DISSIDENTEN – The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music:

’The World’ was Dissidenten’s main musical subject long before such ideas floated into fashion. Over a thirty-year span their projects have ranked not only among the most innovative multicutural collaborations but they also figure among the most telling and groundbreaking contributions to the development and broadening of today’s popular music. Since the term ‘World Music’ entered the music lexicon in the early 1980s, their name has been synonymous with and at the forefront of ‘World Music’. After all, it was Rolling Stone that dubbed Dissidenten “Godfathers of World-Beat” long before the term became popular.

The history:

1981/83: Dissidenten and their own label, EXIL MUSIK, are founded in Berlin by Uve Muellrich, Marlon Klein and Friedo Josch. Following a one-year tour of Asia, the group decides to stay in India to produce their first album GERMANISTAN with the help of the Karnataka College Of Percussion, their charismatic female singer, R.A. Ramamani, and percussionist, Ramesh Shotham. The live line up is joined by India’s outstanding pianist, Louis Banks, and American sax legend, Charlie Mariano. Concerts between Calcutta and Madrid, Casablanca, Berlin and Stockholm are documented on the live album GERMANISTAN TOUR 83.

1984/85: Concerts worldwide. Having toured North Africa, Dissidenten set up camp in Tangier, Morocco. Composer and author Paul Bowles and Tangier’s musical godfather Abdesalam Akaaboune introduce the group to Moroccan musicians Jil Jilala, Nas El Ghiwane, Lem Chaheb and the like. Dissidenten’s third album SAHARA ELEKTRIK is recorded in Tangier with Lem Chaheb and their outstanding leader Cherif Lamrani. FATA MORGANA – the album’s hit song becomes famous not only in North Africa but as a top dance floor success in Europe and South America. 250,000 people see and hear Dissidenten live during a three-week tour of Spain. British DJ, John Peel, features the group in his legendary BBC program. ‘Dissimania’ -initially started out in the Mediterranean basin and spreads via England to Canada and the US. Dissidenten make it to the top of independent charts worldwide. Concert for German TV-WDR at the famous Rock Palast is televised live all over Europe.

1986/88: Concerts worldwide. Dissidenten move to Spain. The album LIFE AT THE PYRAMIDS is recorded in Madrid, Tunis and Tangier and includes Dissidenten’s hit song and video clip TELEPHONE ARAB. With a cover version of Telephone Arab, Egyptian superstar Mohammed Mounir makes it number one all over the Arab world. Dissidenten tour major places in Europe and North America as well as North Africa and Asia. One of these legendary concerts at New York’s packed Palladium is recorded for the album DISSIDENTEN LIVE IN NEW YORK. The song Fata Morgana from the 1984 album Sahara Elektrik becomes a major hit in Brazil and South America. 10 years later it will have sold more than 1.5 million copies in Brazil alone. Dissidenten play the title song for the famous tele novela Sassa Ricando. Today Dissidenten still enjoys a strong following in Brazil.

1989/91: Morocco: Recordings with the Royal Orchestra of Rabat for the album OUT OF THIS WORLD, featuring singer Mahmoud Saadi of Morocco’s legendary Nas el Ghiwane and the incredible talents of Cherif Lamrani on mandolin cello. 1989 OUT OF THIS WORLD is released worldwide. The video for the album’s title song was filmed and produced by Dissidenten in East Berlin – just before and during the time the Berlin Wall came down. Concerts in North America follow and Dissidenten start recording for the yet unpublished album REAL AMERICAN MUSIC in the Five Nations Indian Reserve near Toronto. The album includes Native American Indian musicians with whom the band became friends and worked with while touring Canada.

