dj Cheb i Sabbah
As Far As : a DJ Mix
(Six Degrees)

As Far As : a DJ Mix cover

The continuous DJ mixed AS FAR AS is the fourth release from San Francisco based musical legend dj Cheb i Sabbah 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: Shri Durga (1999), MahaMaya - Shri Durga ReMixed (2000), and Krishna Lila (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.


DJ Cheb I Sabbah:
Krishna Lila
(Six Degrees)

Krishna Lila album cover

DJ Cheb I Sabbah has recently released Krishna Lila on Six Degrees Records, the final piece of a trilogy that began with Shri Durga and MahaMaya. Krishna Lila is an excursion into bhajans, the devotional music of India, South and North, which features Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale, K. Shridar, Deepak Ram and others.

Born in Algeria, dj Cheb i Sabbah might be best described as a ritual music "hajji" a musical pilgrim of the spirit. He began spinning in Paris in 1964, and by 1968 had hooked up with The Living Theatre. His work with Julian Beck and Judith Malina's groundbreaking theater troupe led him to some of the earliest attempts at turning the spinning of discs into a dramatic art. In the late'80s he became a fixture on the club scene in San Francisco. Throughout his multifaceted creative life: he has presented world music concerts including performances by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and jazz trumpeter Don Cherry; and has produced an album for the Sub Rosa label, as well as tracks for Asphodel and Meta, and remixes for Triloka and Cleopatra Records.

Three views
of Cheb i Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah's nom de disque is another reference to his pilgrimage. Cheb is a nickname used by Algerian rai singers. Sabbah means morning, but the link is actually to Hassan i Sabbah, the Persian mystic whose legendary library is rumored to be the largest in the world.

Cheb i Sabbah’s latest tribute to the Gods, Krishna Lila (The Divine Pastimes of Krishna), is an album of bhajans sung in praise of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and traces the evolutionary arc of this gifted and spiritual artist to a new high. A bhajan is a simple song sung in praise of God that conveys complex truths, and Krishna Lila presents this devotional style of classical Indian music in a modern context that is easily accessible, soulful and liberating. Most bhajans were written in India between the 14th and 17th century and cover a spectrum of musical styles that range from chants (dhun) to the more sophisticated thumri, a light classical style of singing practiced in North India. The best traditional bhajans are distinguished by their poetic content and were made famous by the great saint-musicians like Mirabai, Surdas and Kabir.

An attempt to reinvent an ancient and evolved art form that celebrates the Gods would be a daunting task even for a trained local musician. For an "outsider" to succeed in this project would be unlikely at best. Yet, Cheb i Sabbah has crafted a classic that is deceptively simple at first blush but underneath its skin has the skill and complexity characteristic of a true work of art. Krishna Lila has a fragile, fragrant beauty that lingers long after the disc has stopped playing. Like all his projects, Cheb i Sabbah has approached this one with reverence for the culture it represents and has taken no shortcuts.

The album has been in production for two years. Most of the musicians were recorded in Madras, Bombay and New Delhi, India, and others in New York and San Francisco. Sung in five different languages, it is strewn together like acoustic jewelry, the common thread being bhakti yoga (devotion) to Krishna. Lustrous, new gems are interspersed with uncut traditional pieces that echo timelessness not often heard on a CD. Krishna Lila is organized in two parts. The first five tracks recorded in South India are evocative of Krishna’s pastimes in the garden of Vrindavan. Dressed in garments of gold, and with an orange flower tucked behind his ear, he wanders through the garden playing his magic flute. The gopis (cowgirls) are entranced by the sweetness of the music. Some are bathing in the nearby pond. They emerge, still wet and askew. Others are breastfeeding their babies but cannot wait to set their eyes upon Krishna. They trip through the cool grass. Drunk on the melody of the flute they sway through the trees until they finally feast their eyes upon him and fall to the ground to kiss his feet. The next four tracks are recorded in North India and include vocals and some instrumentation in the distinctive thumri style.

During the making of Krishna Lila, as with his earlier Shri Durga, Cheb i Sabbah embarked on a two year odyssey. The results more than justify his considerable efforts as Krishna Lila’s reverential ambience is immediate and unforgettable, being nothing less than the timeless sound of India itself. A complex blend of cultural, technological and religious components informs Krishna Lila. Listeners will find themselves transported to a realm of celestial beauty, making occasional stops along the way at a dance club whose turntables spin ragas and electronica with equal grace. A singular imagination is responsible for this ultra-eclectic mix, one that could only belong to dj Cheb i Sabbah.

Track Listing








ANJALI (4:45)










GOVINDA (10:49)



Critical praise for Shri Durga:

"No words can accurately sum up this album's divinity, you must hear for yourself its impeccable form."

"Samples be damned! This is the real thing. The result? A seamless melding of cultures. A peaceful meditation on the power of music that gives new meaning to 'trance.'"
- Mix Magazine

"This album is one of the few we’ve ever heard where you feel the music and not the process behind it. Magnificent!"
- Transglobal Underground