Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mixtape? No, Just An Ante-Up Anti-Tape


I can't manage to find the time to compile the mixtape I sort of promised here ages ago and time will be in even much shorter supply in the near future. As an attempt to redeem the 'debt', I share as is a mid-eighties cassette by Libaaxyada Maaweeliska Banaadir (Banaadir Entertainment Lions).

LMB was a popular theater troupe founded in the late 70s/early 80s by a group of veteran artists and fledgeling talents. The project was intended to integrate young and old, tradition and modernity - a sort of Scorsese/Levin's "Godfathers and Sons" avant la lettre... but here with the godmothers, daughters and grandchildren, too. Besides entertainment, LMB's main goal revolved around the preservation and dissemination of the performng arts heritage of Banaadir, the region comprising Mogadishu and its immediate surroundings. In their alas ephemeral existence, they produced about a dozen plays which were highly appreciated nationwide.

Content

This tape carries the soundtrack of the mid-80s play "Xiddigtii Is Xujeysay" ("The Self-Denouncing Star"). In that period, drama productions were staged in theaters and open stadia, and spread on VHS. The play/film scores were, however, rarely released apart on tape. Given the sonic flaws, this k7 is probably a bootleg recorded live outdoors by an audience member - Somalia's nr.1 hobby at the time... so to speak

Engaged tragi-comedy

The play was written by Faynuus Sheekh Daahir (right), a renowned theater actress and folk dancer. To the best of my knowledge, this is her only play. Nevertheless, if the material on this tape is anything to go by, she is apparently equally proficient in spinning poetic lyrics (and thought-provoking dialogues). Besides the title of the play, some tracks gladly betray the burlesque tragi-comedy tackled a number of socio-political issues as well. Songs like "Naga Tag! Kac! Hooyaa? ("Get Lost! Rise Up! Got It?") ) and "Abidkaay Ammaan Ma Sheegin" ("I Never Dish Out [Unjustified] Praise Words") must have flagellated the dictatorial heartbeat into higher and haunted spheres ...


Vocalists 

All the tracks are sung or poetically recited by Axmed Naaji Sacad, Maxamed Cabdow Saalim and mainly Faadumo Qaasim, a socio-politically and artistically brightly shining star since the 60s who sadly passed away  last year.  R.I.P !




Music

For each play LMB toured with a different orchestra, almost always consisting of traditional and modern instrumentalists. The musical direction of this piece was in the hands of the aforementioned multitalented Axmed Naaji Sacad whose great 70s band "Shareero" is playing the lead role.

The modern instruments are up front and I, for one, would be contented with less Hohner organ and more roars by the local instruments. The music and singing are, however, often based on the notes of time-honoured traditional poetry, dance and music genres.
In addition to the readily recognizable modern instruments, anyone who is familiar with Somali culture will also frequently detect in this tape and get tingled - from head to heels - by an impressive array of currently neglected traditional instruments.

Although sparsely used and often overwhelmed by the electric instruments, some local lions are still holding their own. Particularly the reeme (roaring drum), shagal (metal hoe-blades), shunuuf (vegetable ankle rattles), shambal (wooden clappers), malkad (flute) and sumaari (double clarinet) casually manage to swing to the forefront. These precious and endangered instruments are setting the pace by generating distinct rhythms and melodies (see genres under the tracks) to send a call to a group of colourfully clad folk dancers who respond with graciously intoxicating and sinuously serpentine movements... gently enticing the spectators (occasionally including yours truly) to the dance floor.

Those were the days...!


01. Soo Xarakoo ("Strut Out In Style")
- Summary: Put on your best suit, concot your magic elixir and present your (love)case
- Genre: Batar/Botor   

02. Adaan Milkigaa Ahee ("I Am All Yours") - Double entendre: (Denunciation of) Total submission to a spellbinding "suitor"
- Genre: Wiglo       

03. Abidkaay Ammaan Ma Sheegin ("I Never Dish Out [Unjustified] Praise Words") - Vocalists and instrumentalists exchange compliments while subtly emphasizing that gratuitous praise of the undeserving is nothing but self-deprecation
- Genre: Sharax, Saylici        

