Sunday, January 25, 2009

Brian Jones Presents: Pipes of Pan at Jajouka

Brian Jones Presents - Pipes of Pan at Jajouka
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If AC were a seminar, which it is, we would devote an entire week just to this record. Actually if there was any justice in this world, which there isn't, this record would be either the alpha or the omega of AC blog posts. But just like the world, which more often than not is a confused jumble of events lacking in both inaugurations and consummations, this record appears instead in media res. 
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Brian Jones was invited by Brion Gysin in 1968 to go to Jajouka, a small village in Morocco. There he made tapes of the local musicians, who have a highly localized musical tradition, going back thousands of years. Then he went back to England and studio manipulized them, adding serious dub effects, accidentally inventing the remix (not Puff Daddy). History is like that, very chancy. Like Manuel Goettsching, who helped to accidentally invent techno by recording E2-E4 in a single afternoon. 

Pipes of Pan is an extremely psychedelized field recording of deep moroccan bug-outs, and a mind-blower regardless of your musical attunement and/or general blown-mind skill level. 
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Tales of Grift: Music Hunted, Never Found #2

When I studied in Prague my friend Mike and I were obsessed with this record, in the way that young minds can ascribe certain things with talismanic intensity, and hold them close like blessed weapons in foreign lands.  At some point it became clear to us that with our fairly light course-loads we could fly to Morocco and spend a week there, with little academic consequence. Why my parents ever consented to this is still a mystery to me. Knowing the various fine messes and fool-headed quests that I myself have gotten into in my so-far short stay on this earth, I am going to lock up my children in a closet until they are eighteen. 

Mike and I flew to Morocco because we wanted to go to Jajouka. We never found anyone who recognized the name, which we were probably not pronouncing right. But like most griftorial adventures, it was the experiences along the way, while searching for the eternal Mecca of free noise-nerds, which remain eternal stars of my own soul's innermost constellation. Morocco is sensually overwhelming, a dreamworld in the desert, enveloped in hallucinations and secret symbols. Brion Gysin's "The Process" is the best book on the matter. 

We road a midnight bus from Casablanca to Marrakesh. In the back of the bus we gave two upper-snorting bootleg-hat wearing grifters a tape to play on their boombox, everyone head-nodding to "Shimmy Shimmy Yaw" in the desert darkness. We drank the freshest orange juice in the world. We brought tape recorders and recorded numerous street bands. At night the food stalls in Marrakesh would set up and we would sit and devour kebab, while steam from the grill rose in the hot air across a field of hanging lanterns. We explored Fez's labyrinthine medina. We rented bikes and rode them aimlessly. We both got the shits after the first and only time we ever ate in the French Quarter instead of the medina, although in hindsight it could have been because of the room-temperature yogurt we had earlier on the train. We took a taxi from the Meknes train station to Volubilis, a site of Roman ruins, the Westernmost tip of the Roman Empire, columns still standing in the African hills. Scorcese filmed "The Last Temptation of Christ" there, and George C. Scott walked on the stones as Patton, dreaming aloud of his past lives. We met Aziz, a young goatherd, while traversing a small hill behind the Fez medina, near a crashed car. We recorded all three of us throwing rocks at the car, then Aziz got inside and found some shoe polish and a bit of newspaper, and painted his goat-bone cane brown. Then we drum-circled on some car parts, Aziz having to tone things down for his two whitey bandmates. We gave him some stickers with fish on them. We stayed up all night in Rabat while waiting for the train back to Casablanca, drinking tea with a highly articulate, professorial grifter in a djellaba, who pontificated and seemed to have no place to go. Everywhere we asked for Jajouka. 


mrb said...

I'm really glad you wrote up this "tale of the grift" -- it's maybe one of my most told stories and certainly is amongst my fondest, most intense memories. We have to transfer those recordings one of these days.

Professor Genius said...

Thx for the pipes of pan.