1992/95: Concerts worldwide. Recordings in Mumbay Bangalore for the album THE JUNGLE BOOK – an artistic reunion with many musicians and friends from the group’s past years working and touring all over India. Most of them have become internationally acclaimed by now. Ramesh Shotham, R.A. Ramamani, Karnataka College of Percussion, Louis Banks and Trilok Gurtu to name a few. European radio DJs vote Dissidenten second place amongst 800 albums in their annual European World Music Charts. DJ Sven Väth remixes the single-release JUNGLE BOOK PART II from the THE JUNGLE BOOK and thus introduces the “Love- and Trance-Generation” to Dissidenten.

1996/99: INSTINCTIVE TRAVELER recorded in Hawaii, India, Canada, Morocco, Spain and Germany featuring the charismatic voice of Bajka and Germany’s Manfred Schoof on trumpet. This highly esteemed album incorprates Dissidenten’s decades of experiences in almost every corner of the sounding globe. Instinctive Traveler is a time-travel between the various planets of Dissidenten’s unique musical universe. Hawaiian singers meet Basque accordionists, Native American vocals, Arabic court musicians and Celtic drone as well as South Indian chanting and European Zeitgeist. Dissidenten live – featuring Izaline Calister, Noujoum Ouazza, Manickam Yogeswaran, Charlie Mariano and Manu Gallo of Zap Mama- play Europe’s biggest festivals including two times at Glastonbury, Montreux Jazz Festival and Denmark’s Roskylde. Highlights from each of these shows are released on the album LIVE IN EUROPE.

2000: Dissidenten are exploring yet another musical world. Teaming up with composer, Gordon Sherwood, and video artist, Stefanie Seidl, they create the “Documentary Opera” THE MEMORY OF THE WATERS, first performed at “Internationales Donau Festival Ulm” for German National Radio SWR by the Bratislava Sinfonic Orchestra & Choir: Director, Peter Feranec, and featuring Charlie Mariano, Noujoum Ouazza, Manickam Yogeswaran, Barbara Buchholz and Tomás San Miguel – more than 100 musicians on stage. Between 2000 and 2005 THE MEMORY OF THE WATERS is performed by various orchestras all over Europe. LA MEMORIA DE LAS AGUAS, the Spanish version, is performed with conductor Tomás Garrido and the Orchestra & Choir Pamplona for the Festivales de Navarra – broadcast by Spanish National Radio live nationwide. World Exhibition Expo 2000 Hannover: In collaboration with German sculptor Albert Hien, Dissidenten compose and perform a piece for 96 Bavarian brass bands and a sound installation incorporating the sound of bells from 96 different Bavarian cathedrals and churches.

2001/05: 20 years around the world: Dissidenten once again call upon friends and collaborators to celebrate the anniversary. The album 2001: A WORLD BEAT ODYSSEY, gathers some of Europe’s most famed DJs: Badmarsh, Tricatel, Ravi Bal, Shantel, Deep-Dive-Corp, Lelonek, Kulisch & Vana and Slop Shop to remix nine tracks from almost all musical phases of Dissidenten. In 2003 the remix collection is completed with the album DISSIDENTEN REMIX.ED 2.O: A NEW WORLD ODYSSEY. At  Womex 2001 in Rotterdam Dissidenten present their project IN 80 NIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD – including various DJs, VJ Annahd and Andreas Leifeld, which later is performed live all over Europe.

2006/07: Dissidenten are touring North Africa with Moroccan heroes Jil Jilala. Between concerts they work together in Tangier and Casablanca to complete the new DISSIDENTEN / JIL JILALA album »TANGER SESSIONS«.

2007: The band composes and arranges the musical program at the final party of Germany’s spectacular CREOLE-Award for World Music. French/German TV ARTE and German TV WDR broadcast a lengthy feature about Dissidenten’s Moroccan experiences.

2008: The album »TANGER SESSIONS« is released. Concerts in Europe and North Africa from April onward. The debut concert in Germany is broadcast live and online by German National Radio SWR in April 2008

2009: Dissidenten tour Europe from Finland to Spain with »TANGER SESSIONS«. The line up includes guitar heroes Roman Bunka of Embryo / Mohamed Mounir and Henning Rümenap from the Guano Apes.

