Seth Ayyaz (UK)
Ayyaz is a composer-performer whose work spans live electronics, free improvisation, noise and electroacoustics. He is a practitioner of Arabic music – principally nay (end-blown flute) ghaita (reed pipe) and hand percussion (darbuka and daf).
He has worked with live artist Franko B, Filastine, DJ Rupture, Badawi and the collaborative Automatic Writing Circle with composer Thomas Gardener. In 2007, alongside artists including Kode 9, hhyScumclash, and DJ Spooky, Ayyaz contributed the two-part piece The Ocean of Tears to Raz Mesinai’s collaborative project Unit of Resistance.
Ayyaz has presented his work internationally and most recently performed a live diffusion of The Bird Ghost at the Zaouia at the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (2010) in Finland. The piece is a composed machine for listening that uses fragmented recordings made in Islamic religious rituals. It exploits and reconfigures the sonic detritus, the sounds designated as non-music, in a polemical and immersive multi-channel work.
Mazen Kerbaj (Lebanon)
Mazen Kerbaj lives and works in Beirut where his main activities are music, comics, and painting.
He has published 10 books, many short stories, and drawings and has exhibited his work internationally.
Kerbaj is one of the founders of the Lebanese free improvisation scene, both as a trumpet player and as an active member in the MILL association that in 2001 founded and organises the annual Irtijal international festival for free music in Beirut - now in it’s 10th year.
Hassan Khan (Egypt)
In the late 90s Khan was heavily involved in Cairo’s alternative cultural scene and is considered a pioneer in both the fields of experimental music and video.
His practice over the years has incorporated increasingly diverse media including photography, architectural installation, sound, animation, film and video, interventions in publications, performative actions, lectures and sculptural works, as well as soundtracks and music concerts.
Khan establishes rhythm, structure and repetition only to break them open, tear them down and rebuild them anew. The result is no mere background lounge listening but rather a visceral sonic experience in making a radical thought process manifest and material.
- Kaelen-Wilson Goldie, 2007
Mutamassik (Egypt / USA)
Mutamassik (meaning 'Stronghold' or 'Tenacity' in Arabic) a.k.a. Giulia Loli is a producer, DJ, artist, pioneer of Sa'aidi Hardcore, Baladi Breakbeats, transcendental sonic experiments, and relentless rhythms from Pan-Afrabic immigrant sound sources.
She has worked with David Byrne's Luaka Bop, Arto Lindsay, Musicians of the Nile, Elliott Sharp, Bachir Attar, and Kaffe Matthews amongst others and has performed extensively throughout U.S., Africa, Middle East and Europe.
Before the sounds of the Middle East became de rigueur sampling materials for hip-hop, Mutamassik was exploring ways of fusing various sounds and styles into a compelling, challenging whole, shards a-flying all the while.”
- Wayne Marshall, Wayne & Wax
Mahmoud Refat (Egypt)
Mahmoud Refat is a Cairo-based sound artist, musician and founder of the 100COPIES label, the 100LIVE Electronic Music Festival and the 100RADIO Station.
Over the past five years working alongside other artists based in the city, Refat has been an active agent in establishing a unique experimental music scene in Cairo. His work has been released, installed in spaces and performed live. His discography includes Shift (Leerraum, 2004), The Physical Volume (Leerraum, 2005), Miramar (100COPIES, 2006), Mort Aux Vaches (Staalplaat, 2007), and Vinoise (Leerraum, 2008). During the past ten years, Refat has also produced music for film and theater.
Meelkop meets Noto, Chartier meet Pan Sonic… For me an entirely new artist, but certainly someone to watch for the future.
- Vital Weekly (Germany)
Sharif Sehnaou (Lebanon)
Sharif Sehnaoui is a free improvising guitarist. He plays both electric & acoustic guitars, with or without extended and prepared techniques, focusing on expanding the intrinsic possibilities of these instruments without the use of effects or electronics.
He resides in Beirut after more than a decade in Paris, where he started his career as an improviser in 1999, playing at Instants Chavirés where he was a member of several orchestras. In Lebanon, he actively contributed to the emergence of an unprecedented experimental music scene. In 2001, with Mazen Kerbaj he created the Irtijal Festival, which is currently the only improvised and new music festival in the Arab world.
Michael Zerang (USA)
Percussionist, improvisor and composer Michael Zerang was born in 1958 in Chicago, Illinois as a first generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, experimental theater, and international musical forms.
Zerang has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms. He and has toured nationally and internationally since 1981 with an ever-widening pool of collaborators.
Zerang co-founded and performed with the musical groups Liof Munimula, The Neutrino Orchestra, and Trio Troppo amongst others. In addition to these ensembles, Zerang currently performs with many innovative musicians including AACM co-founder Fred Anderson, Peter Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson, Raymond Strid, Sten Sandell, Don Meckley, Jaap Blonk, Daniel Scanlan, Kent Kessler, Barre Phillips, Jim Baker, Hamid Drake, Ken Vandermark, Luc Hautkamp, and Fred Lonberg-Holm.