As soon as I see “banjo music from Morocco,” I’m paying attention. Hassan Wargui hails from Issefan, a rural community in the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Southern Morocco and his banjo-led compositions are eye-opening. Tiddukla, newly reissued by Hive Mind, was originally recorded in 2015 and released through YouTube due to the lack of any kind of music infrastructure in Morocco. Wargui infuses his Amazigh (Berber) heritage and influence into a new take on something classic.
Potent, stripped back, and utterly transfixing, the songs on Tiddukla resonate on an instinctual level. An unfamiliarity flows through Wargui’s songs with chords and scales I don’t recognize, but the spirit beneath is universal. Wargui’s music is lively, echoing the power of expression through sound. “Isawl Omarg – ⵉⵙⴰⵡⵍ ⵓⵎⴰⵔⴳ – Music Speaks” connects on a visceral level, the way music can bring people together and work as a force of forward progression flowing outward in the polyrhythmic grooves and hypnotic banjo patterns.
Getting into the thick of “Azerf – ⴰⵣⵔⴼ – Rights,” a joyous mood takes hold. It sounds like a fight song, his words twisting into catchy earworms long remembered after the piece ends. It’s this timelessness of Wargui’s music that transcends across language and cultural barriers, connecting worlds with pure, beautiful songcraft. Closing the album, the title track stretches out into the brown and orange horizon, dancing forward as the sun sets and another celebration begins. Tiddukla is a rare gem.
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