Hassan Hakmoun and Zahar


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From the Hendrix-in-a-fez riff of "Bania" to the fuzz-box nirvana of "Challaban," Trance asserts psychedelic sovereignty over Moroccan sensibilities that hippie hash-heads once claimed as their own music base. Twenty-five years ago, Hakmoun's high-amplification drone would have blown Cream out of the stadium, but its thrills-per-wattage ratio today depends on whether or not you're willing to let bygone eras be bygones -- or how ardent you are about wanting to hear Gnawa music done boggle style on two cuts. One experiment that reaps great dividends is an a cappella duet between Hakmoun and Carole Rowley on "The Sun is Gone," where the two baptize one another in mutually unreachable longing until Hakmoun finally falls below the horizon, his amazing voice narrowed to a rhaita-like rasp -- the one great idea on this disc that isn't clogged with electronics.

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