Alternative Arabic music in 2019

2018 was a big year for the Simsara roster and alternative Arabic music on the whole. Extensive touring, high profile media coverage, fruitful collaborations and even a pan-African award, have paved the way for more major developments in 2019.

Already this month, Karkhana and Nadah El Shazly released Carte Blanche, the AA side on a split LP with Richard Bishop and W. David Oliphant. In July, the band is embarking on a European tour, anchored by a concert at Roskilde Festival 2019, where they will perform new unreleased material.

The Maurice Louca Elephantine Band, too, will be performing at this year’s Roskilde, in addition to shows in Paris, Brussels, The Hague, Copenhagen and Stockholm throughout March and April, backing the release of Elephantine on February 1st via Northern Spy and Sub Rosa.

For her part, Nadah El Shazly, in addition to contributing to Karkhana’s new album, is curating a full day of alternative music from Cairo at BRDCST Festival in Brussels featuring Tarkamt, 1127, ZULI, Maurice Louca Elephantine Band, El Shazly herself with full band, and a listening room dedicated to the music of leading songstress of early twentieth-century Cairo Mounira Al-Mahdeya.

Lekhfa, the dynamic trio bringing together Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, will take part in a residency at the NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Centre, capped by a performance at the venue’s Barzakh Festival in March.

Finally, Simsara will be contributing to two very special projects: one is the launch of Ma3azef in Translation, a collection of English-language articles from the acclaimed music-focused Arabic magazine Ma3azef, which we expect to deeply affect the discourse around Middle Eastern music worldwide.

The other is the Syrian Cassette Archives, a collection of around 900 tapes from Syria, acquired by audio archivist Mark Gergis (a.k.a Porest) between 1997 and 2010, which will be digitised and made available online.

Stay tuned or get in touch for more info.