Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Today, 29 July 2009, is the 41st Anniversary of Brian Jones recording the Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka (Rolling Stones Records 1971) by Master Musicians of Joujouka.
Brought to Joujouka by Mohamed Hamri the mentor of the Master Musicians and artist Brion Gysin, Brian along with a small group of friends and George Chkiantz, a recording engineer arrived in Joujouka to record the Master Musicians of Joujouka ritual music.
Our thoughts today are with the families and friends of all the great musicians no longer with us who recorded that day.
Last year Master Musicians of Joujouka organised a special festival to commemorate the 40th Anniversary. The performances were all recorded and preparations for releasing this music are well advanced.
Slide show of Master Musicians of Joujouka Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 29-10 July
Slideshow of Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival 5-7 June, 2009.
The oldest musician in Joujouka who recorded with Brian Jones is Mallim Ali Abdeslam Attar.
Mallim Ali Abdelsalm Attar reviews the press from Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival, at the MMOF Festival 5-7 June 2009.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
A short vignette capturing the unveiling of the plaque at the legendary Beat Hotel by Jean-Jacques Lebel.
With Eddie Woods - Oliver Harris - Jean Jacques Lebel - Lee Harris - River Styx
The Beat Hotel was a small, run-down hotel of 42 rooms at 9 Rue Gît-le-Cœur in the Latin Quarter of Paris, notable chiefly as a residence for members of the Beat poetry movement of the mid-20th century
Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky first stayed there in 1957 and were soon joined by William Burroughs, Derek Raymond, Harold Norse and Gregory Corso, as well as Sinclair Beiles. It was here that Burroughs completed the text of Naked Lunch  and began his lifelong collaboration with Brion Gysin. It was also where Ian Sommerville became Burroughs' 'systems advisor' and lover. Gysin introduced Burroughs to the Cut-up technique and with Sommerville they experimented with a 'dream machine' and audio tape cut-ups. Here Norse wrote a novel, Beat Hotel, using cut-up techniques . Ginsberg wrote a part of his moving and mature poem Kaddish at the hotel and Corso wrote the mushroom cloud-shaped poem Bomb.
A big thank you to Lee Harris and River Styx
Full version to be screened at the Portobello Film Festival 2009 http://www.portobellofilmfestival.com
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
For full size image click here
The book in a box, Man from Nowhere Storming the citadels of Enlightenment with William Burroughs and Brion Gysin was published with 16 postcards of work by Gysin and Burroughs and photographs with personal tributes to Brion Gysin by Bill Laswell, William Burroughs, John Giorno, Ira Cohen, Terry Wilson, Keith Haring, Stanley Booth, Mohamed Hamri, Paul Bowles and more was published to coincide with the event.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
the first two tracks in the music player are two rough mixes of sections from the Boujeloud rites held last year in the village to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Brian Jones's visit to Joujouka/Jajouka to record Brian Jones present the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka (Rolling Sones Records 1971).
The festival was a chance for musicians and their families as well as relatives of old masters now deceased to celebrate the rich history of Joujouka in music, dancing and song.
Mixing has advanced and the full release of the festival recordings is now at an advanced stage. Two films of the festival are also in production.
Visit the site The Master Musicians of Joujouka Myspace
Monday, July 20, 2009
The 1969 first edition of Brion Gysin's novel the Process featured two paintings by Hamri. The Moroccan painter was a constant in Gysin's life throughout his 23 years in Morocco. Hamri famously introduced Brion to the music and musicians of his mothers tribe The Master Musicians of Joujouka/Jajouka. The character Hamid in the novel is based on Hamri.
The first edition was published by Jonathan Cape, London in 1969.
and back cover
William S. Burroughs review of the Process
In 1959, Gysin wrote : ” Writing is 50 years behind painting.” He attributed this time lag to the fact that the painter can touch and handle his medium, whereas the writer cannot. The writer does not yet know what words are. He deals with abstractions from the source point of words. Few writers are even trying to establish tactile communication with words. Words are secret untouchable objects, is it not? Superstitious awe of one’s medium is crippling, and cripples fall behind. This cultivated distance from the medium also places writing behind film and TV, regardless of content. Unless writing can bring to the page the immediate impact of film, it may well cease to exist as a separate genre. We are no longer living in the 19th century. The omniscient author who can move into the past, the future and the minds of his characters is an outworn device.
In “The Process”, Gysin has eliminated the obtrusive explanatory author.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
See full set here
Hamri and I had first met him [Burroughs] in the hired gallery of the Rembrandt Hotel in Tangier in 1953, when he wheeled into our exhibition, arms and legs flailing, talking a mile a minute. We found he looked very Occidental, more Private Eye and Inspector Lee: he trailed long vines of Bannisteria Caapi from the Upper Amazon after him and old Mexican bullfight posters fluttered out from under his long trench coat instead of a shirt. An odd blue light often flashed around under the brim of his hat. (Brion Gysin Let the Mice In, p.8) See Oliver Harris on Rembrandt Hotel
William Burroughs on the video Destroy All Rational Thought which features Hamri and The Master Musicians of Joujouka, Brion Gysin, William Burroughs and more.
Feb 28, 1994
I have seen the Dublin videos and they look very impressive. I am sure the actual performance must have been a real knock-out. We need more ‘diabolic music’ everywhere.
Not destroy all rational thought but put in proportion the 1/10 of the iceberg that appears above the water.
William S. Burroughs
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Membership card of Master Musicians of Joujouka/Jajouka/Jahjouka association.
Since 1994 Frank Rynne has been a member of the association of the Master Musicians of Joujouka/Serifya Association of the Master Musicians of Jahjouka/Jajouka/Joujouka. This membership carries with it the responsibilities and requirements to treat with and treat all fellow members equally. His representation of the Master Musicians of Joujouka in the West is an elected position and his views and actions are guided by the majority view of the Master Musicians of Joujouka/Jajouka/Jahjouka. It is not a relationship based on the contractual norms of the Western music business but rather, he is a fraternal member of the Master Musician's association.
This membership has set Rynne apart from other westerners who have produced the Master Musicians of Joujouka as he is accepted as an equal in the village but his designated and elected role has been to promote the Master Musician's music and to deal with people outside Morocco on their behalf.
Click on newspaper image below for actual article by Frank Rynne on his introduction to Master Musicians of Joujouka. Click links for text.
A Rolling Stone’s Moroccan odyssey
The Irish Times
22 Jul 2008
WHEN I FIRST visited Morocco in 1994, I took a one-way charter flight to Malaga and a ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar. On one side of the Straits were the burnt hills of Southern Spain, on the other the high colossus of the Rif Mountains. Soon I...read more...
The Guardian 29 May 2009: Article on Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 2008 and Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival June 2009
Mojo Article on Master Musicians of Joujouka Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival October 2008 OR click here for PDF of article with photos.
No Stone Unturned Frank Rynne and Bachir Attar interviewed re the controversy surrounding the reissue of the Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan Cd in 1995 from the Independent newspaper in the UK Friday, 21 July 1995
Past Masters from National Dubai March 6 2009. Though the Master Musicians disagree with many assertions in the article it is of interest as it is written by an unbiased journalist and musician Jace Clayton.
The Faded Myth of the Goat God German report on the damage to Joujouka and its future caused by Bachir Attar's controversial activities. 2005
An Interview with Bachir Attar July 9th, 2008 Walrus magazine Claims by Bachir Attar with refutations by Frank Rynne speaking on behalf of the Master Musicians of Joujouka
It's a place. Brian Jones went there in the Sixties. It's also a type of music. Now Joujouka is back, in more ways than one. It's all very confusing. By Philip Sweeney
Friday, 21 July 1995SHARE PRINTEMAILTEXT SIZE NORMALLARGEEXTRA LARGE
Did Brian Jones ever guess at what he had started when he made his way from the Minzeh hotel in Tangier some time in 1968 to a village in the Rif mountains, 100 kilometres to the south, to undertake what turned out to be his last recording project? Judging by contemporary accounts of Jones - stoned semi-comatose in Chelsea apartments, or playing non- existent basses on Covent Garden nightclub stages - the extent to which his imagination, and other aspects of cerebral activity, functioned was highly debatable.
The story of Brian Jones and Joujouka, and indeed of the phenomenon of Joujouka music itself, tends to rely heavily on extracts from a small bibliography: in the first place, a handful of pieces by Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and, to a lesser extent, Timothy Leary, and the unreliable but prolific newcomer Steven Davis, author of a 1993 novelisation Joujouka Rolling Stone. Tangier pioneer Bowles, composer and musicologist before writer, probably "discovered" the hermetic, hereditary Joujouka musician caste in the late 1940s, and introduced their sound to the painter and writer Brion Gysin when Gysin came over from Paris looking for a new direction to his life. Gysin was so knocked out by the musicians that he engaged a group of them as house band at the restaurant he opened in an old Tangier palace, the 1001 Knights. It was here that Burroughs, Leary, Joe Orton and countless other members of the beat generation, the ensuing rock generation, and assorted seekers after Tangier's drugs, homosexual liaisons and general eroticism encountered them.
