1/  Toura Toura: The Nav Deep Remix                                          4.38
        Remixed by DJ Sandeep Kumar
  2/  Sadats: Les Dilles de Marrakech Remix                                    5.53
        Remixed by Fnaire
  3/  Alkher Illa Doffor: The Nectar Remix                                     5.36
        Remixed by Bassnectar
  4/  Jarat Fil Hub: The Chalice Remix                                         6.31
        Remixed by Yossi "Ex-Centric" Fine
  5/  Esh 'Dani, Alash Mshit: The Rai of Light Club Remix                      6.54
        Remixed by Temple of Sound
  6/  Sadats: The Sufi Sonic Remix                                             5.59
        Remixed by MoMo
  7/  All Al 'Hbab: The Hydrophobia Remix                                      5.40
        Remixed by Dar Beida 04
  8/  Toura Toura: The Medina Remix                                            5.36
        Remixed by The Chakadoons
  9/  Madh Assalhin: The Zen Breaks Remix                                      7.52
        Remixed by Makyo
  10/ Esh 'Dani, Alash Mshit: The Constantine Remix                            6.43
        Remixed by Bill Laswell
  11/ Im Ninalou: The Groovio Deep End Remix                                   6.07
        Remixed by Gaurav Raina (MIDIval Punditz)

          Original tracks recorded and engineered in Marrakesh, Moracco at Marrakech
            Prod Recording Studio by Wolfgang Funk
          Jemaa el Fna street sounds recorded by Matthieu Daude
          Original tracks ProTooled, Nuendoed, engineered, programmed by Gaurav
            Raina at Punditz Studios, New Delhi, India
          Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale and Richard Horowitz recorded at Orange Studio,
            New Jersey by Robert Musso, assisted by James Dellatacoma
          Added recordings at SF Soundworks engineered by Justin Lieberman, San
            Francisco, California
          Additional technical assistance by Bob "Bouba" Appel
          Track 2 remixed and arranged by Tahar El Idrissi
          Track 9 produced by Gio
          Compilation Produced by Cheb i Sabbah
          Mastered by Kris Solem at Future Disc, Hollywood, CA
ORIGNAL TRACKS: Cheb i Sabbah: sound sculptures; Bill Laswell: bass; (5,10) Cheba Zahouania : voice; Ouled Ben Aguida: chorus; Othmane Assi: oud; Gibril Bennani: violin; Brahim Elbelkani: Gnawa guimbri; B'Net Marrakech: voices, derbouka, bendirs, tabsel; Farid Hamidat: derbouka; Mokhtar "Kamy" Gaid: keyboards; (2,6) "Aziza" Malika Ait-Zouin: lead voice, oud; Halima Chamkhi, Fatima Bakkou and Fatimah Malih: voices, percussion; Brahim Elbelkani: Gnawa guimbri; (1,8) Brahim Elbelkani: Gnawa Guimbri, voice; Khadija Lilich, Atika Lilich and Zahira Elbelkani: chorus; Ismail Elbelkani and Mohamed Naim: qarqabas, handclaps; (7) Cheikhate Hafida Houane and Cheikhate Mina Houni: voices, taarija; Bouchaib Benchilih: violin, voice; Miloud El Hilali: oud, voice; Boujemaa Benchlih: derbouka, voice; Mostafa Houkaki: bendir, voice; (9) Lala Kaboura Ben Faraji: lead voice, tabla; Fatma Khalef, Tarjma Khadouj, Fatema Legrem and Zoubida Azzarkaouia: voices, bendirs, tryer; (3) Khadija Othmani: tinde drum, voice; Dassin Nori, Zhora Thameur and Malika Ali Chali: voices; Baly Othmani and Brahim Naimi: drums; (11) Michal Cohen: voices; (4) Nadia: voice; Gibril Bennani: voilin; Othmane Assi: oud, chorus; M'Hammed Kahkahni: derbouka, riq, chorus; Mustapha Ramadan: qanun; Richard Horowitz: nay (3,11), keyboards (3,11); Karsh Kale: keyboards (1,8), drums (9); Mercan Dede: nay (9); Rufus Cappadocia: cello (11); Bouchaib Abdelhadi (except 4) : bendir, derbouka, tar, qarqabas, handclaps, added vocals (9); Gaurav Raina: keyboards (3,4,5,6,10,11). ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS (REMIXES): (2) Farid Nainia: additional arrangement; Tahar El Idrissi: guembri; Lahcen Lahbib: technical support; (8) Alex Stiff: guitar, bass, additional programming; Marc Cazorla: Fender Rhoades, additional production.
          2006 - Six Degrees Records (USA), 657036 1126-2 (CD)


After his groundbreaking South Asian classical tradition-meets-DJ technology trilogy of Shri Durga, Maha Maya and Krishna Lila, Cheb i Sabbah looked North Africa-ward to Morocco and Algeria to came up with the mesmerizing La Kahena, firmly re-cementing his position as the reigning Guru of World Electronica™. The LP was full of groove-rich Gnawa and Berber sounds, ripe for remix plundering.

