The Master Musicians of Jajouka

The Master Musicians of Jajouka Featuring Bachir Attar

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Talvin Singh was reportedly pleased and amazed to win the Technics Mercury Prize in the U.K. in 1999, a highly commendable trade achievement, for his eclectic CD OK. His instant reaction to receiving the award was to disappear off the European club and concert circuit to jam for months with the famed Master Musicians of Jajouka, heroes of the Rif mountains in a less than easily accessible region of Morocco. Beat author William Burroughs once described the Master Musicians as "the World's Only 4,000-year-old band," and Brian Jones recorded a tremendous album with them in 1969 shortly before he died. The outfit of long, strange, and wonderful renown achieves something heretofore unexplored in the company of Singh. Here the guest introduces a hallucinogenic, soulfully high-tech texture to the primordial rhythms and riffs of the masters, creating one of those rare syntheses of past and present, a gorgeous (of loosely hooked) carpet of colors and shapes. There is a whiff of the controlled jam here, not as fresh or far from the studio as one might expect from the high Rif, but this may be due to the production hand of Singh himself in the elaborate remix. A heartfelt and utterly noncommercial collaboration, probably meaning that winning the Mercury doesn't mean that everything, stylistically, must be cast in stone.

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