Barraka El Farnatshi Prod.,
AMIRA SAQATI -
« Destination Halal »
After over eleven years of collaborations with diverse Barraka artists (such as Aisha Kandishas Jarring Effects, Ahlam, Azzddine.) and after over 10'000 sold copies of their previous albums «Agdal Reptiles On Majoun» 1995 and «Al Bharr» 1998, Youssef El Mejjad and Pat Jabbar finally release their third album «Destination Halal» under the name of Amira Saqati (Moroccan dialect for a piece of something). Far from any «sex & drugs & rocknroll» - party lifestyle attitude, the recordings were made in Marrakech during the spiritual and holy period of Ramadan 2004, under as «Halal» as possible conditions.
Even if music in general became a secondary thing in their lifes, it still remains an important and strong way of expression, to share ideas and convictions. The main message of this album, tries to bring in question the values of our actual way of life. Do we need all these permanent and transitory distractions to get satisfied ? May our passions give us the solution of being happy ? Does materialism and possession save our souls ? What is the definition of freedom ? Did we not get any signs or are we just afraid of facing the hidden truth . ?
The aim of Amira Saqati is not to convince or change anyone, but just to give some possible indications and suggestions.
The music is a fusion of Moroccan Melhoun elements, Shabi, Raï, Gnawa and Oriental styles, melted with Dub, Lounge, Trip Hop and Electronica influences. «Marrakech X-Press» is a strong Pop track about ruthlessness and betrayal. Deep Bendir beats with a Lotare melody meet heavy Rock riffs and do remind us of Nass El Ghiwane (The Moroccan Rolling Stones from the 70s). The song «Zouak», which talks about how easily people go astray, far from their religion and faith, has a Ragga groove with typical Shabi-violin and vocal parts. « Psy Habibi» even comes in a Progressive Trance, full on the floor, hypnotic way. «The cobra Dance» is an abstract, experimental soundscape with lots of Ghita-flutes, taking you for a ride direct to the Djema El Fna, the central place in Marrakech. «Imane» builds up with a Tribal beat and Flamenco guitars, to end in a second part of heavy distortions and rockish riffs. «Hel Aeynik», what ? did you say «Blue Monday» or New Order ?, wasnt our intention.lol.
Multi-instrumentalist Yousef El Mejjad did the main vocals on nearly every track, played the Oud, Lotare, Violins, Gembri, Keyboards as the traditional Arabic percussion instruments like Bendir, Tarija, Tbel and Darbuka. Many guest appearances of diverse friends, helped « Destination Halal» to become a contrasting and multicoloured work. Maybe the most spectacular happnening was, when 18 years old Sana asked the band during a show in Marrakech to play an Oum Keltoum song, so that she could sing over it. Her performance was incredible. She got invited with her friend Fatima-Ezzohra to sing on three tracks. A few month later she participated in a music contest on Moroccan TV channel 2M and succeeded to be under the first five. The French Rap-Duo Illicite & Opium from St.Louis (both immigrants, one from Gambia, the other from Morocco), let their anger flow over the situation in Palestine in track « Falestine». Casus from Turkish Hip Hop crew Makale, gives his opinion in Turkish on opening track «Madinti». MY Hassan, memeber of Aisha Kandishas Jarring Effects, played the Ney and did some background vocals on tracks «Sabra Dima» and « Galbi Tabe». Jamal Farraki, a young music conservatory teacher from Marrakech, played acoustic guitars on « Sans tes Mots» and «Imane».
Downloads : iTunes
Amira Saqati previous releases:
Cheb Youssef, the "very enfant terrible" of Aisha Kandishas Jarring Effects and Pat Jabbar, are returning with a second inter-oceanic and unpredictable Amïra Saqati album "al bharr" (= the sea); and are melting Moroccan Raï-, Gnawa-, Berber- and Egyptian Jeel rootsbasics with diverse occidental ways of indefinable - and inbetween - dance / ambient expressions. Even if not all tracks are directly invocating the big waters, this album should be a dedication to the sea and its infinite and mysterious forces.
While the still very dadaistic romanticism, as heard on the previous "Agdal Reptiles on Majoun" debut album, is omnipresent, a certain "pulsating" watery conceptual idea, guides us all along the album. Sometimes, there is a sort of deconstruction attitude towards the "ordinary track writing process", which becomes a starting point to rebuild the song in an another more rational dimension. Sometimes there is a free style improvised delirium, as for instance on tracks 5,12 or 14.
