If you love Moroccan Gnawa music, which you should, you’re probably going to enjoy this track, “Mystic Molay,” a tribute to the Sufi teacher Molay Abdelkader Jilani. The track is the lead single off a new record from veteran DJ/producer Nickodemus, and it features New York-based Gnawa master (maâlem) Hassan Ben Jaafer and his group Innov Gnawa, who have been making waves locally and nationally with their deep roots music. They even recently recorded and performed with British DJ and producer Bonobo. Nicodemus’ new track rides that wave:
“Mystic Molay” opens with a driving snare drum pattern and swinging claps, before the unmistakable sound of Maâlem Hassan Ben Jaafer’s melancholy voice and rolling two-string sintir/gimbri bass lines and melodies. Halfway through, the track breaks down, leaving a single violin melody. Nickodemus builds the music back up from there, adding elements until the full Gnawa groove returns, supported by a simple drum-set pattern, a four-on-the-floor kick and backbeat.
The single release includes two remixes: a clubby, house-tinged reworking by Aroop Roy, and a nice gimbri-centric mix from Umoja, that focuses on Ben Jaafer’s voice and makes great use of the krakeb or qarqaba metal castanets.
Look out for Nickodemus’ record, out October 2017 on Wonderwheel Recordings, and be sure to catch Innov Gnawa live in New York this summer, even this Fri., June 2, at National Sawdust with Tigue and Underground System.