Music Reviews

cover
Artist: Maleem Mahmoud Ghania with Pharoah Sanders
Title: The Trance Of Seven Colors
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Zehra
This is a re-release of an album first put out on 1994 on Bill Laswell’s Axiom label, and never previously available on vinyl. It’s described as Gnawa trance, heavily percussion led and deliberately repetitive, music tightly tailored to either transcendence or dancing or both.

Laswell went to Morocco and recorded himself collaborating with large family ensembles of musicians, with Laswell contributing his famous tenor saxophone elements. From back in the days when world music still involved adventure and discovery and wasn’t all just immediately available with a Spotify search, there’s an energy in exploration across the nine tracks that has, so far, not dated at all.

The captivating rolling bassline and mantras of opening track of “La Allah Daymin Moulenah” quickly win you over, setting a groove that genuinely has the feel-good funk. This positive vibe also infuses the call-and-response-based “Salat Anbi”, or final track “Mahraba” which ends the release with a smile. In the meantime, other tracks offer up a variety of alternative rhythms and tones, from the more tribal gradual speed-up of “Hamdouchi” with its intimidatingly angry conclusion, to the deep jazz dive and more complex time signatures of longest track “Boulandi Samawi”.

Laswell’s sax work is notably modest at times- this isn’t a Bill Laswell solo album in disguise, not in the least. On tracks like “Bala Moussaka” he doesn’t feel the need to join in at all, and rightly so. However when he does contribute, it’s done in an admirably sympathetic and complimentary way that really works. “Peace In Essaouira” is an exception that proves the rule.

Despite being recorded over twenty years ago on mobile recording equipment, the sound quality is excellent, and almost without exception sounds as though it could have been recorded in an expensive Real World-style studio. Everything sounds close, but not claustrophobic, and it’s nicely balanced in that way.

It’s a welcome re-issue of a really strong album that still sounds fresh twenty-five years on, a must-check-out item for lovers of organic rhythmic trance sounds.



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