Represented in North America
Maurice Louca is an Egyptian musician and composer born in Cairo where he lives and works. As well as being the co-founder of the bands The Dwarfs of East Agouza (with Alan Bishop & Sam Shalabi), Karkhana, Lekhfa (with Maryam Saleh & Tamer Abu Ghazaleh), Alif, and Bikya, he lends his sound to numerous projects, composing for dance, theatre, film and contemporary art.
Born in Cairo in 1982, he started on guitar at age 12, and became immersed in the music of the MTV era, as well as such 60s psychedelic mainstays as Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and the Doors. These were pre-Internet years in a country with state-run media, so access was scarce; tapes were dubbed and traded at school, along with bits and pieces of information. As the ’90s became the aughts, the reins were loosened on live music, and Louca’s tastes eventually expanded into classical and contemporary Arabic music, especially the street-level pop called shaabi, as well as the avant-garde and electronic music. Accordingly, his toolbox grew to include the synthesizer, laptop, sampler and drum machine.
Inspired by many influences, from psychedelic to Egyptian shaabi, Louca’s second album Salute the Parrot, released on Nawa Recordings in November 2014, shattered the confines of musical and cultural labelling and was dubbed by many as a game-changer for the region’s bustling independent music scene. He now performs this material as a live solo artist or as a trio.
Fast forward to 2019’s Elephantine, Maurice Louca’s third and most ambitious album to date. With Elephantine Louca departs once again to a new context, this time composing for a thirteen-piece band of brilliant musicians. He guides a 12-piece ensemble through a 38-minute masterwork that might best be described as panoramic. Elements of free improvisation, Sun Ra’s cosmic jazz, gorgeous Arabic melody, trance-like African and Yemeni music and minimalism meet in his wholly unique compositional vision. Louca also makes vital contributions on guitar and piano, and inspires stirring performances from a global lineup.
Certain components of Elephantine, especially Louca’s use of avant-jazz-style improv, a developing fascination, required the composer to go outside Egypt’s rich talent pool and tap players from Italy, Iraq, Sweden, Turkey and Denmark. The sessions, however, held in 2017 in Stockholm, made these efforts worthwhile. “There was a blessed thing about the process of making this record,” he says. “The dynamic between us musically but also as people … it was a very exciting time.”
In 2020 Maurice Louca will bring this material to North America for the first time with an ensemble of seven to nine players of his American based contemporaries.
Elephantine (Northern Spy/Sub Rosa, Feb 2019)
Carte Blanche by Karkhana and Nadah El Shazly (Unrock, Jan 2019)
Rats Don’t Eat Synthesizers by Dwarfs of East Agouza (Annihaya, 2018)
Both Sides Of The Curtain (Live In Beirut) by Dwarfs Of East Agouza (Unrock/Mophradat,
Lekhfa by Maryam Saleh / Tamer Abu Ghazaleh / Maurice Louca (Mostakell, 2017)
Al Dar Al Hamra LP by Karkhana (Unrock, 2017)
For Seun Mata LP by Karkhana (Holidays Records, 2017)
Nafas EP by Karkhana (Omlott, 2016)
Bes by Dwarfs of East Agouza (Nawa Recordings, 2016)
Aynama-Rtama by Alif (Nawa Recordings, 2015)
Salute the Parrot (Nawa Recordings, 2014)
Live At Metro Al Madina LP by Karkhana (Sagittarius A Star, 2014)
Garraya (100Copies, 2010)
Bikya by Bikya (100copies, 2007)
“Big, but clever with it, Elephantine is a dazzling, trance-like triumph.”- 4* Mojo
“Egyptian music is currently undergoing an energetic renaissance. Maurice Louca’s second solo album taps into this excitement. By opening up to everything around him, he has crafted remarkable music – dense, driven and splashed with colour.” – The Wire
“Each of these three musicians has an impressive history, but their debut album together is an edgy triumph” – 5* The Guardian
“Louca’s album is not shaabi, but shaabi’s explosive arrival is his context. He’s doing what artists are supposed to do – keeping his ears open and responding […] Salute the Parrot is an exhilarating homage to the teeming energy of Egypt – politically ravaged but musically irrepressible.” – The Wire
“Louca’s music works beyond the confines of simple description. Evocative, challenging and a must for the discerning improv/noise/world ear.” – Norman Records
“With Garraya, Louca has crafted a work of bruising intensity, and also unexpected beauty. This isn’t post-industrialist, or post-rock, but rather post-everything.” – Ali Abdel Mohsen, Egypt Independent