Music of Morocco

In the 1950s, American expat composer/novelist Paul Bowles was practically a mythical figure. Partly due to Bowles’ residency there, Tangier, Morocco, drew Beat writers, painters and Shangri-La-seeking hippies to the Medina outskirts for majoun visions and kief spliffs for decades. Among Bowles’ many great accomplishments, perhaps his most triumphant was the extended field recordings he conducted under the auspices of the Library of Congress in 1959. Over four separate trips to 23 different remote locations in Morocco, far from the buzz of his beloved Tangier, Bowles recorded vocal and instrumental wonders from heretofore unheard North African indigenous tribes. The Music of Morocco box set is sprawling, consisting of four CDs, and a 120-page, foil-stamped leatherette book with extensive liner notes by Philip Schuyler, field notes by Bowles and an introduction by Lee Ranaldo. Trance-inducing repetition fuels bewitching pieces like “Qim Rhori,” a 13-minute tribal psych mind-meld, and the Arabic chant “Qsida dial Malik.” Essential listening.