Big feature on the music of Cairo musician Maurice Louca tonight, plus some glitchy Euro dub and some intense techno later, plus an epic new piece of Aussie folk...
Maurice Louca - The Palm of a Ghost (feat. Nadah El Shazly) [Northern Spy/Sub Rosa]Bikya - betrayal [100 Copies]Maurice Louca - repeat to fade [100 Copies]Alif - Eish Jabkum Hon? (What Brings You Here?) [Nawa Recordings/Bandcamp]Maurice Louca - Salute the Parrot (feat. Alaa 50) [Nawa Recordings/Bandcamp]Nadah El Shazly - Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory) [Nawa Recordings/Bandcamp]
Lekhfa (Maryam Saleh, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, Maurice Louca) - El Shahwa Wel Soarr [Mostakell]Karkhana with Nadah El Shazly - Dans ma bouche, une autre bouche [Unrock]Maurice Louca - Northern Spy [Northern Spy/Sub Rosa]
Sometime last year The Wire put Nadah El Shazly on the cover as part of an in-depth look at the underground music scene in Cairo & Egypt - a couple of months after featuring a fantastic playlist from El Shazly of experimental Egyptian music. It was a fascinating interview and, along with her playlist, made me want to seek out more music than the small sliver I already knew (not just ZULI's amazing glitchy electronics but also El Shazly's own beautiful album from 2017). Frequently appearing among the collaborators and producers was the name Maurice Louca, who was mentioned as having made electronic music but also being involved with experimental rock and song-based stuff. In particular, on El Shazly's playlist was something credited to Lekhfa - although technically that's the name of the album. The work of singers Maryam Saleh & Tamer Abu Ghazaleh along with Maurice Louca, it's a wonderful setting of Egyptian jazz & popular song into a modern setting of edgy indie rock & electronics. It turns out that Louca and Abu Ghazaleh collaborated a few years earlier in a quintet called Alif, interpreting Egyptian poetry into a similar heady mix of traditional Egyptian, rock and electronics.
In researching this special, I discovered two early electronica albums of Louca's, released on the slightly boutique Cairo label 100 Copies. Bikya is a trio which apparently still exists, sporadically, with Mauhmoud Waly on bass and Mahmoud Refat on drums. All contribute electronics - glitchy beats and samples abound alongside muscly grooves. Meanwhile Louca's first solo album Garraya came out through the label in 2010, with more glitchy beats and sensitively cut-up samples.
Louca's new solo album Elephantine brings together a band of musicians from Cairo & beyond to create an album part improv, part composed, with Louca as band-leader and musical visionary. The Egyptian music we've heard on these various recent albums is there, as is the more experimental rock of some of this other projects, but it's dominated by a cosmic jazz feel, focused but looser due to the seasoned improvisers involved, with the sense of groove and the beautiful airy production the only sign of his electronic roots.
Meanwhile, also released early this year is a split album on Unrock called Carte Blanche, with Sun City Girls' Sir Richard Bishop and David Oliphant on one side and on the other Cairo/Beirut/Istanbul supergroup Karkhana, which features Louca alongside frequent collaborator Sam Shalabi. These tracks benefit also from the singing, once again, of Nadah El Shazly. It was nice to see this release appearing on my radar at the same time as Louca's new solo album.
Ulrich Troyer - Dolomite Dub (Part II) [4Bit Productions]Ulrich Troyer - At The Workshop [Deep Medi/4Bit Bandcamp]Uli Troyer - Nok 3 [Mego/4Bit Bandcamp]
I first discovered Viennese glitch/dub producer Ulrich Troyer (as Uli Troyer) via his debut release, a 3" CD (remember those? I have so many...) on what was still, at the time, the Megolabel. With dub undertones, it was basically a bunch of short pieces made from glitchy, clicky beats. Nice enough that I kept it in my collection, but it was a surprise to find a promo years later from the beloved dubstep label Deep Medi in my inbox with Ulrich Troyer's name on it. The Songs For William album is not dubstep, but it's glitchy dub of a characteristic German/Austrian flavour, and utterly lovely. Cut to 2019, and his latest album Dolomite Dub is out on his own 4Bit Productions. Its 4 long tracks make up an engrossing mountain trek, perfect travelling music. Probably his best work yet.
Nkisi - The Dark Orchestra [Arcola]Nkisi - Violent Tendencies [Arcola]Nkisi - V [UIQ/Bandcamp]
A couple of weeks ago we heard from NON Worldwide co-creator Nkisi's wonderful new album on UIQ, melding Congolese rhythms with widescreen techno. She put out an EP last year on Warp's vinyl-only sublabel Arcola, and I'd been hanging out for digital for some time. This week, spurred by news of the latest Arcola release, I went to Bleep to check, and lo and behold, the Arcola catalogue is now available digitally! So we heard two tracks from the darker and faster Arcola EP The Dark Orchestra tonight.
Only The Lonely - Fog (demo) [Only The Lonely Bandcamp]
It's been a few years since Brett Thompson put out his last release as Rand & Holland, the epic, fucked up self-titled masterpiece released on Room40's A Guide To Saints (find it here). It's been a long time since we've heard anything new from Brett. But last year I had the pleasure of seeing him and partner Loni in Only The Lonely performing at the Golden Age Cinema in Sydney, and now two demos have surfaced on Bandcamp. The angst and noise of that last Rand & Holland release is gone, replaced again with hypnotic folk riffs, subtle percussion and ride cymbals, and the vocal partnering of Brett & Loni. The 12-minute "Fog" is worth every single minute. Enjoy, and pay what you like.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.