In 2000, non-profit organisation, MILL, was launched with the aim pushing experimental practices in music and supporting projects that are excluded of the Lebanese mainstream. MILL’s biggest initiative, Beirut’s Irtijal Festival, has crowned itself as the go-to annual gathering for new and innovative experimental music in the Middle East, as well as the oldest music festival out of Beirut.
This month, Irtijal returns for its 19th edition and will place in several venues between the 29th and 31st of March. The opening day at Metro Al Madina will feature three acts; John Butcher and Mark Sanders will bring their ‘Tarab Cuts’ concept, which sees them improvising over reworked recordings of classical Arabic and traditional Sufi music. Corfu-based group, Trigger Happy, will also perform their heavily sampled sounds using their blend of toys and electro-acoustic contraptions. Closing things, meanwhile, will be Lebanese noise duo, Two or The Drago,n featuring trumpeter Pablo Giw and tombak player Joss Turnbull.
Day two, Saturday March 30th, will be split between two venues. Things start in the afternoon at Ashkal Alwan with performances from Acte Vide alongside Praed’s Raed Yassin, followed by a dance, zapateado, oud, percussion and electronics performance by Yalda Younes and Khyam Allami. The event will then move Qarantina club, The Ballroom Blitz, where festival founders, Sharif Sehnaoui and Mazen Kerbaj, will take the stage as Rouba3i19.2. Lebanese talents, Jad Atoui & Jawad Nawfal, will showcase their modular synthesizer performances, with Egypt’s Nadah El Shazly and renowned German experimental producer, Thomas Brinkman.
The third and final day of Irtijal follows a ‘solo marathon’ theme with solo acts performing from start to finish at Zoukak Studio. Among those performing will be Lebanese guitarist, Fadi Tabbal, Egyptian singer/producer, Ayah Metwalli, santur player, Stefan Fraunberger, Cherif ElMasri’s Tarkamt, Thomas Brinkmann’s Klick and more. It's very difficult not to get lost in Irtijal’s 2019 mesmerizing lineup, but that’s kind of the point, no? RSVP your spot if you’re tired of listening to the same old stuff or you’ll just have to wait for 2020.