It was Gysin who took Brian Jones to Joujouka to record the album released in 1971 as Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka, and an account by Gysin novelised by Steven Davis has the Rolling Stone in Afghan coat, spending one night at the guest house in Joujouka, where he gasped in stoned premonition at the resemblance of a long-haired blond goat slaughtered for supper to himself, recorded a hasty approximation of the Joujouka's ceremonial music and left ecstatic to pore over the tapes and add electronic effects.
Evidently Jones's visit made an impression on the 400 or so villagers. William Burroughs's account of his visit five years later with the next celebrity recorder, the jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, features the refrain of a drummer named Berdouz: "Very good. Very good everything. Out of sight."
And here is the very same Berdouz, now a sprightly 80, sitting two musicians away from me in the circle of djellaba-clad figures in a Cotswold farmhouse, chuckling "very good" and doing Brian Jones in headphones impressions when I ask him for his recollection of the 1968 visit. Berdouz's real name, it transpires, is Mohamed Attar, and there are three more Mohamed Attars among the 13 musicians here, as well as a Mustapha Attar and a Bachir Attar. The latter, now leader of the group, but an eight-year-old apprentice drummer in 1968, is telling me how the Attar family inherited the gift of their unique music from an ancestor who emigrated from Persia centuries ago, and how impostors will stoop to changing their names to Attar to claim the status of a Joujouka musician. Bachir makes it very clear, in response to my questions on how to contact master musicians of Joujouka, that, whether I ask at the Hotel Central in Tangier or make my way up the track to the village itself, I must always specify in my enquiries the master musicians of Bachir Attar.
We are in the house of the film composer John du Pre, and the musicians are temporarily headquartered on an assortment of camp beds upstairs, partly because Du Pre is planning to use extracts of their music in his soundtrack for Fierce Creatures, the sequel to A Fish Called Wanda. In addition, they are touring Europe - Womad this weekend and the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Monday. And they have a new record out, but this is where things start to get confusing, not least for the British music press. Joujouka Black Eyes, just released, is, according to July's Mojo magazine, the new record from Bachir's group. But mention of this record to Bachir Attar brings snorts of indignation and much use of terms like "impostor" "rip off" and "hustler". Bachir Attar's Master Musicians of Jajouka's (sic, Bachir Attar claims the change of spelling is irrelevant) record is the re-release by Point Music of the original Joujouka record Brian Jones Presents etc. Of course, mention this project to people associated with Joujouka Black Eyes, and you'll get symmetrically indignant accusations of sharp dealing and skulduggery.
The two recordings feature the same instruments - ghita flutes and assorted drums - but are rather different in feel. Joujouka Black Eyes, recorded by an Irish musician named Frank Rynne in Joujouka during a lengthy stay this winter, is relatively restrained, with gentle solo passages, whereas The Pipes of Pan recording captures the wild blast of the full-spate Boujouloudia goat-god rituals which inspired so much purple prose from the beats. "Women... scream with throats open to the gullet, lolling tongues around their empty heads... More and No more and No! More! Pipes crack in your head," wrote Brion Gysin, and it's true Joujouka at times resembles nothing so much as a Scottish regimental pipe band running amok on a mixture of amphetamine sulphate, Special Brew and helium. ("How did you play at the 1001 Knights?" I asked Berdouz, trying to imagine Tangier socialites nibbling pastela aux pigeonneaux against such fiendish muzak. "After they'd finished eating," was the reply.)
What is the schism that has apparently divided Joujouka? From the morass of unverifiable claims and counter-claims, it would appear to centre around a shift of the external leadership of the Joujouka musicians towards Bachir Attar over the past decade, coupled with an argument over who may be counted a "master musician of Joujouka [or Jajouka]". "Only 19 practising musicians connected to my family," says Bachir Attar, who claims leadership was conferred on him by his father, the master Hadj Abdesalam Attar, before his death in 1981. "A much larger number, belonging to the regional Serifya Folklore Association, which signed the original recording contract with Brian Jones," claims Frank Rynne, co-producer of Black Eyes. "These are not real musicians, and many are not from the village, and anyway, I'm the president of the Folklore Association, if it exists," ripostes Bachir. "No, the president is Mohamed Hamri, who signed the original Brian Jones contract and painted the cover artwork, which is now dropped from the re-release sleeve," says Rynne. "We dropped Hamri's art because we don't want anything more to do with him," says Bachir. "We've got a new contract now, and he's a hustler." And so on. In the Cotswold farmhouse Boujeloud the goat-god sips his mint tea and lights another Marlboro. To be continued.
n Womad Festival, Rivermead, Reading (01734 591591) to Sunday; Monday, QEH (0171-928 8800); 'Brian Jones Presents' by the Master Musicians of Jajouka (Point Music) and 'Joujouka Black Eyes' by the Master Musicians of Joujouka (Le Coeur du Monde) on release
As well as helping restore peace and harmony in the village of Joujouka, the Academy of Everything is Possible has recently sponsored and hosted the Calligraffiti of Fire exhibition in London's October Gallery.
the web site www.briongysin.com, the official Brion Gysin portal is currently being upgraded
DISC 1: BEATS:
1. William Burroughs Don't Play Guitar - Islamic Diggers
2. Divination One - Divination
3. 5 Ml. Barrel - Bomb The Bass (version)
4. Gazelle in the Desert - Scanner (mellow mix)
5. Ineffect - Material
6. His Name Is William Burroughs - Your Nemesis
7. Gazelle in the Desert - Scanner
8. Hashishin - Islamic Diggers
9. Cut Up - Brion Gysin
10. Radio Alamut - Islamic Diggers
DISC 2: BEAT:
1. Here to Go Blessing - Joujouka/Hamri
2. I Travelled Mostly on the Road - Herbert Huncke/Chuck Prophet
3. My Only Friend - Marianne Faithfull/The Master Musicians Of Joujouka
4. For Here to Go - William Burroughs
5. Dying on the Vine - John Cale
6. Remembering Brion Ira Cohen, Tery Wilson, Felicity Mason, Hamri, Trolley Bus
7. Sorcere's Apprentice, Terry Wilson
8. Visting Gysin's Studio - Paul Bowles
9. Liallah Ou Gnouai - Gnoua Brotherhood Of Marrakesh
10. Hassan in the City - Joe Ambrose
11. Little Goat God, The - Stanley Booth/Chuck Prophet
12. L'Aitaa (The Call) - The Master Musicians Of Joujouka
13. From Here to Go - Brion Gysin
Produced by Frank Rynne and Joe Ambrose
Not destroy all rational thought but put in proportion the 1/10 of the iceberg that appears above the water.
William S. Burroughs
Friday, July 17, 2009
INTERNATIONAL TIMES LAUNCH ONLINE ARCHIVES
THURSDAY 16TH JULY 6.30 - 8.30, IDEA GENERATION GALLERY
To celebrate the launch of International Times online archive we are hosting a one-off event at the gallery. Featuring vintage copies of the International Times, an 'Against Tyranny' documentary screening and a live oil projection from Bardo Light Show, inspired by the legendary UFO club.
The event also provides one of the last opportunities to have a look at Hoppy's photographs and films, and we are also offering a 10% discount on prints bought throughout the evening.
Please RSVP to email@example.com for more information
JOHN "HOPPY" HOPKINS: Against Tyranny
We've had loads of great responses to Hoppy's previously unsung work, the Evening Standard have sealed their stamp of approval with a full 5 star review! See, http://tinyurl.com/l6klz4
Also, have a read of this for descriptions of Hoppy's underground photgraphs: http://www.notesfromtheunderground.co.uk/hoppy.html
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Cave of Boujeloud , Joujouka, 29 July 2009 photo Marc English
Boy with harmonica Cave of Boujeloud by Marc English taken at Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival in Joujouka
The fanzine The Devil on 45 edited by Ed on 45 is out now. Ed journeyed to Morocco last year to attend the Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival in Joujouka with photos by Marc English. This is a true zine and deserves your support. Issue three was a special on the Delta Blues. Thanks Ed.
The long awaited Fourth Issue of ‘The Devil On 45’ Zine hit’s the streets on the 10th of July 09. The Devil On 45 focuses on the more unusual side of music/music culture. From the strange to the controversial to the outright banned, The Devil On 45 pays homage to the wonderful and weird world of music and art. This issue is 76 pages, A4, photocopied and not one single advertisement.!
In This Issue:
The Master Musicians Of Joujouka - Your humble editor’s Journey to Joujouka, Morocco to hear the Master Musicians play the music of Boujaloud.
Heavy Metal In Baghdad - An Interview with Eddy Moretti - Co-creator of Vice Magazine and director of Heavy Metal In Baghdad - The Story of Iraq’s only metal band Acrassicauda.
An Interview with Marie Korpe and Ole Reitov from Freemuse.Org, An organisation dedicated to supporting freedom of speech for Musicians worldwide.
In League With Satan - The Malaysian Black Metal Ban - An in-depth article focussing on the suppression and outright ban on Black Metal in Malaysia, featuring interviews with banned musicians.
An Interview with InPlainSite.Org - An Christian organisation dedicated to eradicating all forms of ‘satanic rock music’ including Christian Rock itself!
