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Maalem Mahmoud Gania and the healing sounds of the Gnawa

December 30, 2017


Jonathan More of the mighty Coldcut played Sidi Sma Ya Boulandi as the opening track on his best music of 2017 show (which features loads of great sounds and you can listen to here: 

The album’s also received accolades in the end of year round ups from Musica Macondo , The Attic, The Wire, Megalo Taxidi Radio ShowIzvorišta amongst others, all of which have taken us by surprise. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who’s taken some time to listen to the music, and to share and spread the word. 

We never anticipated this release to receive the attention it has, and I’ve wondered what it is about the album that appears to have struck a chord, now of all times. 

2017 has been a difficult and at times frightening year globally, and humanity’s political, economic and ecological situation has often felt pretty untenable. But this is where the Gnawa step in. In Moroccan society the Gnawa occupy a liminal space on the margins of mainstream culture. Their musical and spiritual practice, their trance rituals and the evocation of non-human entities, operates on the very fringes of Islamic belief. However, for many in Morocco, the Gnawa are there to help heal those who are suffering when all else has failed. During the course of their ceremonies (the derdeba) the Gnawa summon spiritual entities and invite us to make our peace with them in an effort to heal the disharmony that has caused our ailments.

Maybe it isn’t so strange that this ancient musical tradition is now finding a wider audience outside of Morocco.

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