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The Gnawa Berber

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The Gnawa Berber
The Gnawa Berber


Simo Lagnawi, a charismatic Maâlem (Gnawa master musician) from Morocco, is considered to be the leading exponent of Gnawa music in the UK today. Seamlessly infusing his Berber origins with deep gnawa grooves, his trance-inducing music is an unstoppable expression of freedom and liberation.

The tracks on this album leap from Saharan folk songs to those of the Hausa and Bambara. Simo employs the trance-inducing state of gnawa to summon the likes of forest spirit Sandiye, who is called for on "Sandika", and Abdelkader Gilani who is invoked on the track "Gilani"- he guards the door to the spirit world. Traditionally gnawa music - along with ritual singing, poetry, healing and dance - is played at lilas, all night celebrations that call upon ancient spirits. On "Malo" Simo narrates his own life journey, from musical wanderer to London's very own gnawa maâlem [master] supreme. As part of his quest to bring Moroccan culture to the UK, Simo has also kickstarted his own 'School of Gnawa'. In a creative corner of London's East End Simo holds krakeb classes, gnawa tutorials and far-out world music jams.

On this Riverboat Records release Simo's live energy and thirst for unusual international collaborations reaches symbiosis with his classic gnawa vibrations. Simo Lagnawi, free man, states his musical mission on this outstanding album.

Since his arrival in the U.K in 2008 he has performed at Glastonbury Festival, V&A, BBC 6Music (Cerys Matthews Show), BBC World Service, British Museum, Leighton House, Larmer Tree Festival, Secret Garden Party, Roundhouse, Ritzy and Rich Mix amongst others.


  1. Name
  2. Bolami
  3. Adasoyo
  4. Sandika
  5. Dounia
  6. Hamo Sidi
  7. Hiriza Foulan
  8. Tagna
  9. Bambra Soy
  10. Sma
  11. Sahara Wiya
  12. Gilani
  13. Malo
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