04. Naga Tag! Kac! Hooyaa? ("Get Lost! Rise Up! Got It?") - Leaves no room for imagination: The gun salvos, funeral processions, public rage... were in mid-80s Somalia not yet pervasive but they're already an essential and gruesome part of the tyrannical policies  and histrionics
- Genre: Geblo shimbir     

05. Diinle Kabiiroow ("Diinle, The Great") - Disappointment in and fury towards the clique that usurps the key to your love/life/rights and a complaint about the chief and his entourage who are greedy, pompous, unreasonable, unjust... and don't listen to the wise elders
- Genre: Kabeebey
- Video      

06. Hab I Soo Dheh ("Jump Into My Arms") - The tragedy of unrequited love: He's hopelessly in love and she's diligently rejecting him
- Genre: Walasaqo        

07. Haan Iyo Haruubkeed ("Water Container and Its Cover / Milk Vessel and Its Lid) - United we stand! The lovebirds are tired of waiting for the blessing of the self-appointed charg├ęs d'affaires and take matters into their own hands
- Genre: Dhaanto    

08. Waa Habeenkii Dhalashadaadee ("It's Your Birthnight") - Happy with the decision they made in the last track and the rebirth of their freedom
- Genre: Saddexley    

09. Kun Qof Iiga Roonoow ("More Valuable Than Thousand Persons") - Boundless love
- Genre: Niiko        

10. Sabraayaa Sedkii Hela ("Patience Pays Off") - Those who are made for each other (lovers, people and their sovereignty...) always find each other. The two halves become One, no matter how long it takes 
- Genre: Hirwo

Enjoy! 

PS. I'm not an expert and it's quite possible that my recognition of the multitude of Somali genres is, in some cases, off beat. Many genres ressemble each other and some are as deceptively similar as identical twins. Moreover, besides the traditional instruments I mentioned, I recognize others one can hear after careful listening. But I'm quite sure I miss a few others. For example, I can't remember/find the name of the fantastic balafon/vibraphone on mainly tracks 8 and 9. I'd appreciate any corrections and additional info.

PPS. I've the impression a couple of tracks are missing. Anyone?

PPPS. This entry is also published by the seminal African music blog "Likembe" where you can find more on Somali music.

11 comments:

  1. many thanks, man. we've been grooving to this the last days, what a treasure full of memories.Mahad badan naga guddoon

    I think Haan Iyo Haruubkeed is hoobaale, isn't it?

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  2. You're welcome! Hoobaale is imo a subgenre of Dhaanto, just like its siblings Wilwilo, Baloolay, Rable, Waalo, Baarcade etc. Hoobaale means "take it, Baale" and it's originally a sacrificial performance for the ancient Somali god "Baale" (The Winged).

    As you may know, every genre has several/many subgenres and I didn't want to venture into the complex substrata. Like all (sub)genres, Hoobaale itself has regional variations and in the first track on the vid. below (from 1:15) it even exudes international flavours. This is on the CD "Somali Party In Southall", a collaboration between Somali, Punjabi, Kenyan and Ugandan artists in London.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciWcbG60v8w

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    1. we young somalis in the diaspora know nothing about our culture. after having watched the beautiful video you linked to, i lingered on youtube and watched many more on somali genres. Amazing! an australian friend sent me a link to your blog and i'm glad i clicked on it. thanks a lot.

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  3. Thanks you very much for this great recording. Can you please upload more of Faadumo Qaasim? What an artist, I've just watched the video on youtube and it's from 1971. Unbelievable.

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    1. I've some of her tapes but the sound quality has deteriorated to the extent of being unlistenable I'll let you know if I ever find better quality records.

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  4. i've never heard somali music except k'naan. this just knocked my socks off musically and storywise. would you please share more of this band? thank you so much.

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    1. Several visitors mailed the same request. Unfortunately, the sound on the old tapes has often gone west but I'm planning to post sth. Stay tuned.

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  5. An amazing story. the same track is playing all over, a tech. problem? but i downloaded the album and its fucking splendid too. thanks.

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  6. could you link me to more wiglo songs or artists? i'd be forever grateful!

    thank you for educating those of us in the diaspora.

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    1. You're welcome! I'm not aware of bands specializing in wiglo or any other single genre. They all play/fuse many diff. genres and, off the top of my head,I can't find specific tracks. If you're in the USA, you may find some here: http://new.iucat.iu.edu/catalog?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=wiglo&search_field=all_fields&commit=search

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