Jilala Sufi trance from Morocco recorded by Brion Gysin set for re-release

Jilala LP cover

Jilala album originally released in 1966 to be reissued by Rogue Frequency Recordings.

Recordings of Moroccan Sufi trance musicians in Tangier by Brion Gysin are to be reissued in a limited pressing of 300 LP copies by Rogue Frequency Recordings.

The Jilala album will be released by Rogue Frequency Recordings in a limited edition of 300 LPs on 26th February 2021.

Brion Gysin collaborated with Paul Bowles to record the Jilala Brotherhood in 1964 – with the tracks later released on an LP in 1966 on Trance Records – the imprint of Ira Cohen, who also contributed liner notes to the release.

Cohen wrote: “The Jilala is an order of dervish musicians known for their practice of trance dancing and spiritual healing. They are called upon to exorcise evil spirits and to purify the heart. The Jilala are particularly useful in curing cases of epilepsy and hysteria, controlling the spirits or demons in possession of the subject through their music and the ritualized gestures of the dance. But mainly the dances are dances of exaltation.”

According to Cohen’s notes Side 1 and the last track on Side 2 were recorded by Brion Gysin on a portable Martel. The other selections were recorded by Paul Bowles on the Uher.

Statement from Rogue Frequency Recordings ahead of the release:

Until Now, Jilala has been a much sought-after phantom in relation to their better-known musical and spiritual contemporaries, The Master Musicians of Jajouka / Jououka. Culled from three and a half hours of 1965 recordings by writers/artists/poets Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles, the first batch of Jilala recordings were released on a 1965 LP that was scarce even upon its initial release. The second batch of Recordings, which this LP has drawn from, came in the form of a CD by Baraka Foundation in 1998, which is also now long out of print.

The Jilala brotherhood – like the better known Jajouka / Joujouka culture – has pre-Islamic roots in Sufi mysticism that span across northern Africa from Morocco to India. Jilala shares the kinds of small, portable instruments historically favored by nomadic cultures. Even among more ardent afficionados of “world music” these recordings have seldom been heard.

In the original liner notes Ira Cohen provides a breakdown of the Jilala ensemble: “The instruments used are the shebaba, a long transversal cane flute, which leads the way; the bendir, a handheld drum resembling a tambourine without cymbals; and the karkabat which is a double castanet made of metal. On this record there are usually three flutes, six drums and one pair of castanets.” In conjunction with the qraqaba — an iron analog to the wooden castanets featured heavily in the Flamenco music of the Roma people that also flourished over the centuries mere miles to the north in southern Spain.

These bendir drums provide a range very similar to that covered in contemporary popular music by the bass drum, snare, and cymbals that make up standard drum kit. The Trance-inducing grooves were major influences on such bands as Led Zeppelin, Agitation Free, Can and the Rolling Stones. The collective rhythms are often reminiscent of early hip-hop.


Brion Gysin listened to many forms of traditional music during his time Morocco, including the Master Musicians of Joujouka, of which he said: “I just want to hear that music for the rest of my life”.

While living in Tangier in the 1950s, Gysin opened the 1001 Nights restaurant in a wing of the Menebhi Palace in Tangier where a group of visiting Master Musicians of Joujouka played every night.

In 1968 he accompanied Brian Jones, lead guitarist and founding member of The Rolling Stones, to the village for recordings that resulted in the LP, Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Joujouka, released in 1971 on Rolling Stones Records. Gysin contributed liner notes to the LP.

Mohamed Targuisti was also involved in that visit and is credited with thanks on the original Jilala LP.

Ira Cohen continued his association with Moroccan Sufi trance when he participated with the Master Musicians of Joujouka at the Here To Go Show in 1992 – an exhibition celebrating the work of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin organised by Master Musicians of Joujouka manager Frank Rynne in Dublin – where he displayed his Mylar images and other work.

