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Mhamad Safa’s Ibtihalat, an electronic take on gnawa, amazigh and rai
© Jimmy Mould

Mhamad Safa’s Ibtihalat, an electronic take on gnawa, amazigh and rai

This new project will be released via Lee Gamble’s UIQ imprint with a first single, “Bel Abbes”, already available. 

Lee Gamble is on a mission to create the future of dance music. Constantly experimenting with all kinds of composition techniques, this go around Gamble is inviting Mhamad Safa, a musician, architect and researcher, based between London and Beirut to take his stab at it. Safa’s work focuses on “multi-scalar spatial conditions and their sonic make-ups”, exploring their intersections with environments of conflict and violence, and cultural practices from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. His music includes sound design, micro-sampling, algorithmic sound technology, psychoacoustics and field recordings, a fit concoction for Lee Gamble’s UIQ imprint, known for its jungle, noise and techno projects. 

“Bel Abbes”, Safa’s new single, gives a precise taste of what’s to come through this collaboration. Robotic, dark and metallic, the track is a deep dive into the composer’s singular way of producing. Its futuristic feel is introduced through processes of musical synthesis and predictive algorithms, initiating rhythmic meters, accents and polyrhythms within beat-based compositions. 

This new piece is taken from Ibtihalat, Safa’s upcoming EP. A “cyclical and boundless summoning of an otherworldly force in the face of geographic calamities and contingencies”, the project will invoke musical traditions of gnawa, amazigh and North African rai, and add electronic production to it. Ibtihalat will also be deeply inspired with an overall history of cultural exchanges, with influences from Laywa music, originally from East-Africa and exported to the Gulf, or from Taggagat in Saudi Arabia, female-led performances from the region’s Afro-descendants.

Ibtihalat by Mhamad Safa, out on April 29 via UIQ.

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