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Cheb I Sabbah @ Bali Spirit Festival April3rd,2010
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Cheb I Sabbah @ Bali Spirit Festival April3rd,2010

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Cheb i Sabbah was born in Algeria of Berber (Amazigh) descent and moved to Paris as a teenager and became a DJ by chance. By the late 1980s, residing in San Francisco, he was internationally pushing boundaries on the dance floor, seeking ways to infuse Asian, Arabic and African sounds into the mix. Then as the “world music” movement unfolded, Cheb i Sabbah took the inspired step of recording traditional and classical musicians from India, Pakistan and Africa, effectively transforming those compositions into sonic landscapes, thus creating a new style of electronic music “composed” by a DJ.

With seven landmark recordings on the Six Degrees Records label, Sabbah remains a DJ at heart, but he is also something more.
“As a DJ you have ears,” says Sabbah, “this is my instrument, you know what you want to hear on the dance floor or in producing music.”

An innovator in one of the most contemporary musical realms, he is clearly committed to creating new forms.
“But at the same time,” says Sabbah, “the most important focus for me is to keep the musical tradition alive. For example, folk, trance and healing musicians are struggling to make a living and teach the young generations. Once those musicians go, it's over, then what?”
As an “Outernational” DJ to defender of ancient traditions, Sabbah is a true musical iconoclast and visionary in the electronica scene.

From the crowded confines of nightclubs to major festivals, Cheb i Sabbah enjoys a worldwide reputation as a magician of the dance floor. On stage he often spins accompanied by live musicians, dancers and massive projected visuals, interwoven and juxtaposed as the spirit moves him.

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  • 1. dj Cheb i Sabbah AS FAR AS The fourth release from San Francisco based musical legend d j C h e b i S a b b a h is a continuous DJ mix entitled AS FAR AS and it comes at a good time.. The world needs some healing right about now. His masterful trilogy of recent albums on Six Degrees Records: S hr i D ur g a (1999), M a h a M ay a - S hr i D ur g a Re M ix e d (2000), and Kr ish n a L i l a (2002), are cult classics that have established him as a unique artist who creates bridges between cultures with a deeply moving sound drawn from DJ wizardry and world music aesthetics. These iconoclastic records have made Cheb i Sabbah (or, Chebiji, as he is referred to respectfully), a touchstone of hip spirituality in the far reaches of Europe and Asia and brought him cult status in the club land underground of the U.S. His long-running Tuesday night residency at Nickie's in San Francisco's Haight district has created tribes of hardcore‚"Cheb-i-ites." Unlike some DJs, Cheb i Sabbah does not often put out DJ mixes or compilations and is known to be wary of the bootleg mix-tape. On AS FAR AS, his first official DJ mix, the selections hail from the traditions of Asia, Arabia and Africa, dj Cheb i Sabbah's main sources of inspiration, and with it we finally have a legal way to score the elusive Cheb i Sabbah playlist. It instructs us in the fascinating journey of this techno-spiritualist. Cheb i Sabbah was born in Algeria and moved to France in the '60s. He is one of the earliest practitioners of the art of deejaying and began spinning in Paris in 1964 where he first saw and met T h e L iv i n g T h e a t r e , whose influence resonates in the drama and epic abandon of Shri Durga. It is hard to separate the myth from reality about Cheb i Sabbah's life in the '70s. He maintains a stoic silence about it. He makes no comments about his engagement by J o h n a n d Y o k o in the U.K. and the macrobiotic connection therein. Freaky performance art in body bags? Chebiji makes no elaboration. Although, we do know that he joined The Living Theatre in 1971 and later on, with S uza n n e T h o m as, started a theater troupe in San Francisco named Tr i b a l W arn i n g T h e a t r e . In the late '80s and through the '90s dj Cheb i Sabbah was an icon of the DJ circuit in San Francisco and was involved in a breathtaking variety of musical collaborations and performances including Qawwali maestro Nusra t F a t e h A l i K h a n and jazz trumpeter Do n C h erry. He produced an album called T h e M a j o o n T r ave l l er , using DJ-cut-up techniques and making fast connections with Br i o n Gysi n , I r a Co h e n , Don Cherry, Or n e t t e C o l e m a n and Moroccan Jilala and Gnawa trance music for the Su b R osa label. Since then, he has remixed Psych i c TV , P a u l Ho r n and Don Cherry. His diverse influences and spiritual curiosity resulted in Shri Durga, the debut album on Six Degrees Records and a mind-bending, panaromic Hindu-goth pièce de résistance. AS FAR AS is a whirligig of a mix album spanning three continents, nine languages and probably as many musical genres. Featuring three original tracks and two remixes by Cheb i Sabbah himself, who, like a Vedic poet, has chosen his material both methodically and whimsically and his set list touches the high points of the musical traditions it surveys. His remix of S o l a c e's "Saptak," from their Satya album opens AS FAR AS and gradually immerses you in a pool of Indian echo and reverb. Na j m a's sultry vocal on the electrosensual "Miskatonic" continues the Asian leg of the journey where Asi a n D u b Fo u n d a t i o n 's "Colour Line" beats a relentless tattoo of protest and longing onto the strobe-lit floor. A muezzin's forlorn call to prayer provides the escape into P a u l Ho r n's "Agra, The Emerald Mix," recorded inside the Taj Mahal in 1972. Wickedly paced, AS FAR AS oscillates between the dance floor and the more spacious stage of the heart. The contemplative trance of dj Cheb i Sabbah's "Pour Matoub," echoes the tender sadness at the heart of North Africa, and "Layoun Lokdhor," from T o ir es' recent masterpiece of Moroccan electronica, Sanati, is the turbulent bridge to Na t a c h a A t l as' "Soleil d'Egypte," a swaying, hypnotic lament. The Bedouin night overtakes us now and we're lost in the call and response of Turkish hip-hop in M a k a l e's "Salla," as the moon rises suddenly like a silver drum in the Marrakesh sky and Gnawa Impulse's "Lahilla Express" drowns us in a swirl of ancient choruses and digital throb. The ravishing highpoint of this record is the haunting "Sinikan" which translates as prejudiced word, from Sek o u b a B am b i n o , a Guinean griot and star of African fusion. The track is poignantly intercut with S a l i f Ke i t a's voice on T r i l o k G ur t u's "Have We Lost Our Dream?" which leads into the all-out tribal piece of South African musicians Sa n g om a , S uzan He n d r i c ks a n d t h e Tr a d i t i o n a l He a l e rs. Don Cherry's plaintive
  • 2. trumpet brings the journey full circle with dj Cheb i Sabbah's meditative "Neti - Neti, The Hear and Now Mix." The album's final pleasure is "Hari Om Narayan," a brand new track from dj Cheb i Sabbah that closes with the gentle refrain, "love is the only miracle there is." In a world torn apart by hatred and anguish it is a mantra worth repeating. AS FAR AS continues dj Cheb i Sabbah's thrilling journey of musical reinvention - a continuum of bliss that takes you far beyond its 62 minutes and 32 seconds. U.S. Press Contact: Canadian Press Contact: Ryan Romana Kat Stewart Six Degrees Records Six Degrees Records / Outside Music 540 Hampshire St. 25 Defries Street San Francisco, CA 94110-1417 Toronto, ON M5A 3R4 t: 415-626-6334 ext. 15 t: 416-461-2171 f: 415-626-6167 f: 416-461-0973 ryan@sixdegreesrecords.com sixdegrees@outside.on.ca