Brotherhoods Of Breath - Moroccan Sufi Trance Today by Joe Ambrose (author of Chelsea Hotel Manhatten, Gimme Danger: The Iggy Pop Story and Moshpit Culture)
An Outer Space Music Fantasy - Welcome To Meeksville - A look into the strange life and tragic death of the legendary Joe Meek, engineer and producer.
For Those About To Pop, We Salute You! Part Two: The Diasopric Gem Clusters by Boz Mugabe - Part Two of this looks into pop gems from the Surfaris through to Sandie Shaw and Public Image Ltd.
Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead - Some Hallucination Induced Thoughts on Albert Hofman, LSD, Psychedelia and Hypocritical Society.
The Devil’s Music - Rock n’ Roll’s Romance With The Occult - From Robert Johnson, to Jimmy Page to Genesis P-Orridge, musician’s liaisons with the prince of darkness.
The West Memphis Three - Injustice in Arkansas, background to the case and more information on how you can help.
The Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock - An insightful interview with the future of Irish rock/folk
An Economic (and Economical) History Of The MP3
*** Plus almost 20 pages of Original art/cartoons etc.
76 A4 Pages,
Copies can be obtained by post Standby for further information on stockists, distro’s and direct sales.
Post: Don45/ PO Box 10967/ Rutland Place/ Dublin 1
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
The event was a rare opportunity for old friends to gather and new friends to form acquaintances in the spirit of and in homage to the artists, thinkers and practitioners who inhabited the hotel which lodged the seminal thinkers who have inspired the the 60s counter-culture, punk rock, the Internet age and so much more during the 1950s and until 1963 when the hotel ws changed forever.
We are all indebted to the organisers Ian McFayden and Oliver Harris and all those who participated in the conference organised in conjunction with University College London and Keale University which took place at the British Council building at Invalides.
invocation at the Beat Hotal 1 July 2009. Pic Frank Rynne
For more images and video visit Naked Lunch@50 and don't forget the events in Lawrence, Kansas, New York, and San Francisco and more.
If you are organising an event in your home town please contact nakedlucnh.org and let them know.
For more images and videos of the events please visit the official Naked Lunch@50 site
To keep up to date on William Burroughs events and writings visit realitystudio.org
For the Interzone blogspot and community click here
More on this blog from the Paris Naked Lunch@50 events click Plaque Unveiling at Beat Hotel and for symposium downtime and the Last Words of Hassan Sabbah click here
More photos here soon.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Mallim Ali Abdelsalm El Attar the oldest musician from Master Musicians of Joujouka/Master Musicians of Jajouka at 100
Photo copyright Jill Furmanovsky/Rockarchive
Last year he presided over the Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival in Joujouka as he did at this year's festival in June. The reverence shown to him by the Masters is evident when they arrive at the musician's house in Joujouka. His presence is always something to be appreciated as a blessing. He is the spiritual leader of the musicians by virtue of his age, his wisdom and his adherence to the saint, Sidi Ahmed Scheich, whose blessings he attributes his longevity to.
At nearly 100 year of age Mallim Ali has had a hard life. In 1936 he was conscripted by General Franco into the Spanish colonial army and was forced to fight in all the battles in the Spanish Civil War. This was an experience that many his generation of Sufi masters in Joujouka endured. He was retained in Spain until the end of World War II and then returned to his native Morocco without pay or pension.
From 1945 onwards he continued to play with The Master Musicians of Joujouka and was a veteran of Hamri's efforts to support the village by bringing the musicians to play on the trains between Ksar El kebir and Tangier, in the International Zone. This was the Interzone of William Burrough's fiction. In the 1950s he played at Brion Gysin and Hamri's restaurant, the 1001 nights in Tangier. This is where William Burroughs first saw the Master Musicians perform. He recalls his playing for Brian Jones with humorous glee. However a sadness also descends on Mallim Ali when he recalls those days to people. He always insists on naming the great masters who played with him who are now dead.
Last year, award winning rock photographer, Jill Furmanovsky, made a series of portraits of Mallim Ali which were published in the Onelife magazine. Other photographs by Jill of the Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival in Joujouka have appeared in The Guardian, Dazed and Confused and Mojo . The festival was celebration by the village of jaoujouka/Joujouka of brian Jones visit to record an LP in 1968. The resulting LP "Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka" was the first release on Rolling Stones Records in 1971. A small selection of her images from the Brian Jones Festival are available on The Master Musicians Myspace.
This June I brought copies of the magazine to the village and the day before the festival and on 4 June 2009, I presented Mallim Ali with a copy. In the below slide show you can see Mallim Ali looking at the magazine and I really like the photo I took of him with Jill's photo open on a magazine page with his full page portrait. Michael Pollock and his son Marlon were on the porch and Master Musicians Mohamed Mockshan and Radi El Kahil arrive and greet the Master. It is obvious in the photos the reverence that the Masters have for Mallim Ali. I always bring several tubes of prescription eye ointment for him as he has severe eye pain and discomfort. He always blesses me for this small gesture.
Photo copyright Jill Furmanovsky/Rockarchive
The day I left Joujouka in June he called me to one side and asked me where was the money gone from the Brian Jones recording and the other records he played on such as the Master Musicians of Jajouka record that Joel Rubiner put out in 1974 and Ornette Coleman's "Dancing in My Head" .
Words and Photos copryright Frank Rynne
Pics of Mallim Ali and Frank Rynne taken by Marlon Pollock
Joujouka/Jajouka March 16 2006.
photo by and copyright Frank Rynne
"That was some serious groove action........That was insane" Billy Corgan on Master Musicians of Joujouka 2006
Master Musicians of Joujouka links
Master Musicians of Joujouka on Myspace
Ethical Shopping to buy Buy CDs and books Click Here
First published by Crawdaddy Magazine, June 1975,
Bill and Jimmy discuss Joujouka music, the hypnotizing audiences into trance states, and speculate about "infra-sound" weapons to alter the behaviour of crowds.
by William Burroughs
My first impression was of the audience. As we streamed through one security line after another--a river of youth looking curiously like a single organism: one well-behaved clean looking middle-class kid. The security guards seemed to be cool and well-trained, ushering gate-crashers out with a minimum of fuss. We were channelled smoothly into our seats in the thirteenth row. Over a relaxed dinner before the concert, a Crawdaddy companion had said he had a feeling that something bad could happen at this concert. I pointed out that it always can when you get that many people together--like bullfights where you buy a straw hat at the door to protect you from bottles and other missiles. I was displacing possible danger to a Mexican border town where the matador barely excaped with his life and several spectators were killed. It's known as "clearing the path."
So there we sat, I decline earplugs; I am used to loud drum and horn music from Morocco, and it always has, if skillfully performed, an exhilarating and energizing effect on me. As the performance got underway I experienced this musical exhilaration, which was all the more pleasant for being easily controlled, and I knew then that nothing bad was going to happen. This was a safe and friendly area--but at the same time highly charged. There was a palpable interchange of energy between the performers and the audience which was never frantic or jagged. The special effects were handled well and not overdone.
A few special effects are much better than too many. I can see the laser beams cutting dry ice smoke, which drew an appreciative cheer from the audience. Jimmy Page's number with the broken guitar strings came across with a real impact, as did John Bonham's drum solo and the lyrics delivered with unfailing vitality by Robert Plant. The performers were doing their best, and it was very good. The last number, "Stairway to Heaven", where the audience lit matches and there was a scattering of sparklers here and there, found the audience well-behaved and joyous, creating the atmosphere of a high school Christmas play. All in all a good show; neither low nor insipid. Leaving the concert hall was like getting off a jet plane.
I summarized my impressions after the concert in a few notes to serve as a basis for my talk with Jimmy Page. "The essential ingredient for any successful rock group is energy--the ability to give out energy, to receive energy from the audience and to give it back to the audience. A rock concert is in fact a rite involving the evocation and transmutation of energy. Rock stars may be compared to priests, a theme that was treated in Peter Watkin's film 'Privilege'. In that film a rock star was manipulated by reactionary forces to set up a state religion; this scenario seems unlikely, I think a rock group singing political slogans would leave its audience at the door.
"The Led Zeppelin show depends heavily on volume, repetition and drums. It bears some resemblance to the trance music found in Morocco, which is magical in origin and purpose--that is, concerned with the evocation and control of spiritual forces. In Morocco, musicians are also magicians. Gnaoua music is used to drive out evil spirits. The music of Joujouka evokes the God Pan, Pan God of Panic, representing the real magical forces that sweep away the spurious. It is to be remembered that the origin of all the arts--music, painting and writing--is magical and evocative; and that magic is always used to obtain some definite result. In the Led Zeppelin concert, the result aimed at would seem to be the creation of energy in the performers and in the audience. For such magic to succeed, it must tap the sources of magical energy, and this can be dangerous."
I felt that these considerations could form the basis of my talk with Jimmy Page, which I hoped would not take the form of an interview. There is something just basically WRONG about the whole interview format. Someone sticks a mike in your face and says, "Mr. Page, would you care to talk about your interest in occult practices? Would you describe yourself as a believer in this sort of thing?" Even an intelligent mike-in-the-face question tends to evoke a guarded mike-in the-face answer. As soon as Jimmy Page walked into my loft downtown, I saw that it wasn't going to be that way.
