Nawa Recordings is proud to announce the release of Alif’s debut album Aynama-Rtama worldwide on Friday 04 Sep 2015.
Alif is the collective sound of five musicians at the forefront of independent music in the Arab world, and Nawa Recordings is a label dedicated to bringing new alternative music from the Arab world and elsewhere. Conceived in 2012 and taking its name from the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, Alif features Khyam Allami (Oud), Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (Vocals/Buzuq), Bashar Farran (Bass), Maurice Louca (Keys/Electronics) and Khaled Yassine (Drums/Percussion).
Their self-produced debut, Aynama-Rtama (Arabic for “Wherever It Falls”) is a reflection of its time and environment. Recorded between Beirut and Cairo in 2014, it is a shape-shifting album that twists and turns when you least expect it. From the lead track Holako (Hulagu) – featuring a poem by late Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) rendered into song for the first time – the band immediately reveal their intention. Louca’s gritty electronic percussion melds with Allami’s rhythmic oud, and builds until the explosion of a driving rhythmic section, backing Abu Ghazaleh’s frenzied Buzuq, leads to a cinematic climax of soaring strings and raging drums.
The startling synergy of these five musicians is retained throughout the album with the effortless and hypnotic groove of Farran’s bass in Yalla Tnam (Lullaby) leading the sparse yet tense homage to insomnia, until the song reaches its sparkling and colourful heights just as the protagonist is about to finally reach his slumber. While a fiery sermon rages in Al-Khutba Al-Akhira (The Last Declamation) as the tumult of Yassine’s acoustic percussion gives way to Louca’s piercing synths, intertwining with Abu Ghazaleh’s potent diction.
From the melancholic beauty of Dars Min Kama Sutra (A Lesson From Kama Sutra) – which features the tantalising verses of renowned late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) – to the majestic and surreal album-closer Eish Jabkum Hon? (What Brings You Here?), penned by the band’s own Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, each track bursts with rhythmic drive and fervour. The band’s wide ranging influences along with their unified and intriguing energy, give birth to a soundscape that is at once familiar and unknown.
Mixed by Ali Chant of Toy Box Studios, Bristol, UK (P.J. Harvey, Rokia Traore, Yann Tierson, Gruff Rhys, John Parish) and mastered by John Dent of Loud Mastering, UK (Bob Marley, Nick Drake, Yann Tiersen, Massive Attack, Nick Cave), Aynama-Rtama traces a complex labyrinth of genres, sounds and emotions, rendered as a unique postcard of the tumultuous rollercoaster-ride of its time.
The album is adorned in artwork featuring a painting by Syrian-Lebanese visual artist Semaan Khawam. His colourful and surreal paintings combined with original typography by Egyptian designer Salma Shamel perfectly compliment the complexities latent in Alif’s music and lyrics. All editions will also feature new English translations of the poems and lyrics by translator Nariman Youssef.
Aynama-Rtama will be available on CD, black & limited edition red 12” Vinyl LP and download, including Mastered for iTunes and lossless high-definition 24-bit/96kHz audio files, the first time for a production from the Arab world.
Digital pre-orders are available via iTunes with the album’s lead track Holako (Hulagu) offered as an immediate download.
01 – Holako (Hulagu)
02 – Dars Min Kama Sutra (A Lesson from Kama Sutra)
03 – Al-Juththa (The Corpse)
04 – I’tiraf (Confession)
05 – Al-Khutba Al-Akhira (The Last Declamation)
06 – Yalla Tnam (Lullaby)
07 – Watti Es-Sawt (Keep It Down)
08 – Eish Jabkum Hon? (What Brings You Here?)
