Ralph Koper: Atlas Ambiance
Atlas Ambiance is a selection of recordings captured in Marrakech, Morocco – and half a day travelling from there (in the Atlas mountains), in the little town of Ijoukak.
An excerpt from Ralph Koper‘s travel report:
“Marrakech is a lovely city. All the buildings are in an earthly pink color, and there is a city rule that no building, except the minaret of the central mosque, is allowed to be built higher than the height of a palm tree. Also there is its famous square. During the day the décor of snake charmers and Sahara salesmen. It’s a place where you can get your teeth pulled out by an old man sitting on a carpet in the sun, and after that you can choose fitting false teeth from the large pile of second hand prostheses next to him. You can do the same with false eyes at his neighbors, or if you are into a lesser challenge you can let someone repare your bicycle.
In the evening there are a lot of musicians, fortune tellers, story tellers, gamblers, clowns, dancers, beggars, thieves, a boxing match and lots of tasty food. It’s on this square I’ve been recording the Marrakech part of Atlas Ambiance.
Ijoukak is basically a stop for truck drivers crossing the Atlas. There is this little hotel for their occasional night-stop where I stayed. At my first visit in 2006, across the small street was a mosque with a distinctive small minaret. There I’ve captured the recordings of Koran recitals. During my second visit in 2016 I hardly recognized the town because of the disappearance of this minaret. It has collapsed somewhere in the past years, and has not been rebuilt. The town is simple and poor.
In the evening they watch football together in my hotel lobby. There is no internet or mobile connection up here. Goat and vegetables are on the menu, slowly cooked in a tajine. The town is crossed by streams, originated in the high mountain peaks. They have this wonderful irrigational system where the water is being led to bassins and systems even underneath houses and is used for their farmland. Somewhat like rice paddies. Here I’ve been recording some sounds too. The surroundings of Ijoukak are great and perfect for a walk.
We took a taxi from Ijoukak back to Marrakech. There is the joy of companionship, a grandfather with his daughter, another fellow, very talkative… the final fellow traveler is a large version of a Tony Montana look-a-like. There’s some loud radio, not very steady on the channel. We are driving very expeditious along the Atlas abyss and far below us a river, meandering through a red soil landscape.”