We started talking over a cup of tea and found we have friends in common: the real estate agent who negotiated Jimmy Page's purchase of the Aleister Crowley house on Loch Ness; John Michel, the flying saucer and pyramid expert; Donald Camel, who worked on 'Performance'; Kenneth Anger, and the Jaggers, Mick and Chris. The subject of magic came up in connection with Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Anger's film 'Lucifer Rising', for which Jimmy Page did the sound track.
Since the word "magic" tends to cause confused thinking, I would like to say exactly what I mean by "magic" and the magical interpretation of so-called reality. The underlying assumption of magic is the assertion of 'will' as the primary moving force in this universe--the deep conviction that nothing happens unless somebody or some being wills it to happen. To me this has always seemed self-evident. A chair does not move unless someone moves it. Neither does your physical body, which is composed of much the same materials, move unless you will it to move. Walking across the room is a magical operation. From the viewpoint of magic, no death, no illness, no misfortune, accident, war or riot is accidental. There are no accidents in the world of magic. And will is another word for animate energy. Rock stars are juggling fissionable material that could blow up at any time... "The soccer scores are coming in from the Capital...one must pretend an
interest," drawled the dandified Commandante, safe in the pages of my book; and as another rock star said to me, "YOU sit on your ass writing--_I_ could be torn to pieces by my fans, like Orpheus."
I found Jimmy Page equally aware of the risks involved in handling the fissionable material of the mass unconcious. I took on a valence I learned years ago from two 'Life-Time' reporters--one keeps telling you these horrific stories: "Now old Burns was dragged out of the truck and skinned alive by the mob, and when we got there with the cameras the bloody thing was still squirming there like a worm..." while the other half of the team is snapping pictures CLICK CLICK CLICK to record your reactions--so over dinner at Mexican Gardens I told
Jimmy the story of the big soccer riot in Lima, Peru in 1964.
We are ushered into the arena as VIP's, in the style made famous by 'Triumph of the Will'. Martial music--long vistas--the statuesque police with their dogs on leads--the crowd surging in a sultry menacing electricity palpable in the air--grey clouds over Lima--people glance up uneasily... the last time it rained in Lima was the year of the great earthquake, when whole towns were swallowed by landslides. A cop is beating and kicking someone as he shoves him back towards the exit. Oh lucky man. The dogs growl ominously. The game is tense. Tied until the end of the last quarter, and then the stunning decision: a goal that would have won the game for Peru is disqualified by the Uruguayan referee. A howl of rage from the crowd, and then a huge black known as La Bomba, who has started three previous soccer riots and already has twenty-three notches on his bomb, vaults down into the arena. A wave of fans follows The Bomb--the Uruguayan referee scrambles off with the agility of a rat or an evil spirit--the police release tear gas and unleash their snarling dogs, hysterical with fear and rage and maddened by the tear gas. And then a sound like falling mountains, as a few drops of rain begin to fall.
"Yes, I've thought about that. We all have. The important thing is maintain a balance. The kids come to get far out with the music. It's our job to see they have a good time and no trouble."
And remember the rock group called Storm? Playing a dance hall in Switzerland...fire...exits locked...thirty-seven people dead including all the performers. Now any performer who has never thought about fire and panic just doesn't think. The best way to keep something bad from happening is to see it ahead of time, and you can't see it if you refuse to face the possibility. The bad vibes in that dance hall must have been really heavy. If the performers had been sensitive and alert, they would have checked to be sure the exits were unlocked.
Previously, over two fingers of whiskey in my Franklin Street digs, I had told Page about Major Bruce MacMannaway, a healer and psychic who lives in Scotland. The Major discovered his healing abilities in World War II when his regiment was cut off without medical supplies and the Major started laying on hands..."Well Major, I think it's a load of bollocks but I'll try anything." And it turns out the Major is a walking hypo. His psychic abilities were so highly regarded by the Admiralty that he was called in to locate sunken submarines, and he never once missed.
I attended a group meditation seminar with the Major. It turned out to be the Indian rope trick. Before the session the Major told us something of the potential power in group meditation. He had seen it lift a six-hundred-pound church organ five feet in the air. I had no reason to doubt this, since he was obviously incapable of falsification. In the session, after some preliminary excercises, the Major asked us to see a collumn of light in the center of the room and then took us up through the light to a plateau where we met nice friendly people: the stairway to heaven in fact. I mean we were really THERE.
I turned to Jimmy Page: "Of course we are dealing here with meditation--the deliberate induction of a trance state in a few people under the hands of an old master. This would seem on the surface to have a little in common with a rock concert, but the underlying force is the same: human energy and its potential concentration." I pointed out that the moment when the stairway to heaven becomes something actually POSSIBLE for the audience, would also be the moment of greatest danger. Jimmy expressed himself as well aware of the power in mass concentration, aware of the dangers involved, and of the skill and balance needed to avoid them...rather like driving a load of nitroglycerine.
"There IS a responsibility to the audience," he said. "We don't want anything bad to happen to these kids--we don't want to release anything we can't handle." We talked about magic and Aleister Crowley. Jimmy said that Crowley has been maligned as a black magician, whereas magic is neither white nor black, good nor bad--it is simply alive with what it is: the real
thing, what people really feel and want and are. I pointed out that this "either/or" straitjacket had been imposed by Christianity when all magic became black magic; that scientists took over from the Church, and Western man has been stifled in a non-magical universe known as "the way things are." Rock music can be seen as one attempt to break out of this dead soulless universe and reassert the universe of magic.
Jimmy told me that Aleister Crowley's house has very good vibes for anyone who is relaxed and receptive. At one time the house had also been the scene of a vast chicken swindle indirectly involving George Sanders, the movie actor, who was able to clear himself of any criminal charges, Sanders committed suicide in Barcelona, and we both remembered his farewell note to the world: "I leave you to this sweet cesspool."
I told Jimmy he was lucky too have that house with a monster in the front yard. What about the Loch Ness monster? Jimmy Page thinks it exists. I wondered if it could find enough to eat, and thought this unlikely--it's not the improbability but the upkeep on monsters that worries me. Did Aleister Crowley have opinions on the subject? He apparently had not expressed himself.
We talked about trance music. He had heard the Brian Jones record from recordings made at Joujouka. We discussed the possibility of synthesizing rock music with some of the older forms of trance music that have been developed over centuries to produce powerful, sometimes hypnotic effects on the audience. Such a synthesis would enable the older forms to escape from the mould of folk lore and provide new techniques to rock groups.
We talked about the special effects used in the concert. "Sure," he said, "lights, lasers, dry ice are fine--but you have to keep some balance. The show must carry itself and not rely too heavily on special effects, however spectacular," I brought up the subject of infra-sound, that is, sound pitched below 16 Hertz, the level of human hearing; as ultra-sound is above the level. Professer Gavreau of France developed infra-sound as a military weapon. A powerful infra-sound installation can, he claims, kill everyone in a five-mile radius, knock down walls and break windows. Infra-sound kills by setting up vibrations within the body so that, as Gavreau puts it, "You can feel all the organs in your body rubbing together." The plans for this device can be obtained from the French Patent Office, and infra-sound generators constructed from inexpensive materials. Needless to say, one is not concerned with military applications however unlimited, but with more interesting and useful possibilities, reaching much further that five miles.
Infra-sound sets up vibrations in the body and nervous system. Need these vibrations necessarily be harmful or unpleasant? All music played at any volume sets up vibrations in the body and nervous system of the listener. That's why people listen to it. Caruso as you wil remember could break a champagne glass across the room. Especially interesting is the possibility of rhythmic pulses of infra-sound; that is, MUSIC IN INFRA-SOUND. You can't hear it, but you can feel it.
Jimmy was interested, and I gave him a copy of a newspaper article on infra-sound. It seems that the most deadly rande is around 7 Hertz, and when this is turned on even at a low volume, anyone within range is affected. They feel anxious, ill, depressed, and finally exclaim with one voice, "I feel TERRIBLE!"...last thing you want at a rock concert. However, around the borders of infra-sound perhaps a safe range can be found. Buddhist mantras act by setting up vibrations in the body. Could this be done in a much more powerful yet safe manner by the use of infra-sound rhythms which could of course could be combined with audible music? Perhaps infra-sound could add a new dimension to rock music.
Could something be developed comparable to the sonar communication of dolphins, conveying an immediate sonar experience that requires no symbolic translation? I mentioned to Jimmy that I had talked with Dr. Truby, who worked with John Lilly recording dolphins. Dr. Truby is a specialist in inter-species communication, working on a grant from the government--so that when all our kids are born Venusians we will understand then when they start to talk. I suggested to him that ALL communication, as we know it, is actually inter-species communication, and that it is kept that way by the nature of verbal and symbolic communication, which must be indirect.
