Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects

Shabeesation

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The liner notes aren't completely clear as to the correct Arabic term for this music: is it "rai" (a style of pop music indigenous to Algeria rather than Morocco, which is this group's homeland), "shaabee" (which simply means "popular music"), or "harira" (which seems to mean something like "stew")? Whatever this intricate, funky North African concoction is called, it kicks some serious booty. The band's name is a bit more straightforward. Aisha Kandisha is the name of an especially malevolent female genie, and the "jarring effects" of her attacks are still greatly feared in modern Morocco; to name one's band after this she-devil is, according to the album's notes, an act of brash tastelessness similar to that of an American band calling itself the Dead Kennedys. My knowledge of Moroccan supernaturalism is limited at best, but I know what I like, and this album's got plenty of it: deep, bone-shaking grooves, lutes, weird samples, and eerie, exotic melodies spun through with lyrics in a language most won't be able to begin to understand. What's not to love? Bandleader Pat Jabbar El Shaheed teamed up with Bill Laswell to bring some extra weight to the group's sound, and the combination of Cheb Ahmed's reedy voice, a huge array of samples, and Laswell's shuddering, rumbling bass is enough to make even the most jaded Westerner bop 'til he drops. You'll hear echoes of Western funk, dub, ska, and house music in the mix here, but the main ingredient is the dust and smoke of the Moroccan "suq" (marketplace), where kids swap rai cassettes and absorb the influences of a hundred different cultures all at once. Highly recommended.

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