Wallahi Le Zein!: Wezin, Jakwar and Guitar Boogie from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania LP
Wallahi Le Zein!
Chicago: Mississippi Records, 2021.
New, unsealed as arrived from label.
Originally released as a double CD in 2010, Wallahi Le Zein! has persisted as a cult classic, a collection of a rarely heard and utterly unique underground music scene, raw and unfiltered.
The LP, cassette & digital version we now present is intended as an immersive entry into this music: gnarled and virtuosic electric guitars weave hypnotically throughout melismatic sung poetry and exclamations, pulsing hand drums, party chatter, buzzing rigged desert sound systems, and all manner of the ambient sounds of Nouakchott wedded to oversaturated cassette in all its swirling, breathing, psychedelic glory. Operating entirely outside of any local recording industry, these songs were collected from bootleg tape stalls, wedding souveniers, and networks of musicians, expertly curated, researched and produced by Matthew Lavoie.
Drawing from the deep well of Mauritanian classical music, the gamut of musical modes and the tidinitt lute repertoire are transposed to the electric guitar - often with frets removed or additional frets installed, “heavy metal” distortion pedals and phasers built into guitar bodies, blurring the lines between Haratine and Beydane musical cultures, the ancient and the futuristic. At times transcendent and transfixing, and conversely a furious and cascading intensity that commands jaw-dropping attention.
160 gram black vinyl LP comes packaged in 2 color, reverse-board jacket with 8 page booklet with extensive notes on the musicians and songs, as well as a history of Mauritanian guitar music.