We’re back on the road again. It’s a predictable pun considering the name of our new project, but fuck it.
After last year’s hiatus, we find ourselves in Bologna once more for our fourth production though this time we’re starting locally with the aim of finishing the production via a trip to Morocco. Road to Essaouira is easily the most ambitious project yet, and after two days it feels like it might not be such a crazy idea.
In a way the whole thing relied on a bit of a gamble: if the two music collectives – Fawda Trio and SwamiMillion – didn’t hit it off upon meeting for the first time in Bologna, the whole idea of taking them to Morocco to record an album before post-producing it in the UK and Italy would have had to be ditched. Thankfully it looks like the gamble is paying off, even though I’m not hugely surprised: we’ve been doing this for long enough now that we’ve honed our ability of choosing the right people to bring together for such projects.
The music for the show – which goes down Saturday – is shaping up very nicely. The guys hit the ground running almost instantly with a few hours of jamming, and spirits are high. For the first time there’s no live visual element to the show which means refocusing the energies we’d normally spend on that side of things towards the music and final show. It definitely feels good to be back, and after five years the whole engine of Original Cultures has become a fairly well oiled machine if I may say so myself.
The thing about Gnawa fusion is that it’s not something new, so the trick with this project is to find a spin on it that feels fresh. Fawda specialises in mutating Gnawa and other African traditions with what could be considered more of a traditional approach. SwamiMillion for their part are about as close as you get to the modern definition of a producer and musician, and hip hop plays a big part into their sound. Which logically lead me to think that perhaps a hip hop twist on the whole Gnawa fusion could work nicely as it’s not something I’ve heard done a lot (I haven’t googled it either mind). After two days it’s sounding like that at times but then the guys have also managed to channel the spirit of Sun Ra for one track so it’s not a clear cut thing either. The mix of hip hop grooves, and the hypnotic qualities of a good beat, with Gnawa’s trance inducing aspect works really well though. You find yourself bopping to a vibe for 15 minutes, loosing yourself inside the intricacies and layers of sound.
The vibe is right, that much is sure. Now to see what final shape the show on Saturday takes.