2010: Sees Dissidenten performing at the two biggest African festivals L’BOULEVARD in Casablanca (featuring CREATEUROPE fashion design award winner Amine Bendriouich, and Morocco’s DJ MOOD plus MCs Flip & Flo) and the MAWAZINE FESTIVAL in Rabat, (feat. JIL JILALA). Later in the year, concerts in Russia, North America and Europe are scheduled.

2011: The band is on the road in Europe and Morocco. In Casablanca, Fes and Rabat they reunite with Morocco’s cult band Lem Chaheb, with whom in the 80s they shared the worldwide success of the ground breaking album SAHARA ELEKTRIK. In July Dissidenten are headlining Portugal’s prestigious Sines Festival, in August they play in England at Peter Gabriel’s legendary Womad Festival. The concert is broadcast live by BBC. In fall the band returns to Morocco for more concerts.


Dissidenten receive Germany’s prestigious ‘International Praetorius Music Peace Award’. They were asked to put together a live acoustic set for the occasion, taking a retrospective look back over the band’s unique history. This gave them the idea of doing a tour featuring unplugged versions of their greatest hits. One concert was recorded and broadcast by the German National Radio. The rest of the year they appeared at various Festivals in Europe.

2013: On the final date of the tour which mainly included Portugal, Morocco, Austria, and Germany, the trio record a spontaneous concert for friends on the banks of Berlin’s River Spree, along with musical guests who have been part of the long Dissidenten story. This led to the production of the album HOW LONG IS NOW? – Dissidenten Unplugged Live in Berlin, which presents another unexplored perspective of  the group. Since they have been a Berlin band from the beginning, this album is also an homage to their home town.

2014: Except for occasional festival appearances (i.e. Bundeskunsthalle Bonn Festival) Dissidenten spends the year mainly working on the album THE MEMORY OF THE WATERS – Dissidenten by Gordon Sherwood recorded live at the Bruckner Festival Linz/Austria. Back in summer 1997 Dissidenten met the American composer and world traveller Gordon Sherwood in Tanger/Morocco brought together via their mutual friend writer/composer  Paul Bowles. A new and inspired friendship began. The Memory Of The Waters bears witness to the years Dissidenten and Sherwood spent travelling and working together.

2015 Dissidenten headline at the German “CREOLE“ meeting in Karlsruhe, shortly after they performed a sold out concert in their old adopted hometown Tangier and at “Visa For Music“ in Rabat, Morocco where they were granted the “VISA FOR MUSIC-AWARD“ as an hommage to their inspired collaborations with Moroccan musicians. As the Jury states: “Modern Music in Morocco began over thirty years ago with Dissidenten“.

Rabat, Nov. 2015: This edition of Visa For Music honors Dissidenten, a German group with over a 30-year career, and their mix of avant-garde rock, electronic music, African sounds and especially  Moroccan music. Dissidenten, who collaborated with Lem Chaheb , Nass El Ghiwan and Jil Jilala, has been and continue to be regulars of Morocco since the 80s, and has delivered a memorable performance worthy of their status. The hommage award was presented by Mr. Brahim el Mazned, head of Visa for Music and the Moroccan Minister of Culture, Mr. Mohamed Amine Sbihi.

2015/16: Sees Dissidenten on tour – together with their long time friend Mohamed Mounir- at various Festivals in Europe (Afrika Festival Würzburg, Vienna and Munich as well as the Nuremberg Bardentreffen with more than 240,000 spectators). For many years Dissidenten and Mounir have been close friends. He has played and recorded a variety of their songs and Dissidenten’s guitarist Roman Bunka has been a member of Mounir’s band since the 80s. Mounir is an iconic Egyptian singer and film star. From Alexandria to Aswan, the voice of Mohamed Mounir is as familiar to Egyptians as that of a brother or father or closest of friends. His warm, sweet contralto is an integral part of Egypt’s soundscape, blasting day and night from countless CD-selling kiosks, sidewalk cafés and automobiles.

