Boomkat Product Review:
One year on from that ace Yemeni expedition, 'Qat, Coffee & Qambus' on Parlortone, Dust To Digital follow the breeze to Morocco between the '50s and '60s, an age when its independent labels were flourishing after 44 years of French occupation and the real voice, the poetry, or "Kassidat" which lends this compilation its title, began to be properly documented on the new and relatively inexpensive 45 format. Essentially this music is a folk or street equivalent to rap or hip hop nowadays, driven by strong rhythms and repetitive hooks for the poet's typical call-and-response choruses and lyrics concerning contemporary local issues, politics and gossip. The case in point is our big highlight, Abdellah el Magana's 'Kassidat el Hakka' (The Poem Of The Truth); driven by the ruggedest, hypnotic rhythm of the Bendir drum and the reedy wheeze of twin qasba pipes, Abdellah sings, or even raps, with a double timed flow stepping over the stop/start Raï beat with effortless grace while at once deploring the morals of the young generation at the time with "salcious depictions of gamblers, drunks and "modern" girls". Ironically enough, it's the kind of groove which, with a bit of extra oomph and a sawtooth synth would get kids gyrating like it ain't no thang nowadays, but was more likely to be played to solemn, red-eyed fellas in a hash den back then. And while that's easily worth the price alone, there are another five excellent pieces, taking in the entrancing gunbri licks of Jmimi, Lekbir & Fatma Anounya's Gnawa stepper 'Makh-Makh' (Why Why), and the mysterious Cheikh Mohammed Riffi's unmissable 'Sidi M'Bark'. Kudos to compiler David Murray. This is class.