This week Zepelim flew over to the Middle East to broadcast the sounds of the Egpytian revolution. Sharing the vibration of the sucessful revolution in Tunisia, on January 25th, thousands of Egyptians began to protest in the streets against poverty, unemployment, government corruption and the leadership of President Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled the country since 1981. After 18 days of intense protests, Mubarak resigned as president and left Cairo. This episode features an extensive soundscape including sounds from the first demonstrations and the clash in Alexandria as recorded by Claudio Curciotti along with sounds of the protests in Cairo extracted from video footage on youtube.
Alexandria: Soundscape of Revolution
Claudio Curciotti (or IQbit) is an Italian electroacoustic composer, a traveller and sound explorer. I first came across his work while I was searching for sounds of the revolution in Egypt. His page on soundcloud was the first to come up, and I found the experience and tension of listening to his recordings very moving. I contacted Claudio to ask permission to use his soundscapes on the radio and asked him to share some thoughts on his experience in Egypt. Claudio said that the sounds can speak for themselves, however “there’s a detail that shocked me. The moment of silence right after a shootgun”. Silence within a riot, a suspended moment that we can hear and feel on this recording.
The work of Claudio Curciotti can be followed on his new web project Field Abuse, made in collaboration with the photographer Eleonora Trani. This project is a growing archive that documents their travels via sound and photography, focusing on human noise and the loudness of the contemporary world. Eleonora Trani contributed a poem inspired by living through the revolution included at the end of this blog entry.
Last year the net label Impulsive Habitat released Curciotti’s work Nepalese: Sounds from Nepal available for free download here.
Ahmed Basiony & 4’33” Egypt
The first sounds on this episode come from a powerful live performance of the artist Ahmed Basiony extracted from a video footage of the 100Live Electronic Music Festival 2010. Ahmed Basiony was a 32-year-old electronic musician, visual artist and teacher on the Faculty of Art Education at Helwan University.
Ahmed Basiony (1978-2011)
Basiony died in the January 28 protests in Cairo, he was severely beaten by the Central Security Forces. According to some reports, he was shot five times, and his body was run over by a vehicle. You can visit his online memorial and read more about his life here. Dedicated to the memory of Basiony, the sound artist John Kannenberg posted a 4’33” field recording made outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo that can be heard at the end of the episode.
Throughout this episode we can also hear music from the Egyptian composer and musicologist Soliman Gamil - A Map of Egypt Before the Sands (Touch, 1997); some of the early work with manipulated wire recorders of the Egyptian composer Halim El-Dabh at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Studio; sounds from one of the radio albums of Sublime Frequencies, an Egyptian FM experience with Radio Palestine – Sounds of the Eastern Mediterranean; sounds from Ancient Egypt by the Lebanese ethnomusicologist Ali Jihad Racy; and excerpts from R. Murray Schafer’s musical and performance RA.
Alexandria. Darkness. Light
by Eleonora Trani
Light / I go out of my home/ Manifestation / I can’t come back home/ Tear gas, screams, gunfires/ A shelter to find / Darkness/ Curfew without peace/ More gunfires/ Infernal noises/ Tanks/ Fear/ Hope/ Light/ Another day/ Going out, walking, breathing/ Finding food/ Manifesting/ Ishab yurid iskat an nizam”/ The people want the system to fail/ I want the the system to fail/ It’s all about adrenalin/ For someone it’s a fatal attraction/ And our people is giving us bread/ Darkness/ Communication’s shut down/ Cooking, eating, chatting/ Pretending that everything is fine/ While in the road they keep shooting/ Darkness/ It’s impossible to sleep/ People is screaming down in the street/ We do not know who is who/ Those of the “police sect”/ They have opened the jails/ Armed the prisoners/ A man is being pulled along/ I don’t want to see/ A probable lynching/ They say/ He is a former policeman/ It’s better you don’t look out of the windows/ Light/ An enormous human magnet attracts me in front of the Ibrahim’s mosque/ “The people want the system to fail”/ I want the system to fail/ The sunshine/ A Mediterranean funeral of the martyrdoms of the revolution/ ” One of them was only 19 “/ ” Aren’t you scared of being here?”/ I’m not/ What protects me is/ This light in front of the Mediterranean and in the people’s eyes/ You see the light of fighting and dignity/ The bodies are coming out of the mosque, wrapped in the shroud/ The fever is getting higher/ But is a good and fair fever/ A longing for freedom/ I feel myself being under that shroud/ We all are that boy/ It is a universal fight/ We are at least ten thousands/ Walking, manifesting/ The people want the system to fail/ And I’m with them/ Darkness/ One more curfew/ Uncontrolled news/ They will cut water/ No, light/ Perhaps both of them/ They are shooting guns/ We look each other in the face/ We seem suddenly more aged/ And suddenly we are born again by the wind of the Revolution