This week, Natalia & Willie from Ireland’s greatest minimal freeform explorers Woven Skull have compiled a mix using tapes bought travelling through Morocco. Their knowledge about the contents of the tapes remains relatively limited – as Natalia puts it, “I like to get lost.” – but it does nothing to detract from this warbly set of chants, traditions, psychedelia, and grooves.
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Visit wovenskull.tumblr.com to find out more about the band, and check out Natalia’s notes below to find out more on how the mix was compiled…
1. Between us, Willie and I have about 4 phrases in Arabic: Salaam (Heya), Shukran (Thanks), Inshalla (God Willing) and Kowahalib (Coffee with Milk). In French, between us, there’s even less: Qu’est-ce que c’est (Eh, what?) and Sacre Bleu (Eh, what?).
2. I like very much to get lost. I like piles of treasures covered in dust. I like to dig.
3. Usually tapes are found in little music kiosks or else in stores that sell electronic goods.
4. Like a lot of others, we knew the music of Joujouka so we flew south along the globe to find more sounds.
5. Arabic and French are the two main languages spoken in Morocco. One can find themselves lost without these.
6. Usually, the tapes for sale are very covered in dust. I guess because most people buy cds now. Or else you just give a memory stick to the guy behind the counter and he’ll fill it with music for you.
7. The men in the tape-selling shops (it’s only ever been men) are 90 percent of the time just as excited to figure out how to communicate through the language barrier as I am.
8. Did I mention? I like to get lost.
9. Unlike my friend Eva who speaks all the languages, I don’t get to listen to the tapes in the shops as she does. But Eva’s got the right words and the sass to boot.
10. It takes months to go through the stack of tapes once they’re home. Some sounds are not up my alley at all at all. Those I give to friends. The others get played excitedly for all visitors to our house. The sounds can sometimes be challenging to our visitors. The shrill flutes and singing is unfamiliar and the rhythmic patterns are a world of their own.
11. One tape seller will point you in the direction of others in the town. On the way, getting at least a little lost is fairly inevitable. This allows plenty of excuses to drink kowahalib and watch the world go by.
12. I have never been offered tea in a shop or kiosk selling tapes. It’s not that kind of shopping experience.
13. The tapes, especially “My Favorite Tape” have gotten warbly over years of play. And because of their age too.
14. Dance parties are great but many great dance parties can make your tapes warbly.
15. What about when all the tapes get warbly and all the sounds get lost?
16. One of my favorite days ever, I spent hours in the back of a instrument shop getting shown the basics of the gimbri by a gent named Hamid. Once me and Hamid had tried a few standard songs together, we decided to just have a jam. Trying to keep the rhythms was making both lobes of my brain work overtime. The longer we played together, the freer our interpretations got. He confessed to me that he loved the blues. Great, I said, let’s jam out some simple lines together. “I couldn’t do that,” said Hamid solemly, “the rhythms are much too complicated.” On this day, we drank a lot of tea.
17. Tape sellers have pulled stacks out from deep behind the counter/from out of long forgetten about boxes/down from overhead storage spaces. And then, it’s mainly a guessing game based solely on the look of the covers. A photo of a lady in her 60s playing what looks like a home made banjo? Bring it on! A photo of a young fella in a silk waistcoat who looks like he might play regional synth pop and sing through a vocoder at kids birthday parties? Why the heck not!
18. It’s good for your brain lobes to take on challenging sounds. It’s good to share this music. Because unlike me, it probably doesn’t like to get lost.
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The Playlist is a visual one. Here it is: