Maurice Louca, the Egyptian multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Cairo, comes to North America for the first time this May performing music from his most recent album, Saet El-Hazz (The Lucky Hour). The experimental guitarist is best known as the co-founder of the Dwarfs of East Agouza, Karkhana, Lekfha, and many other projects.
Born in Cairo in 1982, he started on the 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.
Louca’s interest in microtonal instruments originated in synths and keyboards but didn’t stop there. He plays a reconfigured acoustic guitar altered with the metallophone strips of a gamelan, acquired at an Indonesian festival. The sound, which can be heard on Saet el-Hazz, is completely unique.
Special guest Jake Meginsky opens the evening. He approaches modular synthesis with the mind of a drummer, improvising with kaleidoscopic polyrhythms and microtonal tuning systems.
Maurice Louca’s performance is part of an on-going series, Guitar Voices, presented by Laudable Productions.