The Wire: Unlimited Editions – Akuphone

Zu ihrem Beitrag über das französische Label Akuphone in The Wire 454 stellt Rayya Badran Tracks aus dem Backkatalog des Labels in einer kommentierten Playlist zusammen.

Akuphone wurde 2015 in Paris von Fabrice Géry, alias Cheb Gero, gegründet. Der wachsende Katalog umfasst Wiederveröffentlichungen von traditioneller und Popmusik aus Südostasien sowie zeitgenössische elektronische Musik von Musikern aus der arabischen Welt, von denen einige mit der Musikgeschichte ihrer Region in elektronischen Kompositionen experimentieren. Bei einem so vielfältigen Katalog und einem Ohr, das auf Musiker eingestellt ist, deren Streifzüge durch vergangene und zukünftige Klänge ein so reichhaltiges musikalisches Terrain abdecken, wäre es müßig, nach einer guten Darstellung des „Sounds“ des Labels zu suchen. Dennoch ist der Katalog des Labels weit davon entfernt, ein Pastiche zu sein. Diese Auswahl umfasst vor allem aktuelle Veröffentlichungen und eine Wiederveröffentlichung, aber es gibt viel, worauf man sich bei diesem Label freuen kann, vor allem für diejenigen, die sich auf die Suche nach neuen und anderen Beziehungen zur Musikgeschichte der Welt machen.

My Jazz Child
“La Belle Dame”
From Innéisme

Language is at the core of this album, inspired by Noam Chomsky’s concept of universal grammar, which, in brief, is a theory stipulating the dominance of the genetic component on the faculty of language. Damien Mingus of My Jazzy Child overlays utterances, singing and onomatopoeias delivered in several languages including French patois and Hindi with percussive and rhythmic instruments, often laced into electronic tracks. Such distinct languages overlap in “La Belle Dame”, which opens with a quirky instrumental rhythm section before different groups of voices take turns singing. The also alternates different people speaking in French patois and an addicting repetition of “cui-cui-cui”, the onomatopoeia for bird song in French, which is sung by a child.

ABADIR & Pie Are Squared
“Ana Bosa – Nur Al Hoda”
From Wujidat

Egyptian electronic producers ABADIR and Pie Are Squared’s conceptual album Wujidat is set in the distant future, in 2120, when “noises over 30 decibels are no longer allowed, and global governments have imposed strict laws to ensure that these regulations are enforced. Noise detectors are now planted everywhere, and noise levels are subject to constant surveillance”. Wujidat (Found) is an album that mines the rich history of Arabic music from the 1920s until the 40s onto which the two producers apply effects such a delay and distortion on well-known and lesser known tracks, revealing the impact of potential material decay and the musicality that emerges from it.

Mikado Koko
“Two Birds”
From Maza Gusu

This track encapsulates the eerie sonic world of Mikado Koko’s album. Audible in this track is the musician and producer’s blend of sounds from traditional Japanese instruments with electronics. Delivered in her mother tongue of Japanese and in a dramatic, high-pitched tone, Koko tells the famous children’s tale of Mother Goose, anchoring listeners in the dark side of fairytales and contorting views of motherly storytellers. “Two Birds” is perhaps one of the more playful tracks on this album that nonetheless contains the undertones of dread.

Raed Yassin
“The Cyber Oracle”
From Archeophony

Raed Yassin’s most recent foray in the fields of instrumentation and electronics culminates in this transcendental album. His use of archival material is key as it provides him with the components for building a sonic world across time and place. The collision of worlds past and future produces a haunting sonic escape from an ever undesirable present. In this respect, this track both harks back to the musical histories of the Arab world through vocals and traditional instrumentation and beckons futuristic sonic landscapes in which these materials are reassembled electronically.

The Dwarfs Of East Agouza
“The Green Dogs Of Dahshur”
From The Green Dogs Of Dahshur

Dahshur is the site of a royal necropolis situated on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt. It houses one of the oldest pyramids built under the rule of King Sneferu. The second album by The Dwarfs Of East Agouza, who are composed of Alan Bishop, Sam Shalabi and Maurice Louca, seamlessly oscillates between the genres of free jazz and rock. Alan Bishop’s alto sax features prominently on this album. I imagine the album to have been written while on a road trip, capturing the motions of distant and forlorn landscapes. The album concludes with their last track “The Green Dogs Of Dahshur”, which features Bishop’s alto sax as if it was summoning the warmth of sunrise after a feverish and long, cold night.


Berlin based producer and DJ Nicolas Sheikholeslami aka Çaykh is interested in engaging with the boundaries of cultural appropriation through sound and music. Rather than seek answers to the thorny questions posed by the inclusion of traditional and folkloric sounds in electronic production, this album asks further questions. In  (Where) Sheikholeslami attempts to “recontextualise music that travelled from analog tapes – recorded in different localities along the Indian Ocean – to a hard-drive via 192 kbps YouYube rips”. “Soùmatra” is an entrancing track in which different musical and vocal components characterise the vast sounds of South East Asia.

“Love On The Palestinian Way”
From Death Of The Prophet

Death Of The Prophet is probably one of the momentous records from Palestine, produced just before the first Intifada in 1987. The musical group Sabreen (Those Awaiting) was known for its political fervour and musical rigour, as well as its portrayals of the plight Palestinians under occupation . Akuphone reissued this important record on vinyl for the first time, accompanied with a booklet of sleevenotes written by journalist Jacques Denis and rare photographs of the group in Palestine. Love On The Palestinian Way speaks of one’s love of the homeland but also the fear of one day losing it. Singer and composer Kamliya Jubran beautifully delivers the following lines in this track: “To the eyes so pretty/So sleepy at the break of dawn/For fear of exile, for fear of love/For fear the wolf may blind them in a howl”.

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