What at first glance sounds like slightly modified traditional pan-African music carries a deeper meaning and technique that is an integral part of its making, understanding, and appreciation.
Ancient North African Music meets deep TR-808 to create a unique noise rooted in tradition and reaching for the future. After working with Bargou 08, AMMAR 808 started a project in 2017 that aimed to link the past to the future. THis message is conveyed in the way that the produced music blurs the line between traditional and modern, maintaining the essence of pan-African music while using new available tools to modify it to something different, but still the same. Sofyann Ben Youssef under the name AMMAR 808 started on a solo project that produced “Maghreb United”. Featuring the singers Mehdi Nassouli (Morocco), Sofiane Saidi (Algeria) and Cheb Hassen Tej (Tunisia) as vocalists, the album portrays the electronic Maghreb voice. The name of this album conveys what is meant to be achieved by this music, which is to bring together the once united Maghreb region under similarities, while still acknowledging differences, and merge instruments, voices, and the new world with what once was.
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The vocals in the music, the vocals in the music originate from the Targ, Gnawa, and Raï histories, tell the stories of the past, of similarities and divides created within the region. Within the music a sense of togetherness starts to be created in similar pasts and cultures that should not be ignored. When juxtaposed with the TR-808 and new sounds of electronics, that symbolises the new world and the future, a narrative begins to emerge of taking the past with us into the future, a narrative that is made stronger with the solid foundations of culture and heritage, while welcoming change and modification with them in mind.
The beat, though modified, carries pan-African tones through danceable and familiar sounds while bringing something interesting and new to the table, making an already rhythmic music stronger and more structured. Often beginning with the traditional noise that is slowly built on and developed to allow the rich culture to shine thorugh. The traditional music that AMMAR 808 builds on lends itself to layering in a way that fits perfectly into what is being done to it. In essence the structure and delivery itself was built, though without electronic music and modifications in mind, as a strong foundation for the developments made to it. This carries on in line with what is meant to be shown with the music; connecting the past with the future, and showing how it is very much not only possible, but can also create something better than what was once possible.
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