Calamita = Karkhana members Tony Elieh, Sharif Sehnaoui and Lebanese drummer Malek Rizkallah join forces with the Egyptian singer Aya Metwalli - the result is the improbable meeting between free jazz / improv, punk rock & Oum Kalthoum!
Calamita is the "rock project" of Sharif Sehnaoui and Tony Elieh, two of the most active musicians on the Lebanese experimental scene (among others projects, both are members of the "free Middle Eastern music" collective Karkhana). Sehnaoui comes from a jazz and improv music background, Elieh is primarily a rock musician and founding member of the Lebanese post-punk band The Scrambled Eggs whose work in the last decade has covered many directions from pop-rock to plain experimental. They are joined by Lebanese drummer Malek Rizkallah (Who Killed Bruce Lee, ex The Scrambled Eggs). As trio they develop instrumental pieces that draw their inspiration from artists as diverse as Tony Conrad, Last Exit or Oum Kalthoum.
Aya Metwalli is an Egyptian singer/songwriter, composer and sound artist currently based in Beirut. Grown up in Cairo, her father would play non-stop Oum Kalthoum songs on road trips to the beach and Aya's mother; known to have the most beautiful voice in the family, she always sang at home and at family gatherings, so long before Aya was able to form her own music taste, immense amounts of Arabic classic songs and melodies already settled in her subconsciousness … After her first EP "Beitak" in 2016, Metwalli (named "a musical enigma" by The Guardian) started to integrate more experimental and eerie sonic excursions into her avant-pop, so the collaboration with Calamita feels like a natural or logic step.
The roots for "Al Saher" ("stay awake") were laid when Sehnaoui and Metwalli first worked together in "Night", a dance piece by Ali Chahrour which included a wide collection of Arabic songs and ancient poems, later Sehnaoui invited her to work with Calamita. The four met in a recording studio in Beirut, using songs by "The Voice of Egypt" Oum Kalthoum as starting point. Together they aim to fully revisit the song format and explore the possibilities of classical Tarab songs, extracted from their origins and reframed within the music of the twenty-first century. The result is a mix of various styles and influences that often seek to stretch the contrasts to towering extremes.