From “Into the Mystic” by the music journalist Robert Palmer, originally published in the March 23, 1989 Rolling Stone and collected in Blues & Chaos, the Palmer omnibus (2009, Scribner):
From my hotel window, I hear the dogs—Tangier is known for having more, and louder, dogs than any other city—barking across the distances. The late Brion Gysin—painter, poet, visionary, patron of the Master Musicians who live in the mountain village of Jajouka, and influence on artists ranging from Burroughs to Paul Bowles, the Rolling Stones to David Bowie, Iggy Pop to Patti Smith—taught me to listen to the dogs when I lived here in the early seventies. He claimed he had cracked the dogs’ code and used to provide a running translation: “Everything okay there? Enough food? People good?” And from miles away in the suburbs the responses would come back: “Good food here, but people beat us.” “Out here we’re hungry.”
Now the enormous speakers of the Mosque Mohammed V crackles, and the honey-voiced muezzin’s cantillation of verses from the Koran ricochets off the white walls of the city, quieting the dogs. The chanting forms a sonic grid that focuses, or perhaps completes, the City as Ideal Form: The community of the faithful is being irradiated by harmonics of degree and distance. Tangier’s cunningly balanced architecture of surfaces, arches and crenelated towers servers as a kind of transformer for the spiritual electricity of the muezzin’s call. In Morocco there are different kinds of electricity. This kind is called baraka, a kind of psychic current that certain holy places, sounds and people absorb and hold like storage batteries. The receptive can plug into these power sources—without getting fried, one hopes.