Its been a very long time, that a guest appearance of Benjamin Zephaniah was planned on a Barraka album. Originally it should have happened with "Nass El Hall", a Gnawa band from Marrakesh, but given that this release is bound to happen next millennium, we thought of doing it now; with an Amïra - Gnawa song. The legendary British - Jamaican Dub poet, reflects very distinctively the Arabic lyrics and socio-political contents on "Mat Demir", the "Modern Slave Song".
As you may have guessed, laments, Raï and love are doing the rest. More comments should not be necessarily needed this time
So if you are water-resistant, dont be scared of going down under for a dive.
"Agdal Reptiles on Majoun"
AMïRA SAQATI ( Amïra = a piece of , Saqati = a "thing", non-definite meaning, slang expression, mostly used as a substitute for rude or offending words = A piece of a thing . Now guess what!!! ) is a side project band of 4 Aisha Kandishas Jarring Effects members, where Maghrebian roots are a general starting point, from where the sound structures are getting developed in different crossover directions such as Shabee (Track 1), Melhoune (Track 2), Gnawa (Tracks 3,6,11), Trance Raï (Tracks 4,7,8,10), Raï "sentimental" in memory of Cheb Hasni (Tracks 5,9), or the Saqati Agdal style, feat. bad Hooligans from the Wydad Casablanca/Raja vs. the Kaoukab Marrakech and some spaced out Agdal Reptiles on Majoun .
23 year old Cheb Youssef (Lead Vocals,Synth.,Violin,Perc. ), who became in 1994 the new Aisha Kandishas Jarring Effects keyboarder and background singer to replace Cheb Qchatars guitar for the live shows, began already as a 12 year old child playing the violin in different Shabee and Melhoune bands at weddings, feasts and Ramadan nights. Learning the mandolin, guitar, accordeon and piano at the conservatory of Marrakech, hes now mainly busy with keyboards and sequencers, playing in Raï clubs as a solo artist. This is his very first recording for the North african and Western market, a second album is already in preparation and should be released in April 1996. His first appearance on an AKJE album is planned for 1996 and will certainly bring a new dimension to the whole concept.
Jamal M Said ( Bass,Voc.,Perc.and Drums ) is the future drummer of AKJE and will be introduced for the 96 recordings and touring . Mohamed Kbirr ( Viol.,Flute, Mandol.), is already known for his work with AKJE on "El Buya" and "Shabeesation", as for his intense live presence during the shows . Pat Jabbar ( Synth.,Progr.,Production and Mixing ) .
Agdal Reptiles on Majoun , is the story of a snake leaving its body to get reincarnated with its soul and habits into a Jedba - ( Trance ) musician, leading him to an unknown consciousness of aural sensations and got inspired by " Allal " from Paul Bowles, where a Majoun eater has a strange relationship with a snake and achieves his own reincarnation into the reptiles body and is finally getting killed by the people of his village .
Agdal normally means garden, but because of a famous psychiatric hospital in Marrakech called Agdal, it became another way for the youth to say: crazy or freaked out . Majoun is a dark sticky paste made out of cannabis butter, honey, nuts and spices, with a guaranteed hallucinating side-effect. There might be in both stories or experiences a parallel line of going to the limit of a state of mind with transmutations. Either by becoming the animal or by coming from the animal into the person, captured by Majoun. ( Maybe you will remember "El Buya " with The Chameleon / Dog experience ). The music, is in one way the antithesis between a certain image of the transformed subject into a snake and the Majoun Brainfood eaten by the snake to become a human being on Amira Saqati . seen ??? The synthesis of a romantic Love/Death balance and a political Raï/Algeria/Death related understanding is up to your ability of following Moroccan Dadaism.
CH: iTunes; D: Broken Silence; F: 121 DIgital Media; Benelux: Bang; I: Materiali Sonori;
UK: Shellshock, Sterns; E + P: Galileo; GR: Olon; JP: Bomba
A: Lotus; USA: Sterns; Canada: Bros
Downloads : iTunes
Check out AMIRA SAQATI track in INCEPTION!!!
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Check out AMIRA SAQATI tracks in John Cusack's new Antiwar comedy film "WAR INC.", feat. Hilary Duff, Ben Kingsley etc. soon in Theaters and on DVD !
NEW TRACKS AND REMIXES BY:
KASBAH ROCKERS, AMIRA SAQATI, MAGHREBIKA, AZZDDINE, DAR BEIDA 04, BAMOUN KINGZ & THE SIDI SLIMANE POSSE
Feat.: BILL LASWELL, DR DAS, TRANSGLOBAL UNDERGROUND, RECYCLER, MAKALE, BOMBAX & PAT JABBAR