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.
ContentThis 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
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 !
MusicFor 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")
- Genre: Batar/Botor
02. Adaan Milkigaa Ahee ("I Am All Yours")
- Genre: Wiglo
03. Abidkaay Ammaan Ma Sheegin ("I Never Dish Out [Unjustified] Praise Words")
- Genre: Sharax, Saylici
04. Naga Tag! Kac! Hooyaa? ("Get Lost! Rise Up! Got It?")
- Genre: Geblo shimbir
05. Diinle Kabiiroow ("Diinle, The Great")
- Genre: Kabeebey
06. Hab I Soo Dheh ("Jump Into My Arms")
- Genre: Walasaqo
07. Haan Iyo Haruubkeed ("Water Container and Its Cover / Milk Vessel and Its Lid)
- Genre: Dhaanto
08. Waa Habeenkii Dhalashadaadee ("It's Your Birthnight")
- Genre: Saddexley
09. Kun Qof Iiga Roonoow ("More Valuable Than Thousand Persons")
- Genre: Niiko
10. Sabraayaa Sedkii Hela ("Patience Pays Off")
- Genre: Hirwo
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.