The Playlist: Middle Eastern and north African music

John Doran takes a look at the freshest Egyptian electro chaabi, Israeli anti-militarisation sound art, stoner beats from Istanbul and Algerian grime

• Check out last month's playlist curated by John Doran

TURKEY: Dalt Wisney - Star Eyes EP

A big influence on beat makers across Turkey and Pakistan, young producer Dalt Wisney engineers smoke infused rhythms that call to mind J Dilla and Madlib as much as they do the aesthetic of Brainfeeder and WARP. He cut his teeth on goofy, stoner tracks while living in Karachi after discovering Fruity Loops and getting his hands on a Korg MS20 but since moving to Istanbul his sound has gone in a deeper, more psychedelic direction. And while we wait for his much anticipated new album, Wisney Land due out later this year (he claimed last November that he was whittling his way down from a potential 1,500 tracks) you can boggle your ears with his latest EP in the mean time.

ALGERIA: El Mahdy Jr - Lost Bridge

Hip Swiss French label Danse Noire which specialises in “transcendent” and “subversive” club music is releasing the killer Gasba Grime EP by Algerian producer El-Mahdy Rezoug on 9 June. Lost Bridge is the centrepiece track of the EP, premiered here today (a Blackest Ever Black/Killing Sound remix of Lost Bridge will be premiered on The Quietus on Monday). Should you be unable to wait until release day to hear more, the label have also assembled a teaser of the whole EP which you can listen to here.

PALESTINE: Checkpoint 303 - Pussy Riot Lo Fi Remix (Support Freedom Of Speech)

Checkpoint 303 are Pan Arabic dance music producers from Palestine and Tunisia, creating what they describe as “free music from occupied territories”. Their electro-dub and drum and bass uses the electric oud as a hook to draw people in to listen to the field recordings of people going about their daily routines while under occupation. If you want to download and listen to their entire first album, Checkpoint Tunes, from 2012, you can do from their website. Last year, operating under Creative Commons, they remixed the Pussy Riot track Kropotkin Vodka, mixing in news reports on the imprisoned band. This was the exciting result.

ISRAEL: Meira Asher - Fearless Radio_Refuse: Military.01

This is an extremely powerful piece by Israeli sound artist Meira Asher, who specialises in recording and processing the human voice. The young subject is Noam Gur who refused to serve in the Israeli Army and was then placed in military prison for 30 days. The work also features audio of Palestinian children being arrested by Israeli soldiers, taken from video shot by Issa Amro of the Hebron human rights press. Asher’s work also focusses on such issues as child soldiers in Sierra Leone and human trafficking for prostitution.

EGYPT: Various Artists - Cairo Liberation Front Meets Eurabia Mixtape

Europe’s best Electro Chaabi DJs Joost Heijthuijsen and Yannick Verhoeven aka Cairo Liberation Front have been attempting to spread the sound of the Egyptian Underground to the West from their base in Tilburg, Netherlands for nearly two years now. Their latest mixtape - unveiled exclusively here today - pokes fun at the Islamophobic hogwash concept of Eurabia. I talked to Joost recently about his love for the sound.

Can you explain what attracted you to the Electro Chaabi sound?

Joost Heijthuijsen: My band mate Yannick and I are always looking for new sounds. Suddenly one day we discovered this combination of things we weren’t usually into: the Auto-Tune of American hip-hop, the synths of Euro house and Arab rhythms. The Youtube videos had the energy of illegal raves or punk rock shows. And the music sounded great but we could not find anything out about it. Almost no Western media covered it, and all the communication between the artists was in Arabic. So we started searching and got lost in a maze of Facebook sites, Arabic blogs and download sites like Mediafire, where artists share their music. We grew up on rap, and just as Public Enemy mainman Chuck D once said that hip-hop was the CNN of black America, we thought that chaabi must be the Al Jazeera of the Arab youth. It doesn’t portray the political reality of Tahrir Square, simply the reality of everyday life in working class neighbourhoods, normally inaccessible for white middle class people like us. So we thought, via music we can maybe connect with their reality; to show that perhaps our Arab counterparts have more in common with us than we think. We also thought that we could promote this other Arab voice in the Western world. So we’ve started creating mixtapes, to show that the Arab world is not only a world of political revolution, but that there’s also the commonality of the reality of everyday life that we share.

Who are the key figures to you in the Chaabi scene?

Joost Heijthuijsen: Tiesto, Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley and Daft Punk. All the electro chaabi producers and rappers love them and try to create music just like them. But they do something different with it. Amr 7a7a and Figo are the main producers, responsible for the sound. The main rappers are Oka & Ortega, who have more of a pop appeal, and Sadat and Alaa Fifty Cent, who are more cutting edge with their lyrics. There's also another style, which Islam Chipsy represents. With his keyboard sounds he’s a virtuoso. Combining jazz fusion technique with tone-clusters that he fires with his fists.


1. مولد الهنجمه

2. Abd Elbaset – Hamoda Ya

3. MoStafa DiSha - 7amza El So3ir

4. MoStafa DiSha - Far7eT MeSho

5. Cairo Liberation Front – untitled [unreleased]

6. القمة وكوم الدكة - الصفحة الرسمية لدى جى فيلو

7. لوب مولد العربى توزيع البدراوى اكس ميوزيك

8. انا اللى بدعت التربتيت صلصه جيمى بوكشا توزيع سردينه

9. القمة وفرحة العزبة &&الصفحة الرسمبة لدى جى فيلو

10. DJ Alswa7 feat. Elswa7 – Hat Hot

11. Cairo Liberation Front – untitled [unreleased]

12. DJ ABOsahar - سمر الولعه

13. El8aBa Khaled – El Masry

14. Ede Elwad Labo - Ma7moud Rashad

15. مهرجان اتلفزيون غناء شاكوش وحتحوت توزيع محمود السواح

16. Figo, Sadat, Dezal & Kanca - Twzi3

17. Cairo Liberation Front – untitled [unreleased]

Thanks this month to Duncan Ballantyne, Tim Jones, Joost Heijthuijsen and Yannick Verhoeven

Please feel free to email suggestions for inclusion in future playlists to


John Doran

The GuardianTramp

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