War, dictatorship, rebellion and revolution, consumerism and neo-colonialism, foreign aid and dirty corporate bills, occupied lands, independent art, refugees and political detainees, digital technologies, pirated software, and the internet are all transforming the Middle East by blurring its boundaries into a transcendent space where new identities clash, fuse, and collaborate with ‘rooted’, local ones.
The region's art and music no longer belong to the space within its own physical boundaries, but rather originate from elsewhere and everywhere. What, then, counts as Middle Eastern music today? Who are the musicians under its wide and complex umbrella? And how much of what we think of as Middle Eastern music is actually invented somewhere else?
The prolific Sam Shalabi is a composer and guitar and oud player whose musical output spans jazz and free improvisation to psychedelic avant-rock.
Seattle-based imprint Sublime Frequencies excavates musical obscurities from urban and rural sites across the globe – music which is typically overlooked by the global music industry, mainstream media, and academia.
Born in Canada and living in Egypt, Angie Balata spends a lot of her time moving around the different places and spaces in the Middle Eastern indie arts scene. During the day she is a arts manager and works to build projects and platforms for the promotion of independent culture.
With roots in the Tunisian alternative music scene, Deena Abdelwahed works to inject a dose of innovation and experimentation into electronic dance music in Tunisia. Trained as a jazz singer and performer, Abedlwahed has made a name for herself as a singular producer, as evidenced by her Klabb EP and, more recently, debut album Khonnar.
The music of Swiss-Lebanese duo Praed reflects the complexities and tensions of contemporary Egyptian society by combining Arabic popular and trance musics with free jazz and electronics.
Maurice Louca, an Egyptian musician and composer born in Cairo, is one of the most exciting artists in the Arab world's alternative music scene.