Dissidenten & Mohamed Mounir -Foto © Peter Engelke

2017 Dissidenten & Mohamed Mounir – We Don’t shoot! is released. The album contains live recordings from 2015/16 Tour with Egyptian superstar Mohamed Mounir.

2018 Dissidenten touring Russia again. Various appearances at German summer festivals.

2019 Working on project 40 Years Dissidenten: All you ever heard about us is true!


  • The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music: ‘The World’ was Dissidenten’s main musical subject long before such ideas floated into fashion. Over a thirty-year span their projects have ranked not only among the most innovative multicultural collaborations but they also figure among the most telling and groundbreaking contributions to the development and broadening of today’s popular music. Since the term ‘World Music’ entered the music lexicon in the early 1980s their name has been synonymous with, and at the forefront of ‘World Music’.
  • New York Times: „….. the world beat movement, led by groups like Dissidenten, the adventorous group from Berlin…..“
  • Sounds, GB: „…it’s ironic, but by no means surprising, that Britain ist he last European nation to open it’s doors and collective minds to the most established of East/West bands, Germany’s Dissidenten. The assumption that we Brits lead the field in musical trends makes it hard for us to accept that someone else has beaten us.“
  • Folk Roots: „….Dissidenten are repeatedly credited with creating a form of Ethno Beat years before anyone else coined the cult term. Nobody who saw them in Rudolstadt could argue their place in the history books and nobody could deny their musical finesse and vision….“
  • The Boston Globe, USA: „Hunting fort he cult band of the year? A prime candidate is Dissidenten….check them out by all means!
  • The Beat, USA: „…the right choice of chakras keeps the music lean and airborne. I knew I was in for a good ride the first of many times I asked myself, „What the hell is going on?“
  • LA Weekly, USA: „Paul Bowles would have been amazed and Marshall McLuhan would have nodded sagely…….vital, intriguing, passionate and impressionistic – all of which Dissidenten is.“
  • Billboard Magazine, USA: „Dissidenten…..has plugged into global music with a vengeance…… has toured North America twice before pulling crowds as large as 25.000 in Canada……“
  • Cosmopolitan, USA: „…….establishing Dissidenten as the only true heirs to Talking Heads` Afro funk Remain in Light fusion.“
  • Christian Science Monitor, USA: „The burgeoning interest in musical hybrids from around the world has catapulted Dissidenten to great popularity in parts of Europe and North Africa………. in the United States, too…“
  • The World (BBC/PRI/WGBH): „Music critics describe Dissidenten as the Godfather of World Music.It may not seem cutting edge these days to fuse global musical styles with western pop. ….but Dissidenten from Berlin has

