, writer, and metaphysician Brion Gysin. In the early '90s, the Master Musicians of Jajouka were led by Bachir Attar, whose father had led the group in the late '60s. The Master Musicians of Jajouka's first tour of the United States in 1997 included a reenactment of the week-long lunar feast of Aid El Kabir. In 1999, the group was visited by Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo. By the end of the '90s, the electronica world had embraced the group as well; Talvin Singh produced their 2000 album The Master Musicians of Jajouka Featuring Bachir Attar. ~ Craig Harris

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