Do dolphins have a language? What is a language? I define a language as a communication system in which data are represented by verbal or written symbols--symbols that ARE NOT THE OBJECTS to which they refer. The word "chair" is not the object itself, the chair. So any such system of communication is always second-hand and symbolic, whereas we CAN conceive of a form of communication that would be immediate and direct, undercutting the need for symbols. And music certainly comes closer to such direct communication than language.
Could musical communication be rendered more precise with infra-sound, thus bringing the whole of music a second radical step forward? The first step was made when music came out of the dance halls, roadhouses, and night clubs, into Madison Square Garden and Shea Stadium. Rock music appeals to a mass audience, instead of being the province of a relatively few aficionados. Can rock music make another step forward, or is it a self-limiting form, confirmed by the demands of a mass audience? How much that is radically new can a mass audience safely absorb? We came back to the question of balance. How much new material will be accepted by a mass audience? Can rock music go forward without leaving its fans behind?
We talked about Wilhelm Reich's orgone accumulator, and I showed him plans for making this device, which were passed along to me by Reich's daughter. Basically the device is very simple, consisting of iron or steel wool on the inside and organic material on the outside. I think this was highly important discovery. Recently a scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced an "electrical cell" theory of cancer that is almost identical to Reich's cancer theory put forth 25 years ago. He does not acknowledge any indebtedness to Reich. I showed Jimmy the orgone box I have here, and we agreed that orgone accumulators in pyramid form and/or using magnetized iron could be much more powerful.
We talked about the film 'Performance' and the use of cut-up techniques in this film. Now the cut-up method was applied to writing by Brion Gysin in 1959; he said that writing was fifty years behind painting, and applied the montage method to writing. Actually, montage is much closer to the facts of perception thatn representational painting. If for example you walked through Times Square, and then put on canvas what you had seen, the result would be a montage...half a person cut in two by a car, reflections from shop windows, fragments of street signs. Antony Balch and I collaborated on a film called 'Cut-Ups', in which the film was cut into segments and rearranged at random. Nicholas Roeg and Donald Camel saw a screening of the film not long before they made 'Performance'.
Musical cut-ups have been used by Earl Browne and other modern composers. What distinguishes a cut-up from, say, an edited medley, is that the cut-up is at some point random. For example, if you made a medley by taking thirty seconds from a number of scores and assembling these arbitrary units--that would be a cut-up. Cut-ups often result in more succinct meanings, rather than nonsense. Here for example is a phrase taken from a cut-up of this article: "I can see the laser gate crashers with an appreciative cheer from the 13th row." (Actually a gate crasher was extricated by security from the row in front of us; an incident I had forgoten until I saw this cut-up.)
Over dinner at the Mexican Gardens, I was suprised to hear that Jimmy Page had never heard of Petrillo, who started the first musicians' union and perhaps did more than any other one man to improve the financial position of musicians by protecting copyrights. One wonders whether rock music could have gotten off the ground without Petrillo and the Union, which put musicians in the big money bracket, thereby attracting managers, publicity, and the mass audience.
Music, like all the arts, is magical and ceremonial in origin. Can rock music return to these ceremonial roots and take its fans with it? Can rock music use older forms like Moroccan trance music? There is at present a wide interest among young people in the occult and all means of expanding consciousness. Can rock music appeal directly to this interest? In short, there are a number of disparate tendencies waiting to be synthesized. Can rock music serve as a vehicle for this synthesis?
The broken guitar strings, John Bonham's drum solo, vitality by Robert Plant--when you get that many people to get it, very good. Buy a straw hat at the door--the audience all light matches. Cool well-trained laser beams channelled the audience smoothly. A scattering of sparklers. Danger to a Mexican border town. We start talking over a cup of the mass unconscious-- cut to a soccer riot photo in Lima. The Uruguayan referee as another rock star. Sound like falling mountains of the risks involved. It's our job to see trouble and plateau the center of the room--remember the stairway to Switzerland? Fire really there. You can't see it if you refuse--underlying force the same. I mean we were playing a dance hall in heaven at the moment when the stairway actually possible for the audience was unlocked.
WORD FOR WORD
WILLIAM BURROUGHS: I really, really enjoyed the concert. I think it has quite a lot, really, in common with Moroccan trance music.
JIMMY PAGE: Yes, yes.
WB: I wondered if you consciously were using any of that....
JP: Well, yes, there is a little on that perticular track, "Kashmir"--a lead bass on that--even though none of us have been to Kashmir. It's just that we've all been very involved in that sort of music. I'm very involved in ethnic music from all over the world.
WB: Have you been to Morocco?
JP: No. I haven't, and it's a very sad admission to make. I've only been to, you know, India and Bangkok and places like that through the Southeast.
WB: Well, I've never been east of Athens.
JP: Because during the period when everybody was going through trips over to, you know, Morocco, going down, way down, making their own journeys too Istanbul, I was at art college during that period and then I eventually went straight into music. So I really missed out on all that sort of traveling. But I know musicians that have gone there and actually sat in with the Arabs and played with them.
WB: Yeah, well they think of music entirely in magical terms.
WB: And their music is definitely used for magical purposes. For example, the Gnaoua music is to drive out evil spirits and Joujouka music is invoking the God Pan. Musicians there are all magicians, quite consciously.
WB: I was thinking of the concentration of mass energy that you get in a pop concert, and if that were, say, channelled in some magical way...a stairway to heaven...it could become quite actual.
JP: Yes, I know. One is so aware of the energies that you are going for, and you could so easily....I mean, for instance, the other night we played in the Philadelphia Spectrum, which really is a black hole as a concert hall....The security there is the most ugly of anywhere in the States. I saw this incident happen and I was almost physically sick. In fact, if I hadn't been playing the guitar I was playing it would've been over somebody's head. It was a double-neck, which is irreplaceable, really, unless you wait another nine months for them to make another one at Gibson's.
What had happened, somebody came to the front of the stage to take a picture or something and obviously somebody said, "Be off with you." And he wouldn't go. And then one chap went over the barrier, and then another, and then another and then another, and they all piled on top of...you could see the fists coming out...on this one solitary person. And they dragged him by his hair and they were kicking him. It was just sickening. Now, what I'm saying is this....Our crowds, the people that come to see us are very orderly. It's not the sort of Alice Cooper style, where you actually TRY to get them into a state where they've got to go like that, so that you can get reports of this, that and the other. And the wrong word said at that time could've just sparked off the whole thing.
WB: Yes, there's sort of a balance to be maintained there.
JP: Yeah, that's right.
WB: The audience the other night was very well behaved.
WB: Have you used the lasers in all of the concerts?
JP: Over here, yes.
WB: Very effective.
JP: I think we should have more of them, don't you? About thirty of them! Do you know they bounced that one off the moon. But it's been condensed....it's the very one that they used for the moon. I was quite impressed by that.
WB: That isn't the kind of machine that would cause any damage....
JP: Uh, if you look straight into it, yes.
WB: Yes, but I mean...it doesn't burn a hole in...
JP: No....it's been taken right down. I'm just waiting for the day when you can get the holograms...get three-dimensional. The other thing I wanted to do was the Van de Graaff Generator. You used to see them in the old horror films....
WB: Oh yes...Frankenstein, and all that.
JP: When we first came over here... when the draft was really hot and everything...if you stayed in the country for more than six months, you were eligible for it, they'd drag you straight into the draft.
WB: I didn't realize that.
WB: Oh, I thought you had to be an American citizen.
JP: Noo. No no. We almost overstayed our welcome. I was producing and having to work in studios here, and the days coming up to the six month period were just about...it was just about neck and neck. And I still had a couple more days left and a couple more days to work on this lp.
WB: Were they right there with the papers?
JP: Well, not quite, I mean obviously it would have taken some time, but somebody would've been there...You know, they do keep an eye on people.
WB: Did you ever hear about something called infra-sound?
JP: Uh, carry on.
WB: Well, infra-sound is sound below the level of hearing. And it was developed by someone named Professor Gavreau in France as a military weapon. He had an infra-sound installation that he could turn on and kill everything within five miles. It can also knock down walls and break windows. But it kills by setting up vibrations within the body. Well, what I was wondering was, whether rhythmical music at sort of the borderline of infra-sound could be used to produce rhythms in the audience--because, of course, any music with volume will set up these vibrations. That is part of the way the effect is achieved.
WB: It's apparently...it's not complicated to build these infra-sound things.
JP: I've heard of this, actually but not in such a detailed explanation. I've heard that certain frequencies can make you physically ill.
WB: Yes. Well, this can be fatal. That's not what you're looking for. But it could be used just to set up vibrations....
JP: Ah hah...A death ray machine! Of course, when radio first came out they were picketing all the radio stations, weren't they, saying "We don't want these poisonous rays" [laughter]....Yes, well...certain notes can break glasses. I mean, opera singers can break glasses with sound, this is true?
WB: That was one of Caruso's tricks.
JP: But it is true?
WB: Of course.
JP: I've never seen it done.
WB: I've never seen it done, but I know that you can do it.
JP: I want laser NOTES, that's what I'm after! Cut right through.
WB: Apparently you can make one of these things out of parts you can buy in a junk yard. It's not a complicated machine to make. And actually the patent...it's patented in France, and according to French law, you can obtain a copy of the patent. For a very small fee.
