Devils, Possession & Trance. Djerid desert, Sahara, Tunisia.
In Djerid (Sahara) between the salt desert and the oases of the Tunisian South, islamic sufi trance rituals are found in abundance. Ifriqiyya Electrique is a peculiar band, their performance is more than a concert. It’s the real spiritual rite of the muslim saint Sidi Marzûq, practised by the Banga community, the former Haussa black slaves, that is performed. During these kind of rituals people will dance themselves into a trance-like state, being possessed by the friendly spirits that are invited this way.
Ifriqiyya Electrique stages this kind of a ritual. The 5-piece band, consisting of bass, guitar, percussion, computers and vocals is backed by beautiful and fascinating video images from the rite of Sidi Marzûq and a lot of other footage, selected from over 300 hours of film shot in Djerid. The visuals are in synch with the music the band performs, so the audience will be captured too by both music and video and will yell together with the Bangas’adepts. At the same time they get a view into the original rite.
Ifriqiyya Electrique has been invited by festivals in the Maghreb, like the International Festival of Hammamet and the Spring Festival of Tataouine and are ready for more. The first album of the band is released by Glitterbeat Records in May 2017, followed by an extensive tour during the summer (Glastonburry, Womad, Clandestino, Urkult, Musica do Mundo to name just a few). They are targeting Asia for 2018.
Extract from SONGLINES, March 2017
Sufi rituals and trance music captivate Simon Broughton at an inaugural festival in Tunisia intent on invigorating Sufi Music
(…) Most exciting, though, was a show by Ifriqiyya Electrique – a multi-media performance featuring three Banga musicians from Tozeur with electric guitar, electric bass and film. The Banga are the southern equivalent of Morocco’s Gnawa musicians who still actively work in their community playing music with drums and qaraqab (metal castanets) for healing ceremonies. Guitarist François R. Cambuzat, who’s put the band together, spent months filming processions, rituals and trance ceremonies, which were projected as part of the performance – the live musicians interweaved their music with the sound on the film. It’s brilliantly conceived and you really end up feeling as you ‘ve experienced what you see on film. There’s a forthcoming album on Glitterbeat, but for me the live performance and visuals are what stand out. Ifriqiyya Electrique will be at some of the big festivals this summer like FMM Sines and WOMAD. But it was an unforgettable thrill to see them in Nefta in the Banga heartland.
Text by François Cambuzat
ADORCISM. Your personal DEVIL has taken possession of your SOUL and you can never be rid of him. At times he demands your whole body, he desperately needs it because you’re feeling bad. So the Banga community is coming with dances, tchektchekas and tablas, fire, benzoin and water and will drive you rapidly towards your WILDEST SIDE in a frantic ritual that will only end when you have lost all of your senses. Your personal Devil will then own you entirely.
This is a HEALING RITUAL of POSSESSION and TRANCE, a centuries old heritage brought here by former black slaves who had been sold in Tunisia. A syncretism between animism and Islam. We got lost for months, immersed in Djerid, the desert of salt and the oases of the Tunisian South, recording, filming, working and composing with the Banga community – the former Haussa black slaves. Neither musical notes nor tempo were changed. We let the devils communicate with COMPUTERS and ELECTRIC GUITARS to recompose together this adorcist rite of possession and trance. We were aware that from Djerid to the discos of Ibiza and the Moscow rock clubs the NEED TO FORGET ONESELF, to rise, was absolutely identical. Blood and sweat were intermingled, the final point of no return had been crossed, the veil had been lifted from the normal : nobody and nothing would ever be the same again.
Throughout we filmed more than 300 hours as we followed the various rites of the Banga. A film has been realised and is projected in concert, giving the audience the opportunity to lose itself in the immensity of the desert wilderness, in the haunting yells and shouts of the Banga adepts. IFRIQIYYA ELECTRIQUE is a unique project. More than a concert, it is the true Sidi Marzûq adorcist rite and trance as practised by the Banga community. A performance with Banga musicians interacting with Electronics and Amps. A recomposed music, a Transcendental and Post-industrial Ceremony.
TAREK SULTAN is the shaman, the mystic, the visionary. Close to the Muqqadem (master) of the Banga of Tozeur, Tarek is very certainly the next keeper of the musical heritage of the community. Tarek Sultan also the rigorous builder of tablas (drums) and tchektchekas (crotales).During the rites, Tarek is one of the main conductors, the thrower of songs, dances and rhythms for the spirits. In trance, the ajmi ( the former Hausa sub-Saharan language)goes out of its mouth naturally. Tarek Sultan is the warm, powerful and hoarse voice of the Banga.
YAHIA CHOUCHEN. The detonator of Banga. Adored by the community of the desert for his extroversion, his empathy and his innate gift to transcend the assembly, Tarek is the first one to fly away, pulling the whole universe, taking over the conduction of the rite when the rhythm slows down, then giving it back, spining to collapse and bounce, and this for hours and hours. Yahia Chouchen is the solar soul of the Banga, the smile on the lips, the head in the sky. The Beloved.
YOUSSEF GHAZALA is is the one who checks the good progress of the rites, the one who takes care of the possessed ones, who pays attention that the children do not injure themselves, who stops the vehicles when the rite is in the street… But Youssef is also the dark soul of Banga. His devil is the Lion, a glass eater. Introvert, he sets totally in the snares of his spirituality. Youssef is also the metronomic, safe and merciless time of tchektchekas.
GIANNA GRECO left everything behind her. Heroin of the Italian electric musical scene, she lives today between Pamir, France and Djrid, and follows only what makes her tremble. Gianna Greco is the co-founder of the P*t*n Club, a hyper-active unit of musical militancy. She works at present among others with Lydia Lunch (USA) and Denis Lavant (F).
FRANÇOIS R. CAMBUZAT comes from extreme musics, from the improvisation and from the avant-garde, worked with some big names of the jazz, the contemporary classical music as with the classical music from the Maghreb. François R. Cambuzat is convinced that any music will be little substantial if conceived then executed without strong emotion, risk, rebellion, savagery, flight and transcendence. François R. Cambuzat published 19 albums and made more than 5000 concerts all over the world. Founder of many emergencies (Gran Teatro Amaro, L’Enfance Rouge, Trans-Aeolian Transmission), he works at present among others with Lotfi Bouchnak (TN), Lydia Lunch (USA), the Eugene S . Robinson (USA) and Denis Lavant (F).
Tarek Sultan • vox, tabla, tchektchekas
Yahia Chouchen • vox, tabla, tchektchekas
Youssef Ghazala • vox, tchektchekas
Gianna Greco • bass, vox, computer
François R. Cambuzat • guitars, vox, computer
Rûwâhîne • mai 2017 (Glitterbeat Records)