The recent collaboration between Moroccan Gnawa-master Rabii Harnoune and Frankfurt electronic producer V.B.Kühl is a prime example of the potential future of music. By blending Gnawa music, an intricate Moroccan art form that encompasses songs, rhythms, music, and dance, with modern club elements, this duo consistently produces releases that embody the global connectivity that art can foster. Their eclectic instrumentation and culturally diverse music simultaneously pay homage to the past while boldly forging ahead into the future, blending Eastern and Western influences, the traditional and the cutting edge.
Their recent release, “Koyo Koyo,” from their sophomore album Gnawa Electric Laune II, showcases Harnoune and V.B.Kühl at their best. The track kicks off with dynamic, dance-inducing beats that soon merge with lively, upbeat chanting. It possesses all the hip-swaying vibrancy of an irresistible club track while allowing moments of deeper introspection. The bridge slows the pace, with Harnoune’s chanting taking on a more serious tone before blossoming into ethereal, soulful singing. But before long, the drums return, and the joyful journey continues. While the lyrics may be in a language unfamiliar to most listeners, the music’s overall effect is undeniable — “Koyo Koyo” is five minutes of pure euphoria.
The accompanying music video for “Koyo Koyo” further elevates the experience with kaleidoscopic and spirited visuals. Premiering on HighClouds, the video bursts with light and color, featuring bright and dynamic images that race across the screen. It transitions from glittering pom-poms to vigorous skateboarding and beautiful mosaic orbs, creating an atmosphere of joyous mysticism that reinforces the idea that something extraordinary is happening between Harnoune and V.B.Kühl. Much like the track itself, the trippy and lively “Koyo Koyo” video is a unique and unparalleled work of art.
The track’s name carries special significance as well. “Koyo Koyo” refers to the right-hand man of the Gnawa master, traditionally responsible for learning to play the Qarqaba, a percussive instrument crucial to the rhythmic aspect of Gnawa music. Rabii explained the connection between the Koyo and the song, emphasizing the moral, spiritual, and social aspects of the Koyo’s role as a humble artist and dignified member of the Gnawa community. He sees the track as a tribute to the contributions and significance of the Koyo within the Gnawa tradition.
Just as the Gnawa master and the Koyo share a seamless relationship, Rabii Harnoune and V.B.Kühl collaborate with ease despite their diverse backgrounds and influences. V.B.Kühl described their collaboration, stating that after presenting Rabii with the original beat, they worked together to expand and enhance the track, adding synthesizers, bass, guitar, and electric piano to create a fuller sound. The vocal arrangement was developed in collaboration with Rabii, and the final recordings were completed with additional backing vocals to achieve a rich and expansive sound.
The video for “Koyo Koyo” frequently returns to an image of a man submerged in water while wearing a full suit, floating serenely in the sunlit sea. In a similar vein, one must fully immerse themselves in Rabii and V.B.Kühl’s music to truly appreciate its creativity and musicality. Dive into their sonic world below.