Fangnawa Experience, out November 13, 2012 on Strut Records, is a groundbreaking fusion of two distinct African musical styles: West African Afrobeat, and North African ceremonial Gnawa Music. Originally brought together by the forward-thinking Détours du Monde festival in Montpelier, French Afrobeat collective Fanga and Moroccan master musician Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa have found musical common ground on their performances and recordings together.
Performed primarily in Morocco and South-western Algeria, a traditional Gnawa ceremony re-creates the genesis of the universe, incorporating trance-inducing music, a clairvoyant, incense, and ecstatic dancing in a complicated liturgy. Gnawa music mixes classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, and in recent decades has begun to be performed outside of the traditional closed-door ceremonies, to the wider Moroccan public, and to global music audience at large.
Afrobeat as a genre was born out of fusion. Many in musical critical circles judge afrobeat projects based off the measuring stick of how well they are able to mimic Fela's Afrika 70 sound. I would put myself into that category when I first started writing about the music in the early 2000's, but I soon discovered that most artists seek to create their own sound and forge their own identity. Fanga is taking an immensely ambitious step forward in that direction.
Dig this short video about the project to get a taste. Then cop the album when it drops next week. If you like music that's unique, you won't want to miss out on this one.