The soundscapes of Cairo, for anyone who has experienced the city before, are a dense sensory experience of drone-like zahma at rush hour by day and techno beats in darkened party spaces by night. Seeking to carve out new spaces to experience sound and music is Mo7itat, a new event series which brings together sound artists for performances in ‘unusual settings’, and bucks the trend of viewing music solely as a clubbing experience.

The event series premiered in Diwan Bookstore in Heliopolis earlier this month, featuring a line up of slow, ambient music that would serve as background music to visitors reading, working, drawing and other meditative activities.

“We wanted to find physical spaces that let you listen differently,” Salah and Zizi, co-founders of Mo7itat, tell SceneNoise. “The idea is to create different states for the audiences, and create a different relationship between performers and listeners in the space that holds them.”

For Zizi and Salah, both musicians, the idea was borne out of a frustration with the current scope of places to perform as a musician in Cairo. “There’s a frequent feedback loop in Cairo that the venues for musicians are few and the audiences are fixed, so when performing at a party, you as a DJ or artist know what you need to play in order to get a certain reaction from the crowd,” Zizi says. “There’s often a lack of spontaneity or experimentation.”

Seeking to break the echo chamber, the curated line-up for the launch weekend was a diverse blend of live acts all using anything from complex synthesisers to simple kit, instruments, hardware and software. It was important that the artists were able to play what they would otherwise struggle to play at conventional nightlife events, and to view the experience as much as a chance for improvisation and public jamming as a traditional, rehearsed performance.

The feedback so far has been overall positive, they share, with people describing the opening event as a “breath of fresh air.” Something that also surprised the founders was the willingness of all 12 musicians and a sound engineer to do an improvised set on a volunteer basis, whilst the event series is still in its early stages.

“The event was meant to be one day long, but we extended it to two as the list of musicians was so long,” the founders tell us. “There’s an excess of non-commercial, non-club artists who see the value in live improv, and being present whilst performing. They’re just waiting for a space to do so.”

What venues and spaces can we expect to see Mo7itat hosting future events in? Salah and Zizi are keeping that one hush, so it seems that for now, we’ll just have to watch this “space.”