The Gnoua Brotherhood of Marrakesh / The Master Musicians of Joujouka

Moroccan Trance Music, Vol. 2: Sufi

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Moroccan Trance Music II presents two of Morocco's finest traditional ensembles, the Gnoua Brotherhood of Marrakesh and the Master Musicians of Joujouka, in live outdoor performances. The recordings are excellent, capturing not only the musicians, but the ambience of the crowd and ceremony as well. In Morocco, ceremonial music is not simply the soundtrack to a ceremony; it's an important, vital part of the community and a means to experience other realities, and has been for literally hundreds of years. You can almost hear the crowd being brought into the music and transported. The Gnoua Brotherhood tracks are led by the gimbri, a three-stringed bass lute accompanied by light percussion, handclapping, and call-and-response vocals. By contrast, only one of the tracks by the Master Musicians of Joujouka has vocals, and the main instrument is the ney, which has a far gentler tone than the double-reeded ghaita that they are more closely associated with. The album is very well sequenced: the Gnoua Brotherhood tracks are quite similar, with changes to the tempo being the most obvious difference. These tracks segue nicely into the first Master Musicians cut, which retains the percussion, vocals, and handclapping, but switches the gimbri for ney. The next track drops the vocals, leaving just ney and percussion, and their final track is simply unaccompanied neys. It's the perfect way to close the album: a gentle, mellow conclusion to a remarkable, nearly hypnotic journey. They don't call it trance music for nothing.

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