DJ Cheb I Sabbah: As Far As–A DJ Mix


By Derk Richardson  |  

Six Degrees, www.sixdegreesrecords.com.

The world of DJ culture has been making increasingly frequent forays out of the dance clubs and onto CDs for private listening and partying pleasure. In the San Francisco Bay Area, DJ Cheb I Sabbah has long been a pivotal figure on the world-music and club scenes. A genuine world traveler–he was born in Algeria and lived in Paris in the ’60s before moving to the United States–he has collaborated with the late jazz trumpeter Don Cherry and qawwali (Pakistani devotional song) legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, among others, and has channeled his penchant for cross-cultural commingling into radio shows, three previous CDs, multimedia performances, and innumerable live mixes for spellbound clubgoers. On As Far As Sabbah creates the kind of amalgamated playlist he crafts from various recorded materials in live settings.

The album comes across like a psychedelic soundtrack for postmodern globe-trotting, with sampled beats, kaleidoscopic electronic textures, and myriad special sonic effects taking the listener on a mysterious through-the-looking-glass expedition. An official version of the sort of bootleg mix tape highly prized in underground circles, it brings together a host of Sabbah’s favorite recordings by others–including tracks by Indian vocalist Najma, Moroccan ambient electronica musician Toires, Turkish hip-hop artist Makale, Guinean griot (folksinger) Sekouba Bambino, Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, the political London collective Asian Dub Foundation, and South African musicians Sangoma and Suzan Hendricks–in a continuous flow.

Included in the sequence are two original compositions and three stunning remixes: flutist Paul Horn’s “Agra” (recorded inside the Taj Mahal in 1972), “Saptak” by Solace (Southern California ambient pop musician Jeremiah Soto), and Cherry’s “Neti-Neti.” Brilliantly paced to move the listener through hyperkinetic dance modes and mystical chill-out moods, As Far As generates a feeling of cultural disorientation that eventually yields to a wondrous sense of shared humanity.

Contributing Editor Derk Richardson writes for Yoga Journal, Acoustic Guitar magazine, and SFGate (www.sfgate.com). He lives in Oakland, California, where he studies the Japanese movement practice shintaido.