JP: Well, you see the thing is, it's hard to know just exactly what is going on, from the stage to the audience...You can only...I mean I've never seen the group play, obviously. Because I'm part of it....I can only see it on celluloid, or hear it. But I know what I see. And this thing about rhythms within the audience. I would say yes. Yes, definitely. And it is...Music which involves riffs, anyway, will have a trance-like effect, and it's really like a mantra....And we've been attacked for that.
WB: What a mantra does is set up certain vibrations within the body, and this, obviously does the same thing. Of course, it goes....it comes out too far. But I was wondering if on the borderline of infra-sound that possibly some interesting things could be done.
JP: Last year we were playing [sets] for three hours solid, and physically that was a real...I mean, when I came back from the last tour I didn't know where I was. I didn't even know where I was going. We ended up in New York and the only thing that I could relate to was the instrument onstage. I just couldn't....I was just totally and completely spaced out.
WB: How long was that you played recently? That was two hours and a half.
JP: That was two and a half hours, yes. It used to go for three hours.
WB: I'd hate to give a three-hour reading....
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Friday, July 10, 2009
JOUJOUKA (VIA JOHNNY CASH) Interview with Master Musicians of Joujouka producer and current manager Frank Rynne by Paul Hawkins
Paul Hawkins interviews Frank Rynne on the world's oldest Rock' n' Roll band : The Master Musicians of Joujouka
The Master Musicians of Joujouka were first promoted in Western literature by William Burroughs in the 1950s. Since they first attracted the attention of Burroughs' sidekick Brion Gysin in the early fifties, The Master Musicians of Joujouka have been feted and visited by a host of cultural luminaries including Paul Bowles, Brian Jones, Acid guru Timothy Leary, who wrote an essay on his trip in Jail Notes (1971), Ornette Coleman, The Rolling Stones, and latterly by producers Bill Laswell and Frank Rynne. The most recent celebrity to receive the musicians' hospitality in Joujouka (or Jajouka) was Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan who Rynne accompanied to the remote mountain top in 2006.
Rynne's Joujouka experiences are different from many westerners. Rynne, like Brion Gysin, who spent 23 years in Morocco so as to be close to the musicians, has kept up his contact and made dozens of visits to the village over the past fifteen years. Like Brion Gysin he was a friend of the Moroccan painter Mohamed Hamri who first brought his native village and their Master Sufi trance musicians to the notice of the Western avant garde. Rynne's knowledge of the village, the music, culture and the individual villagers is unparalleled.
I caught up with Frank Rynne to find out about his work with the Master Musicians of Joujouka, which is soon to enter its sixteenth year. Frank talks about recording three CDs, radio shows, films and soundtracks in Joujouka, as well as managing the Master Musicians of Joujouka.
Being a fan of William Burroughs, Frank, getting to visit the Master Musicians in their home village of Joujouka must have been amazing. The village is linked closely to the Tangier Beat Generation; tell me about your first time out there.
There had been a bit of journey to get to that point. I don't think Burroughs was on my mind when I eventually got there. Not at first in any case. It took a few weeks to absorb the reality and put it into the context of things that I had read. At my side through my first adventures in Joujouka was Mohamed Hamri who was himself the equal to anyone else considered to be part of the beat generation in his personality, talent and his ability to tell a story.
I know that you first met Hamri at the Here to Go Show in Dublin back in 1992...Tell me about that.
In 1992 I co-organised the Here to Go Show, an art show celebrating the work of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Being a musician I was particularly interested in the musical connection between the painters we exhibited: Burroughs, Gysin and Hamri the Painter of Morocco. That music was of course the Master Musicians of Joujouka who Brian Jones posthumously made famous by recording them and later, in 1971, The Rolling Stones released his album as the first release on Rolling Stones Records.
Their presence was powerful one at the Here To Go Show..........the Destroy All Rational Thought DVD captures the aura really well.........
Hamri rightly insisted that the Master Musicians of Joujouka were essential to any event promoting Brion Gysin so I worked on getting Joujouka to the show. Gysin's love of Joujouka trance music kept him in Morocco for 23 years. After the show I kept in touch with Hamri by phone and he kept insisting I come to Joujouka. It took a few years to get there but when I came I had a contract with Sub Rosa Records to do a CD and it took precedence over other concerns. The result of my first three months there was the Joujouka Black Eyes CD released in 1995. Recording it was an amazing experience.
So how did the recording sessions go?
Around 10 am every day, as I awoke after another all night session of music, I would hear the musicians' voices outside. The sound of Hamri's slippers in the kitchen was my call to duty. Hearing the kettle put in place and the sound of eggs sizzling in a metal plate, I would go out and greet the Mallims (Master Musicians) on the veranda.
Joujouka Black Eyes was recorded in organic moments. We'd eat, talk, then have some music, eat, move to the back of the house away from the sun, and have a little music. Day and night blended together. Time was marked by a Friday ritual; the older musicians were shaved by the younger ones before they went to the mosque. Occasionally Hamri would get restless and after 12 days we would return to Tangier for a weekend.
Which is where Hamri and Brion Gysin had their 1001 Night restaurant and where they insisted the Master Musicians played for the diners, who were often writers, artists and musicians associated with the Tangier Beats.........
Yes it was in Tangier that Hamri met Paul Bowles in 1950 and later Gysin and Burroughs. Tangiers was where the Beats gathered in Morocco in the 1950s and 1960s. It was an International Zone ruled by six powers who all vied for prominence. This was the Interzone of Burroughs' fiction and Gysin and Hamri were at the centre of that world. In Tangiers it was easier to connect with the Burroughs spirit. He drew on the city so much for his fiction and even though Dean's Bar is now covered in Real Madrid memorabilia it still retains something essentially seedy and Mugwumpish. Maybe it's the cockroaches.
Maybe! Burroughs championed their music, and by doing that, the whole culture and spirituality, didn't he?
Burroughs' reverence and respect for the Masters was without prejudice. He loved the music. He both appreciated and promoted its importance to the best of his abilities. In Joujouka it was easy to feel the spirit of Hassan I Sabbah which Burroughs felt had somehow been transposed to the place. Burroughs and Gysin imagined Joujouka as hilltop fortress populated by musicians and their families but connected by some mystical thread to Hassan I Sabbah's Alamut fortress (destroyed by Hugula Khan in 13th C.). The musicians did originate in Persia where Hassan had his fortress and his Hashishin (Assassin) followers. However religiously there is little connection between them and the Ismailis.
Describe what the village of Joujouka is like for me.
The best eggs in the world…………and olive oil…………..and chickens and the bread is magnificent! Joujouka changes radically through the seasons, from rain and mud slides to desert like dust. The village consists of some two hundred houses perched on a small hill. In the centre is the Sanctuary of 8th century Sufi saint Sidi Ahmed Scheich, the mosque and the graveyard. The people who live in the area and the nearby villages are intrinsically connected through family ties and land usage. They are mostly from the very large Ahl Srif tribe whose area runs from Ouzanne to Chefchouen. The Master Musicians of Joujouka are famous within their tribe. The Sanctuary in Joujouka is a central feature of the village. It is on the side of the hill that the graveyard is on and also the house of Hamri and the new guest house.
There is sometimes a unique micro climate existing in a high up craggy area....
The area is mountainous. Joujouka is a gateway to the higher mountains. The view to the east is of fifty small hills and a great lake. To the north are the higher Rif Mountains. However life can be very tough in Joujouka. The seasons bring their problems, drought and mountain fires in summer, mud slides and erosion caused by rain in winter. There are also other strange natural phenomenons.
Such as Frank? Tell me more.............
Once I saw the sky blacken with birds quite like starlings. The flock was 3 kilometres in width and several kilometres long. They flew over and attacked the olive groves of the valley. They blocked the sun and turned the day into twilight. The sound of their wings and their presence overhead created a pressure on top of us all. This was very Hitchcockian. Within twenty minutes they left with half that years' olive crop in their bellies. One of the musicians Abdelslam Errtoubi (the Errtoubi are the descendants of Sidi Ahmed Scheich) asked me "Why are you taking photos when our crops are being destroyed?" I asked him why he was not trying to stop the birds. He shrugged and said "How? Even with guns it would be useless". We both shrugged and I continued to photograph.
The villagers of Joujouka have a unique heritage....
There is a strong community in Joujouka. The people understand that their heritage is important. This has nothing to do with western influence or interest. They know that they want to keep their traditions and culture alive in their community. They have every right to do that.
Their spiritual music is legendary; can you give me some background on the musician's beliefs and traditions?
There are seemingly overlapping traditions in Joujouka. The village celebrates the rites of Boujeloud on the first full moon after the Aid El Kebir. Boujeloud is a half-goat half-man figure that equates with ancient worship of Pan around the Mediterranean. Like Pan, Boujeloud symbolises fertility in springtime. The music that accompanies the ritual is the most ferocious music played by the Master Musicians of Joujouka. It is the most ancient in their repertoire. It first soothes and then repels the beast from the village. All who have been visited by Boujeloud are fertile and their crops are bountiful. Dancing to his music brings good health.
