In March 2014, James Holden and Floating Points were invited to the Fellah Hotel near Marrakech, to participate in a week-long residency collaborating with the legendary Maalem Mahmoud Guinia from Morocco’s Gnawa musical tradition.
The four tracks package released on Border Community is the product of Holden and Floating Points’ makeshift open-air recording sessions by the hotel pool with the Maalem Mahmoud Guinia and his band, featuring the Maalem on his three-stringed guembri instrument and lead vocals and accompanied by the trio of Guinia’s brother-in-law and two sons, who provide the vocal chorus response, complex krakeb and clapping percussive rhythm cycles, in the Gnawa tradition.
The product of a single days outdoor recording session on a makeshift poolside set-up, communicating entirely through a translator, their success in melding together these two disparate musical traditions in such a seamless fashion is surely a remarkable achievement. “It’s because we’re all playing together and are open to each other’s ideas that it actually worked,” Floating Points told Red Bull Music Academy’s Kat Leinhart, who accompanied the producers throughout the course of their Moroccan trip (as documented in her feature The Hal of Gnawa.
*Floating Points/James Holden recording musicians image - Imane Barakat