been doing it for nearly thirty years…..“

  • Grafitti, Pitsburgh, USA: „……Dissidenten invades U.S. with world Beat….“
  • Keyboard Magazine, USA: „….From Berlin, Dissidenten seeks the commongroove of world dance music….“Los Angeles Times, Dave Knaggs: „…. their music is a visionary joining together of a range of styles and technique that can not be attributed to any particular culture ‐ they’re a product of the jet‐propelled world of international influence…….“
  • Times Magazine, USA: „….pop takes a global spin….an outpouring of bizarre hybrids: German rockers Dissidenten…..“
  • Option Magazine,USA: „…Dissidenten suggest a passionate quest for cultural freedom, political and economical equality…. Response to their tour of the United States was enthusiastic…“
  • Pulse Magazine, USA: „….German ethno‐beat supergroup Dissidenten…..“
  • Reflex Magazine, USA: „……They’ve transformed into a true hybrid‐ultimatively the music of the world drives Dissidenten forward…“
  • The Beat, USA: Dissidenten…interesting….uplifting…wellrealized…imaginative…their music is a vindication of this bunch of nomafds approach to life….“
  • Venice Magazine, USA: „…..to say that this Berlin based trio has captured the„World Music“ marketplace isn’t appropriate; instead, the are defining and shaping that new category of music. In fact, they are the first group to actually personify it.“
  • Folk Roots, GB:„….rarely have I come across such a convincing fusion of musical cultures. I’ve heard several cross‐cultural collaborations between distinguished musicians from different continents but few have demanded the level of mutual understanding, sensitivity and committment that is shown by Dissidenten….“
  • HiFi World, GB: „…Sufi‐derived creativity….“
  • Mojo Magazine, GB: „….a musical travelogue that stands as one of the greatEast‐ West collaborations….
  • “New Musical Express, GB: „…..Dissidenten weave a magic carpet….“
  • Sounds, GB:„…..elegant hybrid from the Dissidenten hothouse….“
  • Eye Music, Canada: „…having patented „Moroccan Roll“ in the mid‐80s,Dissidenten’s visionary raga‐rock sound places them in the vanguard ofBritain’s burgeoning „world house“ movement…“
  • Maclean’s, Canada: „….Dissidenten conjures up the mystery of a Moroccanbazaar…“
  • Montreal Mirror, Canada: „…at the point where east meets west and northmeets south, there you’ll find the Dissidenten…this German band fullfills thedream of successfully integrating eastern elements into ist music….“
  • Now Magazine: „…whirling eastern melodies and popular dance grooves…“
  • Smash Magazine, Canada: „…the transcendnt, irresisible sound ofDissidenten will take you away to paradise. They have a magical, otherworldly appeal…“
  • Journal de Quèbec, Canada: „….irrésistible Dissidenten….a son troisièmepassage à Quèbec, Dissidenten a encore une fois soulevè sa foule, environ 4300 spectateurs heueux sous le beau temps retrouvé. Quèbec devient plus jamais la terre d’attache de Dissidenten en Amérique, sa ville fétiche.“
  • Actuel, Canada: ….alors Dissidenten a inventé le funk de la zone moderne, l’electro‐pop sur les melodies de casbah…..Dissidenten défient à nouveau les

codes anglo‐saxons..“

  • Fusions Magazine, Switzerland:„….Irrémédiablement indispensable….“
  • L’Echo, Switzerland:„…..paisable et dépaysant…
  • “ZAP Magazine, Switzerland:„…Voyageurs impénitents, ces dissidente là ontdéjà les pieds dans le 21éme siècle….“
  • 24 Heures, Switzerland:„…Danse brùlante pour musique fiévreuse, celleDissidenten…“
  • El Pais, Spain: Son alemanes de origen, pero internacionalistas por vocación.Precursores de la fusión entre electrónica y sonidos étnicos, pocos grupos han hecho tanto como Dissidenten por el conocimiento de otras culturas. El martes empiezan su tercera década aventurera con una gira por España.
  • Miguel Lopez, National Radio Spain on „Sahara Elektrik“
    The original title of this article was “Los Ritmos Étnicos” for “El PaisThis album is the Bible or the Koran of Ethno-Beat or World Music, the one that marks the birth of the genre. It’s an extraordinary piece of work, released in 1984, in which a group of blond German rockers worked alongside and on equal footing with another group of darker-complexioned Moroccans who were already considered ahead of their time in Morocco. It is Dissidenten’s second album. Their first one, Germanistan, recorded in 1981 with the Karnataka College of Percussion, served as the training ground for working in Tangiers on this, their seminal achievement and the most influential album of the last twenty years. A sleeve inside the original German vinyl cover described its music as Ethno-Beat, of which a loose translation into Spanish is Ritmos Étnicos . As an anecdote, that album was to inspire the author of this text to produce a program in Radio 3 called Disiden-Tres, from which Discópolis later stemmed.