Voix Du Maghreb

17/12/2020Québec-based Imprint Gharamophone Releases 10-Track Compilation Of Judeo-Arabic Shellac Recordings (1930-1956)

On this last day of Hanukkah, we thought it befitting to share the latest digital release of Chris Silver's Montreal-based Gharamophone (gharam (غرام) meaning  "love," "passion," and "infatuation") imprint, "dedicated to preserving North Africa's Jewish musical past, one record at a time." And that is quite literally what the compilation achieves in astounding fashion, complete with bagpipes (mizwid), birdsong and that charming yet unrelenting crackle of the original shellac records.

"Although all of the musicians on this compilation are Jews–a testament to their outsized role in the production of Arabic music in the first half of the twentieth century–it should be made clear that their output was always regarded as 'Arab' rather than as 'Judeo-Arabic.' In this way, North Africa’s musical past reminds of what is sometimes easily forgotten: of Jewish-Muslim identities not opposed or hyphenated but intertwined."

"Glimpses of North Africa's Musical Past: 1930-1956" is a thrilling ten-track journey back in time, spanning three decades and countries, i.e. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and featuring "some of the most renowned male and female artists of the era," the likes of Algerian vocalist/mandolinist Alfred Lebrati, alias Sassi, Tunisian singer Ratiba Chamia, iconic Algerian Salim Halali or celebrated Tunisian chanteuse Louisa Tounsia (pictured).

We thoroughly enjoyed the listen, looking up the individual artists as their songs filled our home office airspace with a certain nostalgic longing, a Maghrebi daydream of sorts, like watching a theatre performance from another dimension.

You can stream/buy the full release via Bandcamp. Rest assured, if you would like to contribute, we might get to hear more of these invaluable aural artifacts. Now go light those candles.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom