Loud Sounds 44
Cover photo: Gnawa musicians Maâlem Abdelkebir Merchane, Hicham Merchane and Baska
"Loud Sounds" are some of the best new tracks we've found. Installment 44 features traditional songs from Ukraine and Gnawa community in Morocco reimagined by modern producers.
Farouk Sen – Hammouda (feat. Abdellah Stitou)

Composer and producer Farouk Sen spent the last two years recording traditional Gnawa songs, some of which he reworked for his upcoming album. His latest single Hammouda combines traditional singing that sounds surprisingly organic with autotune with a catchy guitar melody and some trippy synths. Listen to the song and read on to learn about its origins.

Farouk Sen
I spent the last two years doing research about Gnawa community in Morocco. I can spend hours and hours talking about this culture! Anyway, during those years, I went to Morocco several times and had the chance to meet a lot of musicians from this community and record with them. Here is an example of a live session that I recorded:

Farouk Sen
"Hammouda" is one of the first songs that the Gnawa start playing during their rituals where they invoke Hammouda, one of the saints they venerate.

The song is part of my upcoming album. "SAM". During my interviews with the community, a name kept coming back: SAM. So i called this album SAM to pay a tribute to one of the greatest musicians of this community. Unfortunately SAM passed away a few years ago, and there is only one video from a documentary where we can see him:

Farouk Sen
Most of the songs played by Gnawa musicians, as in most traditional Middle Eastern music, are based on oral transmission. And every musician generally has his own interpretation of traditional songs. For example, here are few versions of Hammouda:

Farouk Sen
For the whole project I didn't use any samples. I recorded all the songs live with Gnawa musicians in a recording studio called Studio Hiba in Casablanca, Morocco. And, based on those melodies, I came up with new arrangements for the songs and tried multiple styles, from Trap and Afrobeat to House music.
Also check out Farouk's earlier singles.
Macro/micro – Kolomyika (feat. Tina Karol)

This song is an unlikely collaboration between excellent experimental musician from LA Macro/micro whose music we covered earlier and acclaimed Ukrainian pop singer Tina Karol. But it totally works, pairing Tina's vocals with dry spiky percussion, acid synths and ghostly vocal chops reminiscent of Deep Forest's early albums.

Tommy Simpson
The opportunity to collaborate came from a Ukrainian fashion designer Lessja Verlingieri and her brand Lever Couture. They had a runway event at Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo and wanted to make a special music element that would be in support of Ukraine. One of the main models and show producers, Alyona Subbotina, is a friend of mine and she showed Lessja my album "Things Will Never Be The Same Again". Lessja really liked it and asked her friend Tina Karol if she would like to add a vocal part to some of the tracks. We originally thought to do 3 songs from this album, but eventually decided on 2 from TWNBTSA and another from a previous album of mine– (In)voluntary Hell from my album "No Stalgia", and this became "Kolomyika".

The main theme of the collaboration was to take Ukrainian folk songs and pair them with contemporary electronic music to bring their history and present closer together, perhaps giving young Ukrainians and other people from around the world who are unfamiliar with Ukrainian traditions a new way of appreciating their culture.

Musically, I thought it was important to choose tracks that would be inspiring emotionally while also being a bit terrifying and full of tension to reflect the reality on the ground in 2022. My personal quest in music is always in searching for the existential truths, fears and hope that are found within every single person. I hope the songs can inspire everyone from around the globe towards this common quest of a more enlightened and harmonious shared human project as much as the tracks are meant to support the Ukrainian people in the fight for survival and self-determination.

Kolomyika is track 2 from a 3 track EP called "Leleka", which in Ukranian means "stork" or "crane". This bird is apparently very symbolic in Ukrainian folklore, and I know that in American/British?/Western? culture(s) the stork represents new life. I really appreciated that Tina was willing to take the risk of collaborating with an underground artist like myself — someone with as big of a reputation and expectation from a large fan base like her would usually shy away from such a project. She trusted me and supported all of my creative decisions fully and I did the same for hers. It was such a pleasure to work with someone as kind, open and talented as her, I feel so lucky!
And here's how the runway event looked and sounded. The collab starts at 3:50.