I think we have so much to learn from these cultures whose ancient belief systems have remained intact and unsullied....
The second aspect of the spirituality of the village is the reverence for the Sufi saints buried there. Sidi Ahmed Scheich, the Cultivator with Lions and Healer of Crazy Minds, is credited with founding Joujouka. Having wandered from Persia in the 860s AD he and his seven companions encountered a tribe of musicians in the Ahl Srif Djebel. Hearing them play the saint felt their music was useful. He wrote music for them with a spiritual intent; to calm and cure ailments of the mind and to promote peace and harmony. Sidi Ahmed drew a line in the sand in Joujouka: those who follow his path, remaining on his side of the line may reap bountiful rewards and fertility, those who are outside the line can find no happiness in Joujouka.
Sidi Ahmed Scheich has, as you say, an influential place as the founder and guardian of Joujouka....
Joujouka is the country of Sidi Ahmed Scheich. When I first visited with Hamri we would always bring extra supplies to send to his sanctuary and to the mosque. Hamri was a great believer in the Baraka or blessing of Sidi Ahmed Scheich. He felt that the whole area was governed by his spirit including the music. The musicians believe this also. Another Sufi saint in Joujouka is Sidi Ghara whose sanctuary in an olive grove on the hill leading to the village. Visiting his tomb cures back pains and aids the chest. This is another Sufi tradition.
Let's talk about Hamri. What role did he have in the village of Joujouka?
He was from the village and was moved away as a child to the nearest town Ksar El Kebir. His family have always been in Joujouka, to this very day. Hamri invented what is now marketed in the West as both The Master Musicians of Joujouka and the breakaway Master Musicians of Jajouka featuring Bachir Attar. Hamri, a boy from the village, got street wise. When he returned and found the musicians, his cousins and uncles hungry, he took them on the trains to play and collect money. He organised them. In 1953, with Brion Gysin (painter and inventor of the Cut -up Method used by William S. Burroughs) he founded the 1001 Night restaurant in Tangier which employed the musicians in shifts of fifteen at a time to play two week stints there and then return to the village. This alone sustained the village for nearly ten years. Later Hamri brought William Burroughs to Joujouka and later again Brian Jones visited. After his initial introduction to Joujouka, Jones pledged money which was used to build a musicians headquarters and to buy them new outfits. When Jones returned in 1968 he recorded Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka.
Photo: Brion Gysin Algeria 1956 credit John Cooke
Photo: Brion Gysin Algeria 1956 credit John Cooke
His work in the village has a potent and significant legacy.........
These were some of the results of Hamri's work with Joujouka for the twenty years from 1948 -1968. Later still he brought Timothy Leary when Leary was on the run from the Feds. Leary wrote about his visit in his book Jail Notes. The essay is called "The four thousand year old rock'n'roll band". In 1973 Hamri brought Ornette Coleman to record with the musicians, some of the results of this are on Dancing in My Head. The same year he worked on what became the 1974 release Master Musicians of Jajouka. This was the first use of that spelling for the musicians. This came about as the producer had argued with Hamri and sought to cut him and the musicians' association out of the proceeds of the record. Later, having lived in the USA for a few years, Hamri returned in time to save the musicians from being written out of their own history.
He was a great artist, I have been fortunate to see some of his work, and it really has an amazing quality, an earthy reality...............
Burroughs said of Hamri's painting "The Djinnoun spirits ripple and frolic through Hamri's paintings". He was a remarkable artist who could combine in his paintings the ordinary people of Morocco, the landscape and cityscapes with the subtle magic of daily Moroccan life. Hamri's paintings are among the most sought after in Morocco at the moment. He was a great artist. The musicians fully appreciate this as does the entire village. Without Hamri the music would never have been known outside of the mountains!!! Hamri was a great painter and raconteur, his vision of Joujouka as he expressed to Brion Gysin, Paul Bowles, William Burroughs and Robert Palmer is the accepted view…the legends about the village are all from Hamri's mouth and later published in his book Tales of Joujouka (Santa Barbara, 1975).
He sadly passed away not so long ago, didn't he?
Hamri died in August 2000 in Joujouka after a long illness. He is revered in Joujouka. He brought fame and glory to the village. He sought to make sure that the people's culture would survive. He knew from the time he was a boy that the Master Musicians of Joujouka are special, their music is important and it must be saved in as pure a form as develops.
Tell me about the recordings you made out there....How did they come about?
Recording was Hamri's idea. My first contact with him came from the English writer Terry Wilson who did Brion Gysin's Here to Go book. When we were organising the Here to Go Show in 1992 it seemed appropriate that Gysin's first major collaborator, Hamri, should be involved. We invited him and I maintained phone contact. As I said Hamri felt the musicians should be present at the show. William Burroughs agreed and the funds necessary were arranged by the shows' sponsor Gordon Campbell.
You weren't recording straight away though Frank, were you?
In 1992, the Here to Go Show was filmed and later released as Destroy All Rational Thought. My recording for CDs began two years later when I finally got to Joujouka. Ira Cohen, the beat poet, photographer and filmmaker from New York had his CD out on Sub Rosa and it featured some of Gysin's 1960s Joujouka recordings as well as music from the Velvet Underground's first percussionist/drummer Angus MacAlise.
I didn't realise there was a line linking them to The Velvets....
Through Angus and Ira the music of Joujouka entered the world of the Velvets and Warhol. John Giorno who was also a Warhol collaborator came to Joujouka several times. In 1996 I was doing the Festimad Poetics festival in Madrid with Hamri. John Cale and John Giorno were was also on the bill along with Richard Hell, Lydia Lunch and Tav Falco. The reunion between Hamri and Giorno was very moving. Hamri was in tears. I don't think they had met since the early 70s. It is important to remember, the Rolling Stones and the Beats aside, that Hamri and Gysin connected the Master Musicians of Joujouka into another important art movement of the 20th century, the Pop Art scene of Andy Warhol. This occurred before Brian Jones arrived in Joujouka. Of course Anita Pallenberg was also part of the Warhol scene before she was part of the Stones set.
The historical context to Joujouka just blows me away..........
Sub Rosa had Burroughs' recordings of The Master Musicians of Joujouka music out on his Breakthrough in Grey Room CD. They seemed the perfect label for authentic Master Musicians of Joujouka recordings. I contacted them and they wanted a disc. This put some pressure on me as I was now not just visiting my friends from the Here to Go Show but was also supposed to record their new CD.
What experience did you have of recording, especially a live band that uses traditional instruments?
Being Irish I always knew folk music. My father comes from an area of Co. Clare famous for its superb traditional musicians. I found it easy to approach Joujouka music with that knowledge of my own traditions.
You were involved as an artist in the rock' n' roll world for a number of years, did that put you in the groove for recording later on?
In terms of experience I did my first radio session with a rockabilly band Those Handsome Devils for Ireland's John Peel, Dave Fanning, in 1984. Later my band The Baby Snakes were produced by Paul Thomas, who worked with Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and who engineered the first three U2 albums. In London I worked with Dave Goodman who produced the Sex Pistols Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle. In the few years before the Here to Go Show I had been working on, of all things, Johnny Cash. When my drummer Nigel Preston (co-founder The Cult, ex-Theatre of Hate, Sex Gang Children and The Gun Club) got arrested in 1990 I decided that the band would play only Johnny Cash songs until he got out. That was a year and a half later. In the meantime "The Baby Snakes play the songs of Johnny Cash" became a hot show in London. Johnny Cash himself met us after we sent him some recordings. He said "Hi I'm Johnny Cash I like the way you boys do my songs". We talked for twenty minutes before the show and we got front row seats and a song dedicated by Johnny to the band…….. Get Rhythm as I recall. That was 1991.
Did you have a recording technique you used in Joujouka?
We did so many sessions for the local BBC Greater London Radio that the engineers took a shine to us, especially after we met Cash. I asked them "How do we get the Sun Records' sound?" and in informal ............
...................all-night sessions we tried. A mono mike or three in the centre and recording live to master tape was the answer. Positioning and the performance were all that counted then, no mixing.
Ok, so we now have got the Beat Writers, that whole scene of artists and hipsters, The Rolling Stones, Ornette Coleman, The Velvets and Pop Art via Johnny Cash, Thin Lizzy, The Sex Pistols, The Baby Snakes and BBC radio engineers improvising in the search of the Sun Records sound! The weird and wonderful journeys that lead to the spiritually deep North African music are evocative and beautiful................and, of course, like life, circular...........How did the sessions go?
In Joujouka I was after a sound that preserved the folk music and had one eye on Sun Record's Sam Phillips work. After a few days I began to get the musicians and Hamri to listen to all the recordings on headsets. We discussed the dogs barking, spoon tapping
and other issues that were
evident on the tapes.
Field recordings, by default, have to include the country and the environment........
