Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ecstatic Music Of The Jemaa El Fna - Sublime Frequencies

Spent yesterday evening listening to this recent acquisition, reading Paul Bowles' stories, and re-firing my memory of a trip from north to south Morocco I made in 1994.
These recordings are rough, fast and metallic, capturing the smouldering intensity of evening time there.
The Jemaa el fna is the central market square, and ancient meeting place in Marrakesh.
I remember arriving in the afternoon, getting a steaming tiled  room in a riad, with the main courtyard spilling forth the heady fragrance of jasmine. Everything, including me, was dripping from the heat of the day.

The Medina, where the Jemaa el fna is, is fortified by pink earthen walls, and long palmed boulevards run along its outer from the newer parts of the city. 
If you get a view down onto the square from a cafe above, as the evening draws in, you can watch and listen to the gathering activity, through a shroud of smoke rising from the cooking pots.
You get a view of the labyrinthine bazaar off the square and beyond, south to the coppering hues of the Atlas mountains.
Being in the square is immersive. Snake charmers, magicians, drummers, dancing boys, and the eye stinging miasma of goat and spices cooking. Don't know how it differs now, being on the low cost airline route, but these recordings certainly re-animate my fond memories.

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