When we asked Mariam Rezaei to submit a Takuroku release late in 2020 she responded by saying “I want to do something, but I want to make sure it's something special”. Almost a year later Mariam decided to team up with vocalist Alya Al-Sultani, presenting a first time duo on turntable and voice, sending lightning fast sonorisations bouncing off the walls of OTO.
Mariam and Alya come from different but overlapping disciplines. After growing up as a classically trained pianist, Mariam has built a reputation over time as a prolific turntablist, DJ and improvisor, never shying away from interdisciplinary and experimental projects. Alya meanwhile is a British-Iraqi soprano, but has spent the last few years integrating improvisational techniques, microtonal ideas and Eastern influences in her music. Together their dexterous lungs and nimble fingers birth forms that dance in and out of each other: shifting, soaring, dipping, diving, but never sitting still.
Mariam takes Alya’s vocals as content to throw back into the mix, forming multiple layers of chops and edits that ricochet back and forth. Alya’s vocals move between tender refrains, textural flurries and righteous bursts of operatic expression, meeting Mariam digital fx, textural drones and sonic swells in ecstatic symbiosis.
Alya’s repeated aphorism “I want you, female,” throughout the start of the set spells it out. This is music about desire and liberation: fiery, sonically rambunctious and forever reaching for new heights.
Alya Al-Sultani - voice
Mariam Rezaei - turntables
Recorded in Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on the 30th of June, 2021
Mixed & mastered by Oliver Barrett
1 - 'SISTER' [23:48]
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.
Mariam Rezaei is an award winning composer, turntablist, writer and performer. She leads experimental arts project TOPH, who curate TUSK FRINGE and TUSK NORTH for TUSK Festival. (tuskmusic.org) . Her music has recently been described as ‘ genuinely ground-breaking’ (London Jazz News 2022) and ‘high-velocity sonic surrealism’ (4* The Guardian 2022). Recent releases include ’SKEEN' (fractalmeat.bandcamp.com/album/skeen), ‘Veil’, a collaboration with Stephen Bishop on TUSK Editions (tuskfestival.bandcamp.com/album/veil), ’SISTER’ with soprano Alya Al-Sultani, on Takuroku (https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/shop/alya-al-sultani-mariam-rezaei-sister/) and TECHNOPOWER on Tusk Editions (https://tuskeditions.bandcamp.com/track/mariam-rezaei-technopower)
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, 2022.
Recent notable works include; ‘SADTITZZZ' LCMF 2022, BBC Radio 3 After Dark Festival, April 2022, Tusk North April 2022. ‘The Sound of Hate’, EKKO Festival, Nov 2021. ‘We Are Not Finished’ with Fevered Sleep, Nov 2021. ‘Wolf’s Tail : II’ for Archipel Festival, April 2021. ‘Paradoxes’, West Den Haag, Jan 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.