To an extent but I was looking for a pure sound that maintained the intimacy that I was experiencing and could be listened to on record over and over again. At first the musicians wanted me to sit in the centre of their tight group with the rhaitas or flutes on one side and the drums on the other. I experimented with many positions and over the weeks we got great moments on tape. They let me do what ever I wanted once they started to hear the results, and approved of them. This was a communal activity. Somehow they accepted me and they ignored the mike. I recorded on one stereo mike straight to master. Later I EQ'ed the tracks and did some slight things in post production with Vince DiCiccio engineering in London and the result of the first three months was Joujouka Blacks Eyes, released in 1995. I continued recording intensively on Sub Rosa projects for four years. Later I did work for the BBC World Service recording on their equipment in the village for the 2000 documentary Return to Joujouka.
That's a fantastic journey Frank , to get to an organic way of capturing such powerful music. How did you manage the language difference?
Hamri refused to translate fully for me saying "If you want to work with these people you must understand them. Know how to do things correctly". After ten days in Marrakech recording Gnoua musicians and getting fast track Arabic lessons, I returned to Joujouka able to say water, come, go, egg and chicken.
You since became involved as their manager, didn't you?
I have been with the musicians for fifteen years now and have seen their children grow up and the new ones arrive. Since Hamri's death his lessons have been well appreciated as I have had to bring the Masters to concerts outside Morocco, as well as record them and negotiate on their behalf and we understand each other and the issues. Hamri's first message was 100% accurate. In order to truly work for them it is necessary to understand the musicians and how they work both together as a group and, more importantly, in the wider community that they serve in their daily life in Morocco. Their trials and tribulations are real and matter to the music. The music is a healing music and also evokes the emotions of the musicians at the moment it is played. Hamri, Gysin and Burroughs thought it magic and they may well have been correct.
Were you able to meet and chat with some of the elders who may have remembered and played on the Brian Jones album?
Yes, of course. When I first got there many of the old masters were still alive and even the current leader Ahmed Attar, at the age of twelve, played with Jones when he was a dancing boy and apprentice drummer. I knew the Mujdoubi brothers Ali and Mujehid, who were between eighty and ninety years old, and then had free access to Berdouz (Mohamed El Attar) the leader of the drummers, the Boukhzar and Errtoubi families, Mohamed Mokhchan, and all the Attars including the off shoot families like the Jagdhals.
Family ties are intrinsically woven into the culture present in Joujouka, aren't they?
The Master Musicians of Joujouk photographed in 2005 by Frank Rynne
The Brian Jones recordings form part of the cultural heritage and inheritance of the village. The musicians living and dead who played on it mostly still have strong family connections in the village. I am often introduced to the sons and daughters of late great masters or former leaders of the Master Musicians who have returned to visit their families. The relatives of Mallim Fudal, Berdouz, Sherkin and of course Ahmed El Attar the current leader is son of Master piper Titi and is also the nephew of the late Hadj Abdelslam Attar, who was lead piper in the mid seventies and the father of Bachir Attar. El Hadj died twelve years before I got to Joujouka. The old generation were something…………strong uncompromising men with a great sense of humour. Berdouz loved sweets, I used to meet him in the village and he always wanted sweets. He had a demeanour like the Dalai Lama but less complicated. A beautiful soul. I have a painting Hamri did of Berdiouz in 1994 when I was there first. As the years went by, on each of my returns, I was greeted with the bad news of many musicians passing. Mohamed Mokchan is the oldest now at 76 years. The rest of the musicians are between the age of 45 and 65 but thankfully there are many young musicians too.
Who were the musicians on the albums you recorded and what did they play?
Ahmed El Attar drum and vocal
Mohamed El Attar lira and rhiata and vocals
Mustapha El Attar drum
Ahmed Bouhsini rhiata lira
Abdelslam Boukhzar drum vocal,
Abdelslam Errtoubi rhiata and lira
Mujehid Mujdoubi lira
Muinier Mujdoubi drum
Muckthar Jagdhal drum and vocal
Mohamed Mokhchan rhiata and lira
Abdelslam Dahnoun drum, rhiata, lira
Abdellah Ziyat Rhiata, lira, vocal
El Hadj clapping and vocal
Si Ahmed violin
There are more whose names escape me right this moment and of course Hamri sang on the song he wrote in honour of Brian Jones, "Brian Jones Joujouka Very Stoned" which is on the album Joujouka Black Eyes.
How do the Musicians teach and pass their skills on?
The music is part of life in the village so people learn the tunes very young. Playing the flute is a great way for a boy to pass the day when minding sheep. You can hear their attempts in the distance when in the higher mountains. Rhythm is for dancing to and at weddings and festivals the rhythm of Joujouka seeps into the consciousness of the young Joujouki from the feet up.
Not every Joujouki becomes a Master Musician though, what instruction do those who want to be one get?
Some are soldiers, shoemakers, shopkeepers and the rest. Hamri's brother is a weaver. If a musician wants to join the masters he gets his first instruction at home or develops natural ability. Later when the masters play together young musicians join them and get instruction from the collective group. It is a very organic and lifelong process. The skills needed to play the rhiata and do circular breathing are learned over years. Likewise the complex rhythms must be learned. The repertoire of the village forces the younger musicians to learn different skills when playing the different types of Sufi music and Boujeloud. Even the old musicians discuss aspects of each others performances. Each has his own recognisable signature.
Are you still recording in Joujouka?
I still record music but I have recently been filming again in the village. Last year I began work on a DVD project when Billy Corgan came down with me. Maki Kita, who is a talented Japanese visual artist, filmed their Porto show and I have several things being filmed right now in Morocco. The DVD will be on Sub Rosa's new film label and will show the real life of the musicians and their work in Morocco as well as abroad. The next recording project will be on a grander scale than my early field work but it will be recorded in the village.
You told me about a new guest house that should be ready for the Festival in Joujouka at the beginning of August. What stage is the building at?
The new guest house being built by The Master Musicians of Joujouka will be opened on 1 August as part of the four day Festival Sidi Ahmed Scheich de Zahjouka. It is a small traditional Joujouka house. It has a garden with olive trees. The musicians have long needed a new headquarters and a place to let guests stay. This is a great local initiative. Every year people show up randomly in the village often at dusk and the people have to scrabble around to try and put them up, children get moved around to free rooms up for the unexpected guests. The guest house will allow the musicians to put up visitors and take bookings from small groups for short breaks in the village.
Tell me more about the Festival.
The Festival Sidi Ahmed Scheich de Zahjouka is now in its sixth year. It hosts readings, discussions on culture and the arts, discussions on the local co-operative movements and helps bring attention to the folk arts like weaving, baking and of course The Master Musicians of Joujouka play each night. The local co-operative in Joujouka employs many women in traditional arts and is a great initiative for the area. Cash jobs for the women in the mountains are rare so this is important as it may help some women stay in the mountains rather than seek a livelihood in the nearby towns of Ksar El Kebir, Larache or Tangier.
The Festival and the guest house are both very important for the village to survive. How will the guest house be booked?
Anyone who wants to go should email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be forwarded to a local who speaks French and English. They will take their bookings, arrange to meet them and bring them to the village if necessary. Visitors will experience a unique Morocco with the Master Musicians of Joujouka in an ethical and sustainable way. All money will be paid directly to the musicians.
From a Europeans point of view, how much of the village of Joujouka is able to continue with its traditions and not bow to outside influences?
Much abides, but like everywhere in the world, the rush towards mobile phones, TV, and DVD is unavoidable. "Japanese shit" Hamri called it. However there are tribal traditions that survive all this. People from Joujouka have to have the Masters play at their weddings and festivals. August and September are very busy months for the Masters as many people return to the mountains to get married. The musicians hardly sleep all month.
And what of local crafts and diet?
The diet in Joujouka is generally home produced and the olive oil is second to none. In a world where people pay premium for organic, Joujouka is and always has been organic. The food tastes great. The people know about the quality of food. However the price of some local items is quite high. Very good mountain honey can cost $20 a litre in the village. It is used medicinally. Manufactured plastic goods are a big problem and threat to local crafts. The weaving of mats and rugs, blankets and traditional high quality wool has been affected by cheap Chinese plastic versions. I think that the Master Musicians of today are very firm in what they want to preserve in their culture but they know that the only way to keep young people active in the arts is for them to have a credible income from their work.
Boualem Hamri, brother of Hamri and friend of Brion Gysin weaving in Joujouka/Jajouka 2007. by Frank Rynne
And how far has the village embraced the 21st century?
In the last few years electricity has reached Joujouka. Therefore the people have light and some have TVs and DVDs. The mobile phone has also arrived; indeed Joujouka has a large mast. The musicians have all seen the internet and see their Myspace and website when they visit Ksar El Kebir. The young people learn French in school which is a big development there. The road has been paved and is no longer in danger of being washed away with every rain. This means Joujouka has a taxi service linking it with Ksar El Kebir. These are recent developments and it is unclear how much the change will be. I think it will influence the children more but they still grow up in those remote hills. That in itself has a balancing effect.
And there we bring the interview to an end. That was a fascinating and incredible story Frank, thank you for telling it..............There is much to deliberate and meditate on. This music, culture and spirituality, has incredible historical connections, resonance and power. I cannot overstate how much so.
To hear the albums Frank talks about buy them from their online shophere.
The Master Musicians have a website as well as a myspace page, where there is lots more information.
Master Musicians of Joujouka links
Master Musicians of Joujouka on Myspace
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