In the middle of Essaouira’s Medina, synergies shivered when electronic music met traditional Gnawa rhythm.
As the sun rises, the talking bird whistles a welcome. The rays pass through the calligraphic window, shining its light on the colourful tile work of a beautiful Riad in Essaouira. After savouring some morning Moroccan delights, we head to the Medina. It is a typical Moroccan morning. A small low foggy breeze in between the narrow streets. Our attention is focused on a peculiar moment. On the look out for sounds giving clues that shall reveal the city’s biggest secret. Its heart, its soul.
We walk up to the Scala of the Kasbah, the smashing Atlantic waves on the exceptional 18th century fortified town submerges the morning silence. The city starts revealing itself. Seagulls by the thousands looking for the next fish to catch, fisherman coming back from their early expedition, merchants setting up.
The harbour slowly awakens.
The golden hour ascends, Maalem Omar Hayatt welcomes us with open arms in the sacred rehearsal place of Yerma. We sit down around a humble silver Moroccan coffee table. Grilled sardines and cooked red snapper. Our hands become our useful instruments to eat and communicate.
As the distance between the pouring tea and the cup increases, the Gnawa ‘s perpetuators unfold the story. Rooted in African rituals, the rhythm of heavy shackles blended with the voice of reason, where the Maalem chant the freedom of suffering.
The Iman of Essaouira whispers that previous Maalems were rehearsing in this place, some are even buried just underneath us. As the sentence finishes itself, the atmosphere fills with sacred mystics and energy.
The moon rises over the white Minaret, we stand up from the contrasting turquoise and red pattern carpet. Omar picks up the three strings Guembri, Ahmed and Khalid slip on steel crotales.
The last settings on the synthesizer, saxophone mouthpiece twisted and the drum machine is plugged.
In the middle of Essaouira’s Medina, synergies shivered when electronic music met traditional Gnawa’s rhythm.