Brion Gysin, Mohamed Hamri and Mohamed Targuisti in Joujouka watching a performance by the Master Musicians of Joujouka
Ira Cohen photograph of the Master Musicians of Joujouka – Mohamed Mokhchan, Mohamed El Attar, Abdullah Ziyat and Abdesalam Dahnoun with Mohamed Hamri at the Temple Bar in Dublin, 1992

Monolithic Undertow – Exploring drone in a new book featuring the Master Musicians of Joujouka

Monolithic Undertow: In Search Of Sonic Oblivion by Harry Sword will be available on 4th February 2021 published by White Rabbit Books.

Monolithic Undertow, the first book of its kind to focus solely on drone, takes an in-depth look at the history and origins of the “mighty drone” and is available to pre-order now.

Master Musicians of Joujouka manager Frank Rynne and group leader Ahmed El Attar meet minimalist musician and composer Terry Riley (centre) on tour in Japan, November 2017

Master Musicians of Joujouka manager Frank Rynne was interviewed by the author about working with and recording the group over 25 years, the Musicians’ history and music.

The book also features The Beatles, Ravi Shankar, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Ash Ra Tempel, Melvins and Sunn O))), to name a few.

A statement from White Rabbit Books said: “Monolithic Undertow alights a crooked path across musical, religious and subcultural frontiers. It traces the line from ancient traditions to the modern underground, navigating archaeoacoustics, ringing feedback, chest plate sub-bass, avant-garde eccentricity, sound weaponry and fervent spiritualism. From Neolithic beginnings to bawdy medieval troubadours, Sufi mystics to Indian raga masters, cone shattering dubwise bass, Hawkwind’s Ladbroke Grove to the outer reaches of Faust and Ash Ra Tempel; the hash-fueled fug of The Theatre of Eternal Music to the cough syrup reverse hardcore of Melvins, seedy VHS hinterland of Electric Wizard, ritual amp worship of Earth and Sunn O))) and the many touch points in between, Monolithic Undertow explores the power of the drone – an audio carrier vessel capable of evoking womb like warmth or cavernous dread alike.”

The book is described by Beck as “An inspired and intuitive navigation of the drone continuum . . . with a compass firmly set to new and enlightening psychedelic truths.”

Read more via White Rabbit Books here

Pre-order your copy here

Master Musicians of Joujouka tour in Japan postponed

The Master Musicians of Joujouka with Boujeloud dancing at WWWX in Shibuya, Tokyo in November 2017

Following the postponement of the Master Musicians of Joujouka tour in Japan this year, Festival De Frue promoters have announced that the appearance would be rescheduled for 2021 or 2022.

The decision not to travel to Japan for the shows was due to ongoing uncertainty around the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Festival organisers announced that any ticket holders for the shows would be contacted with details of refunds, or to carry the tickets over to the rescheduled dates when confirmed.

The tour was set to see the Master Musicians of Joujouka return to Japan for the first time since 2017.

The Master Musicians of Joujouka were scheduled to appear with The Orb in a continuation of their collaboration debuted at last year’s Dior Cruise Show 2020 in Marrakesh.

Dates affected included scheduled appearances at Festival De Frue in Shizuoka 31st October to 1st November and a concert at WWWX in Shibuya, Tokyo on 3rd November.

Festival De Frue was able to go ahead with a line-up of artists from Japan.

A statement from Festival De Frue organisers said: “Festival De Frue 2020 will be held carefully, taking measures against infectious diseases in line with world standards, such as wearing masks, temperature measurement, disinfection, hand washing and calling and ingenuity to keep things from becoming dense. To do this it may only for artists living in Japan.”

The Master Musicians of Joujouka arrive at Shibuya in downtown Tokyo, November 2017
Master Musicians of Joujouka at WWWX venue in Shibuya, Tokyo

The Master Musicians of Joujouka would like to thank the promoters and everyone who had planned to see them play in Japan and look forward to seeing you at a later date when it is safe to travel.

Master Musicians of Joujouka at WWWX in 2017

For more information about the festival visit the Festival De Frue website