Cheb Runner – Tagnawit (Rebel Up Records)


Cheb Runner is Belgian-Moroccan DJ and producer Reda Senhaji, also known via the exotic bass music of Gan Gah. The son of a Morrocan Gnawa player, Cheb Runner asks what happens if two trance traditions from different worlds collide. This is Gnawa club music featuring Belgian based Gnawa singers Mâalem Driss Filali and Mâalem Hicham Bilali. It uses solely electronic sounds, borrowing from house, electro and trance, though utilises Gnawa rhythms, time signatures and tempos, substituting the garagab (castanets) and for drum machines. You could draw a link to Acid Arab in Senhaji’s attempts to fuse ancient traditions with club music and like the French duo its similarly successful. It’s amazing how well the relentless cadence of the garagab translate to electronic hi hats, and then you add some squelching acid lines and it’s near ecstatic bliss. This four track EP feels like a taster. A statement of intent. Others have fused electronics with Gnawa music, James Holden’s excellent collaboration with Maalem Houssam Guinia, or on a weirder bent, Fawda Trio ft. SwamiMillion’s Road to Essaouira, which saw the Italian outfit collaborate with numerous Moroccan artists. Yet with Tagnawit the fusion is more contained because its coming from within. This isn’t two worlds coming together, its one person expressing two sides of his musical personality.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.