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Photo by Maged Nader

The Dwarfs of East Agouza: A European Tour Supported by AFAC

13 Jun, 2018 

Following their acclaimed first album Bes (2014), The Dwarfs of East Agouza will be embarking on a European tour after the release of their long awaited new album, titled Rats Don’t Eat Synthesizers, which came out in April on the label Akuphone in collaboration with Annihaya. Supported by AFAC in the framework of its Arab European Creative Platform, the tour includes Cappadocia, Brussels, Amsterdam, London, Birmingham, Lärz, Berlin and Roskilde.

 

The Dwarfs of East Agouza is a trio that includes Alan Bishop (Acoustic Bass & Alto Sax), Maurice Louca (Keyboards & Drum Machine) and Sam Shalabi (Electric Guitar).

 

Shalabi, who was born in Libya to Egyptian parents, lived in the sprawling Egyptian capital between 2011 and 2014. He rented a flat in the Agouza district of Cairo where Maurice Louca lived. Bishop, an American with Lebanese heritage, also moved to Cairo in 2011 and eventually found a flat in the same building. And thus was the trio born during 2012.

 

Their long-awaited second LP, Rats Don’t Eat Synthesizers was recorded in a single, four-hour session at a Cairo recording studio in 2015. It consists of two long tracks, “Rats Don’t Eat Synthesizers” and “Ringa Mask Koshary”. Like all their material, nothing was planned beforehand. Inspired by free jazz composers like John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor, as well as Arabic maqam scales and the technique for playing the oud, Shalabi utilizes odd guitar tunings and freeform expression to unearth serpentine licks and murky, rhythmic textures. Mesmerizing electric guitar parts, frenetic beats, both supported by the deep sound of Alan’s acoustic bass create a new magical Egyptian soundscape. Vinyl version comes with a beautiful hot-foil stamped sleeve that magnifies the red metallic rats and a wonderful printed inner sleeve. Includes redeem code. Limited Edition.

 

TOUR DATES

16.06.2018 Cappadox Festival – Cappadocia, TR

20.06.2018 New River Studios – Brussels, BE

21.06.2018 OCCII – Amsterdam, NL
22.06.2018 New River Studios – London, UK
23.06.2018 Supersonic Festival – Birmingham, UK

01.07.2018 Fusion Festival – Lärz, DE

03.07.2018 Arkaoda – Berlin, DE

05.07.2018 Roskilde Festival – Roskilde, DK 

 

BIOGRAPHIES OF MUSICIANS

The Dwarfs of East Agouza is the kind of casually brilliant collaboration that comes along rarely. The three members of the group are all veteran musicians, with plenty of other projects and bands under their belts: Bishop is the co-founder of the pioneering experimental group Sun City Girls (who disbanded in 2007) and of Sublime Frequencies, a record label that specializes in global lo-fi pop and esoterica. Shalabi is a composer, oud player, and guitarist who leads the avant-garde ensemble Land of Kush. Louca, a decade-plus veteran of Cairo’s underground music scene, has been touring lately in support of Lekhfa, an album of luminous Arabic rock and street poetry he recorded with fellow Cairo artists Maryam Saleh and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh.

 

Maurice Louca

Inspired by many influences, from psychedelic to Egyptian sha‘abi music, Maurice Louca’s second album Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot), released on Nawa Recordings in November 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. Hard-hitting live renderings of this album are currently being performed by Louca on live keys and electronics, with Bashar Farran on bass and Tommaso Cappellato on drums. Louca is an Egyptian musician and composer born in Cairo where he lives and works. As well as being the co-founder of the bands Bikya, Alif and lends his sound to numerous projects, composing for theatre, film and contemporary art.

 

Sam Shalabi

Sam Shalabi is a prolific Egyptian-Canadian composer and improviser living between Montreal, Quebec and Cairo, Egypt. Beginning in punk rock in the late 1970s, his work has evolved into a fusion of experimental, modern Arabic music that incorporates traditional Arabic, sha‘abi, noise, classical, text, free improvisation and jazz. He has released five solo albums, five albums with Shalabi Effect and three albums with Land Of Kush (an experimental 30 member orchestra, for which he composes). He has appeared on over 60 albums and toured Europe, North America and North Africa. Recent projects include the release of the sixth Shalabi Effect album, a duo album with Stefan Christoff, albums with Karkhana, Omarkestra and a tour in the eastern U.S with Alvarius B, playing solo Oud. He is currently working on his 6th solo album.

 

Alan Bishop

Alan Bishop (AKA Alvarius B.) is a founding member of Seattle's avant-garde and genre-defying Sun City Girls, whose career spanned 27 years and over fifty releases. His work in Sun City Girls, with Richard Bishop and Charles Gocher, alone stands as a testament to his fearless exploration of the outer reaches of improvisation and composition. From their free jazz/post rock psychedelic trio roots, to sprawling radio broadcasts incorporating noise, Italian pop, and sound collage, to gorgeous outernational Arabic and Asian inspired folk music, the group maintained their singular and uncompromising path from inception. Their musical restlessness continues to resonate in the wake of the passing of Charles Gocher and their subsequent disbanding in 2007.

As founder of the Sublime Frequencies record label, Bishop has released over 100 records, introducing previously ignored musical genres from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

And as Alvarius B., Bishop has penned hundreds of his own original folk songs in a primitive “out” style that is unlike anything that anyone else is doing now. This body of work is informed by an obsessive love of psychedelic rock, free jazz, folkloric music from beyond borders, Italian film soundtracks, and an extraordinary sense of humor. Over much of the past five years, Bishop has been living in Cairo, composing & recording new Alvarius B. material while simultaneously establishing his own Egyptian-based band, The Invisible Hands.


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