Last time Jace Clayton (bka DJ Rupture) was on the road with FADER photo editor John Francis Peters they were chasing down tribal guarachero in Monterrey Mexico. Now they’re in Morocco for the month of June, working on an art/research project called Beyond Digital. They’ll check in each Friday.
Forget Bogart. Casablanca is an utterly modern city, North Africa’s largest, with traffic-choked roadways and upscale neighborhoods and swaths of shantytowns whose residents have satellite dishes but no running water. While most tourists skip Casa to spend their dirhams in more scenic towns, the gritty magnet metropolis pulls in folks from all over the country looking for work, and powers Morocco’s music and art scenes. I’m here for a month with FADER photo editor John Francis Peters and an international crew of six others. Music brought us. We’re working on a project called Beyond Digital—website coming real soon—somewhere between art and research, exploring the intersections of new musical currents, technology and youth culture in Morocco.
Since today was our first day in Casablanca, we decided to start things off gently, with a visit to Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques, a welcoming shop-distributor-studio on 26 avenue Yalla Lacout in downtown Casa. It’s one of the most incredible record stores I’ve ever seen, even more surprising than that barber shop/second hand record store that Dave Toecutter took me to in Sydney, Australia; and as well-organized as the reggae spots in Shibuya and Shinjuku. Le Comptoir’s dark wood panels house eye-popping 1960s and 1970s vinyl records from around the Arab world, a time of luscious full-color LP artwork and design. It’s not a retro spot. Time, here, flows molasses, which means that the records are in great condition and the prices are normal (a DJ’s dream). The white-haired guy behind the counter, M’hamed Tijdity, has been working in record stores for nearly a half-century. In addition to the shelves of slow release time-capsule vinyl, they’ve got cassettes and CDs for sale. Nearly all the music is acoustic, no drum machines, synths, or wild Auto-Tune vocals here.