Gania, Maalem Mahmoud: Aicha LP
Hive Mind Records celebrate their tenth release by bringing the label full circle, right back where they started. They once again have worked with the Gania family of Essaouira to offer another reissue of the music of the undisputed King of Gnawa music, the late Maalem Mahmoud Gania. It feels like the perfect time to release this spiritual music, specifically played to heal and to cure us of our ills, as the world is in the grip of a viral pandemic and powerful forces seem to be polarizing people all around the globe. The label hopes that Aicha will enable you to carve out some healing space in amongst the chaos of the world. Aicha was previously released on cassette in Morocco only in the late 1990s. Maalem Mahmoud Gania was a particularly prolific artist recording for many labels in Morocco and many details about the recording of this particular album or the people involved are destined to remain a mystery. However, the album was recorded in the Gania's home town of Essaouira with only a small and intimate group of supporting musicians. The resulting album, after the dizzying intensity of the opening song, offers more relaxed, laidback interpretations of the Gnawa ritual repertoire, and a deeper, more gentle sound than Hive Mind Records' previous Gania release, Colours of the Night (2017). The album shines a light on Mahmoud's virtuoso guimbri playing and mastery of Gnawa songcraft, and is a standout amongst his many cassette releases. The album comes with extensive sleeve notes written by Tim Abdellah Fuson, Berkeley scholar and curator of the excellent Moroccan Tape Stash blog. First pressing of this release comes with a print of the album cover.