Anyone who has witnessed the dance-fest that is Sabbah on the decks will know how much Bhangra is a part of his set - he often jokes of being Punjabi in a former life. While in Vienna at the tail end of 2005, he told me about one of his current favorite DJs, Sandeep Kumar out of the US West Coast, whose remix of "Toura Toura" is a full-fledged Morocco-meets-Punjab club banger. Moroccan rap group Fnaire takes the swinging "Sadats" and gives it a proper hip-hop groove. An intense exchange of verses underlined by glossy and sharp synth patterns clearly "borrowed" from Pharrell and Chad updates the already excellent original from La Kahena. Moroccan-born London transplants MoMo deliver a sonically different but equally stunning remix of "Sadats" which strips the original to its bare elements, turns up the hypnotic string plucking and then three quarters of the way through sends the track spiraling into a clubby, psy-trance outro.

Bassnectar's remix of "Alkher Illa Doffor" offers up more of the dub and acid-heavy basslines that made his Mesmerizing The Ultra such a favorite 'round these parts. Clearly his affinity for twisted and innovative soundscapes hasn't changed one bit since MTU and that's something we're quite thankful for. While the original had some serious basslines of its own, Bassnectar manages to send a clear message - this is Cheb I Sabbah like you've never heard him before or ever will again.

Yossi Fine (Ex-centric Soundsystem) lends his production skills to the spacey "Chalice Remix" which subtly intertwines "Toura Toura" and vocals from "Jarat Fil Hub" by Nadia. A heavily accented chanting of "Algérie, San Francisco" (a reference to both Sabbah's birthplace and current home) marks the start of the techno-infused "Esh 'Dani, Alash Mshit: The Rai of Light Club Remix" by Transglobal Underground alumni, Temple of Sound. On the flip side of the same coin is Bill Laswell's dub-centric reworking titled "The Constantine Remix," which only adds light textures to the original.

Makyo tweaks "Madh Assalhin" using his now instantly recognizable Dakini Zen-Dub effects. Ambient electronic bleeps and clicks recast the original spiritual paean into a futuristic ode to the trance gods. Groovio, better known as Gaurav Raina of the MIDIval PunditZ, concludes La Ghriba with his take on "Im Ninalou." The percussion friendly remix takes some of the frantic-ness off the original, slowing the groove down just enough to make you realize just how at ease the PunditZ are with Middle Eastern arrangements as they are with hard South Asian breakbeats that they've come to be known for.

Listening to La Kahena and now its successor, La Ghriba, it is evident that Cheb i Sabbah and his cohorts have taken the true trance qualities of Gnawa and Berber music and redesigned them into electronically enhanced gems that still have the same intended effect on the listener.

sreekanth (courtesy of the Ethno Techno website)


While modern East-West fusion artists like Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale and Midival Punditz have staked their claim by grafting the classical flourishes of their respective cultures onto electronic melodies and beats, a veteran like Cheb i Sabbah has tried to avoid the trappings of the digital age in his own work, instead relying on pure manual instrumentation (through tablas, oud and sitar) to create his trance-inducing grooves.

But even with his antiquated, time-honored strategy towards music-making, Algerian native/current San Franciscan Cheb isn't oblivious to the club-friendly sounds of today, which is why he's been so open to the remix treatment since signing on with Six Degrees in the late '90s. La Ghriba, the remix accompaniment to La Kahena, Sabbah's third proper record for the label, is another solid testament to this. Enlisting the services of established producers (Bill Laswell) and under-the-radar talent (LA-based DJ Sandeep Kumar), Sabbah's objective with this release was to seemingly not only revisit his North African roots, but add some fresh young ears to the project for that "current" touch.

Sabbah seems to have achieved both goals. Kumar's bubbling, bhangra-laden take on "Toura Toura" kicks off the proceedings in energetic fashion, segueing into a tribal/hip-hop redo of "Sadats" courtesy of Moroccan troupe Fnaire, which dips down into Bassnectar's sub-rattling, crunk-flavored rework of "Alkher Illa Doffor."

With the dance floor set appeased, La Ghriba then makes room for more experimental, involving fare, from Yossi "Ex-Centric" Fine's carnival-esque, belly dance sway on "Jarat Fil Hub" to MoMo's techno overhaul of "Sadats" and Laswell's inimitable dub installations on "Esh 'Dani, Alash Mshit."

Since compilation series like Putumayo and Buddha Bar have made world beat --let alone any musical styling east of Europe-- safe for consumption in day spas and Barnes and Nobles, perhaps it's easier for some of the patrons to overlook the deep, enriching sonic webs threading ancient Arabic, Indian and African rhythms with the Pro Tools-devoted culture of today.

With one ear towards the street, and the rest of his focus on the rarefied sounds of his past, Cheb i Sabbah can hopefully ensure they won't miss this intoxicating meld again.

Kiran Aditham (courtesy of the Ink 19 website)