Inspired by the aesthetic of the intrepid recordists at film and record label Sublime Frequencies, Saharan Frequencies series explores the sounds of North Africa as captured by two of the label’s key directors Hisham Mayet and Olivia Wyatt and their influences. Presented in conjunction with Mic Check on BAM’s mainstage.
“The entraining beats and politically engaged music of famed Moroccan quintet Nass El Ghiwane is the subject of director Ahmed El Maanouni’s 1981 concert-doc Trances, which opens BAMcinématek’s three-Monday Saharan Frequencies series dedicated to the music of North Africa. The film has been restored by the World Cinema Foundation at the behest of Martin Scorsese, whose Last Temptation of Christ it influenced. Nass El Ghiwane’s immense popularity also permeates Hisham Mayet’s Musical Brotherhoods From the Trans-Saharan Highway, a 2008 look at the spectacular traditional and contemporary ensembles kicking out their sacred jams night after night in Marrakech’s crowded, colorful, and fragrant Jemaa Al Fna square. Past and present dovetail dynamically in the two films, which will be discussed by Mayet and music journalist Byron Coley following Brotherhoods’s screening.” — By Richard Gehr