For more information and interview requests contact: Sarah El Minawy Hefni – firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
Social Media & Website Links
@nawarecordings | @alif_music
facebook.com/nawarecordings | facebook.com/alifmusic1
soundcloud.com/nawarecordings | soundcloud.com/alif_music
www.nawarecordings.com | www.alif.xyz
Previous Live Reviews
“[A] coiled energy and rhythmic drive propel the pieces with a level comparable to a fully electrified outfit, offering proof that the same degree of excitement can be reached via lower volume and sheer acoustic attack.” The Wire
“A night where you are introduced to musicians in a new context can obviously go either way. In the case of Alif, it was an education we’re glad to have been given.” The Double Negative
“[A] rare, powerful moment of melody and dissent, dialogue and solitude, an echo of the flickering realities of the region – and the search for meaning in times of upheaval.” The National
“Alif succeed at presenting a musical experience that goes beyond conventional genre framing, to create an identity found in neither Arabic nor Western realms, without falling in the ubiquitous trap of literal fusion.” Raseef 22 (translated from Arabic)
“[T]he initial dizzying, and even melancholic, effect of Alif’s music stems from band’s attempt to alienate the mainstream. This estrangement is ushered by the instrumentation more than the melody, creating a feeling that the band’s members are dangerously adventurous on the verge of major change.” Ma3azef.com (translated from Arabic)
Alif – Biography
Alif is the collective sound of five musicians at the forefront of independent music in the Arab world. Bursting with rhythmic drive and fervour, the band’s wide ranging influences along with their unified and intriguing energy, give birth to a soundscape that is at once familiar and unknown.
Innovative instrumentation, poignant words from avant-garde poets such as Sargon Boulos and Mahmoud Darwish, and the abstract worlds penned by the band’s vocalist Tamer Abu Ghazaleh coalesce to create an intense labyrinth of sounds and emotions.
Conceived in 2012 and taking its name from the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, Alif features Khyam Allami (Oud), Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (Vocals/Buzuq), Bashar Farran (Bass), Maurice Louca (Keys/Electronics) and Khaled Yassine (Drums/Percussion).
After a myriad of European festival performances, a tour of the Arab world, and various residencies across Cairo, Liverpool, Alexandria and Copenhagen, the band began recording their debut album in late 2013 between Beirut and Cairo.
Their self-produced full-length, due for release via Nawa Recordings in September 2015, is a work that reflects its time and environment, just as much as it hints at the band’s future. A tour across the Arab world and Europe is being planned to support the release in late 2015.
Since the band’s inception in 2012, Alif have gone through a handful of line-up changes until finally settling in mid-2013 with their current members. They premiered in summer 2012 at prestigious UK festivals including the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival, Harrogate International Festival and the BT River of Music Festival (part of the Olympics-related London 2012 Festival) following a week-long residency hosted by the Liverpool Philharmonic.
The band have toured across the Arab world and various European festivals such as Images Festival (Denmark), DansFabrik (France), Oslo World Music Festival (Norway), Visa for Music (Morocco) and Beirut and Beyond International Music Festival (Lebanon).
Alif – Individual Member Biographies
Khyam Allami (oud)
A multi-instrumentalist Iraqi musician and composer. Khyam is a virtuoso oud player, serial collaborator and musical explorer with a formidable – and continually growing – international reputation.
Bashar Farran (bass)
One of Beirut’s most active bass players and session musicians. Bashar is a versatile and talented performer of a variety of genres, with an impressive track record in performance and recording.
Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (vocals and buzuq)
A Palestinian singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. Tamer is a restless and inventive performer and promoter of a wide range of music and artistic activity, and a leading figure in modern Arabic culture.
Maurice Louca (keys and electronics)
One of the most exciting composers and performers in the alternative music scene across the Arab world today. Born in Cairo where he lives and works, he is renowned for shattering the confines of musical and cultural labelling with his rich and complex sound.
Khaled Yassine (drums and percussion)
A self-taught Lebanese percussionist who has performed and recorded extensively with local and international artists. Khaled is known for his outstanding command of regional rhythms and versatile contributions to dance-theatre and flamenco pieces around the world.