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Barney Wilen - Moshi Too
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Barney Wilen

Moshi Too


Released: 18th February 2013 | 14 track acid jazz album

80 minutes of previously unreleased recordings from 1969-70, not to be
found on the tenor player's regular Moshi album. Dark and
trance-like amalgam of Afro blues, acid rock jams, polyphonic rhythms
and spiritual jazz influences from the likes of Coltrane or Sanders,
mixed with playbacks, noises, ambient sounds, ethnic music and
documentary snippets from Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Comes as a 6-Page Digipack CD with booklet and limited 2LP vinyl set
in gatefold cover, including new sleeve notes and unseen photos from
the collection of Caroline De Bendern, icon of May '68 and Barney's

Moshi: trance utterance by the Fullani Bororogi (Niger). Moshi is the
Bororogi's way to get rid of the blues, a trance-like state which
involves possession by a special demon called Moshi (CdB).

In 1969 and 1970, French jazz saxophonist Barney Wilen (1937-1996)
travels through Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Upper Volta (now
Burkina Faso) and Senegal to Dakar with a group of musicians and
filmmakers. Once a celebrated bebopper in the Fifties, now, at the end
of the Sixites, Barney decides to drop out. Aboard a brightly
coloured Land Rover is his girlfriend and future wife, Caroline De
Bendern, model and icon of the May '68 Paris riots. Moreover, they
packed instruments, amplifiers, tape recorders and camera equipment.
The goal is to shoot a 35 mm road movie, financed by funds from the
new production company Zanzibar Productions. After two years, Barney
and Caroline return to Europe without a finished movie. However, there
are over 50 tapes in their luggage, capturing music and sounds from
different stations of their journey recorded on a Nagra tape recorder
with people they met along the way.

Almost all of these original African recordings are unreleased until
today and now see the light of day under the title Moshi Too. Infected
by Pharaoh Sanders and John Coltrane, enthusiastic about jazz-rock and
the spontaneous free jazz scene, Barney plays psychedelic desert blues
and spiritual Afro Jazz - hypnotic sessions with deep tenor saxophone,
funk guitar, bass and drums in a trance-like flow. Occasionally, he
works with backing tracks and noise or ambient sounds. In addition,
there are documentary recordings of African music and singing groups,
of various single traditional instruments such as the balafon, oud or
flute and the rhythms and chants of nomadic tribes to the sounds of
nature, Muslim prayers or voodoo voices.

Producer Pierre Barouh later uses some brief excerpts from the tapes
in a Parisian studio. Collage-like, they serve as the background of
the recording sessions for Barney Wilen - Moshi, a recognized
landmark on the way to World Jazz, released in 1972 on the label
Saravah. Short extracts are also included in Caroline and Barney's
film A L'intention de Mademoiselle Issoufou a Bilma (1971). Spare
parts of indeterminate origins, as Jason Ankeney calls these obscure
snippets correctly in the All Music Guide. After cancellation of the
African project, the tapes have been largely forgotten but kept secure
by Barney for future activities. Patrick Wilen finds them at last as
he reviews the estate of his late father and, with a clear view on the
coils, also remembers his words: Do something with it!. In the
course of 2012, over several months, the recordings are digitized in
Berlin with Nagra and Telefunken tape recorders and compiled unchanged
(technically restored and corrected only) for Moshi Too. In Order to
really understand Moshi, you can finally experience the music as
intense as it was made. Barney's African dream lives on. (Ekkehart
Fleischhammer 2012)

Excerpts from new sleeve notes by Caroline De Bendern (2012):

Moshi, the word pronounced during a trance, by members of the Fulani
Bororo (nomad branch of Fulani ethnic group). The trance it seems is
often induced by musical manifestations they are unused to on the
radio, western music and technology. Some say it is a deformation of
Monsieur. It all started in Paris February 1969. A group of young
Insoumis (May 68 term for rebels), offspring of the revolution which
had recently shaken France and caused a few thrones to totter and who
were on the point of leaving on a long trip to Africa. Destination:

The journey was to last six months during which two films were to be
shot. The voyage was originally motivated, on listening to a recording
of pygmy music. A visit to these people was to be one of the
highlights, among others. The production company which financed the
expedition, Les films Zanzibar, was created in 1968 by a young
insoumise, Sylvina Boissonnas, who had already produced several
films by among others, Philippe Garrel and Serge Bard. In 1969,
Sylvina agreed to Serge Bard's Zanzibar project.

The equipment is assembled, technicians engaged, four Land Rovers and
us, that is, Serge, a Moroccan friend Affifi, The actors: Didier Leon,
Babette Lamy, and myself. My new boyfriend and future husband, Barney
Wilen, who should take care of everything on the music side, Daniel,
and minimalist painter Olivier Mosset, who came along to observe the
emptiness of the desert. We spend three months in Tangiers, then to
Marrakech for a while, after which we go south and install our first
camp. About four months had gone by, since our departure and not one
image had been shot. Daniel broke his arm and there were many other
factors of delay. The technicians get nervy, start shooting at the
trees and after having been called bourgeois renegades (or something
like that) by Serge, get mad and quit.

Next Algiers and the Pan African Music Festival where Barney got out
the Nagra provided by the production for the first time, and recorded
Archie Shepp with some Algerian musicians (Gnaoua) from the south, in
front of the mosque at the entrance of the Kasbah. We continue on to
Colomb Bechar, then we made excursions all around Tam, recorded Tin
Hanan festival at Abalessa (Tindi Abalessa). At the border, we were
searched and busted. Some illicit substances were found and we're all
arrested. Sylvina sent two lawyers, who got us off with a fine and
ordered to leave the country.

Then we are in Agadez, Niger. Settle into a house, which we rent from
Malam Sidi, Grand Marabout. We would go on excursions into the bush.
One of these led us to Tafadek, a paradise like place, where nomads
from all around and even further, come to take the healing waters. Hot
sulfur water springs out into a covered bath, in which one can dip and
then go out and plunge into a cold pond outside. We had brought some
of our friends from Agadez, les grands bandits and some pretty
girls: Beautiful Budje, gorgeous Giana and others, the Bororo, among
whom: knockout Orti and the sublime Giulde. It was in Tafadek that
Barney recorded his Moshi one night under a starry sky.

Serge announces that he has converted to Islam. Because of the ban on
reproducing the human image, he will no longer film. We leave Agadez
and join up with Sylvina in the capital, Niamey. Needless to say, she
was not exactly happy with the situation and terminated the project.
Later she joined the women's lib movement. The Zanzibar project was a
financial disaster for Sylvina but thanks to her initiative and
generosity, Moshi exists. Our funds had seriously diminished; the
company could no longer support us. Sylvina left us just enough to
bring back the Land Rovers. We choose to take the boat from Dakar.

Stay over in Burkina Faso (Balandji a Bobo), then Bamako, record
Oussman griot (Bamako Koulikaro ), purchase three balafons and some
percussion instruments, which were played in a title of the album
(Sannu Ne Gheniyo). Leave Dakar on ship with two Land Rovers and
Boogie, a baby Senegalese dog. Back home, Moshi is produced by Pierre
Barouh. After a successful debut (press, television, concerts), Pierre
Barouh terminated the promotion. The group split up. Just after
recording Moshi, whilst the album was being processed, Barney and I
went back to Agadez to make a film (without Serge), A L'intention de
Mademoiselle Issoufou a Bilma. (Caroline de Bendern, 2012)... find
the full version of this text on the CD- and LP-Sleeve of MOSHI TOO