Three musicians who came of age in 1990’s Cairo, their disparate paths in music intersect a couple of decades later when they’re drawn to each other’s work, and agree to meet at a seaside cabin in Alexandria, followed by residencies in Amman, Cairo and Beirut to create and record a new album.
Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, names that have turned heads in alternative Arabic music with solo albums and conspicuous collaborations, with Lekhfa they give birth to an off kilter sound where layers of grit and beauty intertwine in and around the dystopian poems of their contemporary Mido Zoheir, whom they’ve dubbed the fourth member in this creation and one of the most talented Egyptian poets of their generation.
Inspiring the work of these three musicians is a distinct sentiment that Mido Zoheir taps into, penning a certain reckoning with reality that eschews nihilism in favor of jubilant desperation. Teskar Tebki (drunk, you weep like a kid), perhaps one of the ten tracks that best embody this juxtaposition, is essentially an Egyptian dance track with a dirty downbeat maqsoum rhythm, flowery oud, buzuq, synth and guitar arrangements, inhabited by Maryam and Tamer’s soulful interpretations of gut wrenching lines such as “you whose tears fall like bricks, in your heart, a branch still blooms”. With its explicit lyrics, Teskar Tebki will only be released in the uncensored version of the album.
TAMER ABU GHAZALEH
Tamer Abu Ghazaleh was born in Cairo 1986 to an exiled Palestinian family. He started singing and performing at the age of two, and composing at the age of nine. In 1998 Tamer and his family managed to return to their homeland to live in Ramallah, where he started his academic music education at the National Conservatory of Music (now Edward Said Conservatory). There he studied oud, buzuq, music theory, history, analysis, composition, orchestration and performance, under the supervision of renowned Palestinian musician Khaled Jubran. In 2008, Tamer released ”Thawret Ala” (Revolution of Worry), a collaborative piece of musical theatre that was performed by the Al-Tamye Theatre Group.
While he has been touring his own music throughout 2012 at sold-out concerts in Beirut, Alexandria, Cairo, Amman and Tunis, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh has been an active musical collaborator for many years. Projects include: starting the cross-genre group Kazamada (2010); working with Palestinian & Egyptian artists on Jehar (with Huda Asfour), Duo Buzuq (with Rabea Jubran) and Kalam Mazzika (with Salam Yousry); and performing on Khaled Jubran’s Psalms (2005).
Tamer Abu Ghazaleh is currently touring while producing the music of a number of talented Egyptian musicians. He is also one of the key members of the new pan-Arabic Alif Ensemble.
A major creative force and a powerful voice for her generation, Egyptian singer and songwriter Maryam Saleh composes and performs music that is personal, political and contemplative. She released her monumental debut album Mesh Baghanny (eka3, 2012), after which she joined forces with Lebanese electro-pop pioneer Zeid Hamdan to release Halawella (Mostakell 2015). Known for her muscular, alluring vocals and charismatic stage presence, stemming from being brought up in the world of theatre by her late father, theatre critic, director and writer Saad Saleh. Maryam is also known for bringing the protest songs of Sheikh Imam back to life in new alternative forms through her band BarakA. She starred in many Egyptian films and TV series including Ibrahim El-Batout’s Eye of the Sun (2008) and Tamer El Said’s In the Last Days of the City (2016).
Inspired by many influences, from psychedelic to Egyptian shaabi, Maurice Louca’s second album Salute the parrot (Nawa Recordings, 2014) shattered the confines of musical and cultural labelling and was dubbed by many as a game-changer for the region’s bustling independent music scene. He went on to co-found the Dwarfs of East Agouza with Sam Shalabi and Alan Bishop, releasing their first album together to worldwide critical acclaim. Maurice is also a founding member of Alif, Karkhana and Bekya and he continues to compose for film, dance and theatre.
” Lekhfa is the portal into a fictional universe, one that functions through dream logic, irony, and eerie captivation. ” The Wire
“Iconic figures if the Cairo alternative scene […] drift into a trio in the Arab world’s underground. ” Télérama
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