Various Artists

Music of Islam, Vol. 6: Al-Maghrib Gnawa Music

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Part of the Celestial Harmonies' lengthy Music of Islam series, this album showcases the music of the Gnawa sect of Morocco. The instrumentation is relatively simple, with the sintir holding the lead, a tbil or two keeping a deep bass rhythm, and the never-ending clash of the qaraqeb clacking throughout every moment of the ceremony. As a mild rarity, this group of musicians has a separate lead vocalist from the sintir player, who usually holds the duties. The sintirist still helps out on vocals, but only following the same melodic lines now and then for added force. The style of music embraced by the Gnawa is an amazing sound in and of itself, but, with some quality musicians, it can come out far beyond its normal boundaries. Here, the levels of virtuosity are somewhat mid-level. The musicians are good, but perhaps not up to the level of some of the higher players in the genre (Brahim el Belkani, for example). As such, the sound is good, but there are better albums available elsewhere (such as the Moroccan Sufism installation of Rounder's Anthology of World Music series). As part of the extensive series here on Celestial Harmonies, this album fits in quite well. It's worth a listen, but don't spend a lot of time hunting for it.

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