Tuesday 26 July 2022, 8pm
Excited to host this excellent line-up loosely themed around new experimental music from the Middle East, featuring musician, architect and researcher, Safa; the jaw-dropping duo of composer, turntablist and performer, Mariam Rezaei and vocalist and composer, Alya Al-Sultani; and music researcher, collector, DJ and radio host, Yamen Mekdad.
Mhamad Safa is a musician, architect and researcher, based between London and Beirut. Safa’s work focuses on multi-scalar spatial conditions and their sonic make-ups. He explores their intersections with aural legacies of traditional and subcultural practices as well as environments of conflict and violence. He conveys these auditory inquiries by assembling sound design, micro-sampling, algorithmic sound technology, psychoacoustics, field recordings, and their graphic interpretations. Culminating with heavily percussive and rhythmically odd interventions, these sonic irregularities are often repurposed as speculative experimentations on the futures of dance culture. In addition to his research in sound, film scoring and installations, he has released music both solo and collectively. Most recently, his album Ibtihalat was released on UIQ with compositions that contemplate sonorous futures of traditional musical practices from the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
Mariam Rezaei is an award winning composer, turntablist and performer. She leads experimental arts project TOPH in Newcastle. (repeater-radio.com/swarm) TOPH curate a regular series of concerts along with an annual TUSK FRINGE for TUSK Festival. (tuskfestival.com) . Her newest releases include ’SKEEN' on Fractal Meat Cuts (fractalmeat.bandcamp.com/album/skeen), ‘The End of The World…Finally’ with Sam Goff on Cacophonous Revival Recordings ( cacophonousrevivalrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/the-end-of-the-world-finally) and ‘Veil’, a collaboration with Stephen Bishop on TUSK Editions/Opal Tapes (tuskfestival.bandcamp.com/album/veil).
Mariam presents a podcast on contemporary turntablism called ‘These Are The Breaks…’ and is guest DJ on’ Radical Scotland’ by Stewart Smith, both on repeater-radio.com. ‘BOWN’, the third album in the triptych ‘BLUD : SKEEN : BOWN,’ is due for release, late 2021.
Recent notable works include; ‘Wolf’s Tail : II’ for Archipel Festival, April 2021. ‘Paradoxes’, West Den Haag, 2021. ‘Our Whites’, Tectonics Virtual 2021. Duos with Cath Tyler and Stephen Bishop for TUSK VIRTUAL 2020 and BBC Radio 3 Late Stages, Oct and Nov 2020. BBC Radio Freeness ’SKEEN’, July 2020. ‘AGENCY-SKEEN’, AMPLIFY 2020. ‘The 42 Mirrors of Narcissus’ TUSK Festival 2019. ‘Wolf’s Tail’ HCMF 2019. ’TOP///‘ at Tectonics Mosaic/Cresc. Festival 2018, Wiesbaden, for Ilan Volkov, and Ensemble Modern.
Alya Al-Sultani is a vocalist and composer based in London, UK. Her first musical experiences were Iraqi folk songs sung by her great grandmother and radio broadcasts of Um Kolthum, Abdel-Halim and Fairouz which she listened to with her family while drinking sweet black tea infused with cardamom. After leaving Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, her family settled in Tottenham, North London where she began to discover the incredible new sounds of the 80s and music from the Caribbean.
Her musical education was entirely classically-focussed, on piano and voice. She learned the importance of technique, tradition, theory, respecting fellow musicians and respecting the music. But she did not learn freedom and it is this she has sought for the last decade. The pursuit of freedom in music is driven by her aesthetic, her immigrant experience and her Eastern feminism.
Apart from working on her own projects, Alya enjoys debuting new music for contemporary composers and experimenting with opera, including the integration of improvisation techniques, microtonal ideas and Eastern influences.
Yamen Mekdad is a music researcher, collector, DJ and radio host based in London. His interests in field recording, archiving, radio and grassroots organising have led him to found Sawt of the Earth and Makkam, two London-based collectives. He is a frequent contributor to a number of radio stations, including Root Radio and Balamii Radio, and was a producer of DanDana podcasts on SOAS Radio. Yamen is currently co-producer/curator of the Syrian Cassette Archives, a web based platform that preserves the Syrian cassette era as well as curating and producing SACF’s (Syrian Arts and Culture Festival) music programme. Yamen has performed and collaborated with various artists/art institutions both in the UK and internationally.