Noura Mint Seymali
Renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp– a leader in the New York arts community and a long-time supporter of ISSUE– plays a set of his signature solo guitar improvisations as part of Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain, an evening that includes sets by the arresting percussionist and former Artist-In-Residence Eli Keszler, and the Mauritanian duo Noura Mint Seymali & Jeiche Ould Chighaly. Combining Moorish sounds with influences spanning blues, jazz, reggae, hip-hop, and flamenco, Seymali’s songs address the political cultural spectrum of contemporary urban Africa.
Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain– a two-month festival celebrating ISSUE Project Room's 10th anniversary– revisits seminal past projects and initiates new relationships with over 60 artists working across disciplines of sound, dance, performance, and literature. Presented as a series of 24 evenings of provocative double billings, Ten Years Alive blurs the boundaries between divergent disciplines and practices and celebrating the vibrancy of the Brooklyn experimental arts community.
Elliott Sharp is a central figure in the avant-garde music scene in New York City of over thirty years and a long-time supporter of ISSUE Project Room. Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, he leads the projects Carbon,Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics and Terraplane, and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction. His collaborators have included Ensemble Modern; Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Radio-Symphony of Frankfurt; Debbie Harry, Perry Hoberman; blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Pops Staples; jazz greats Jack Dejohnette, Sonny Sharrock, Oliver Lake, and Billy Hart; turntable innovator Christian Marclay; and Bachir Attar of the Master Musicians Of Jahjouka, Morocco. Sharp’s work was featured in the New Music Stockholm festival (2008), at the Hessischer Rundfunk Klangbiennale (2007) and the Venice Biennale (2003, 2007).
Born in the Saharan capital of Nouakchott, Mauritania, Noura Mint Seymali started her career at the age of 13 as a backing vocalist with her step-mother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba. As member of a prominent Moorish griot family, Noura was born into music, steeped in the social history, song, and instrumental techniques of her culture from birth, an invaluable African education binding countless generations of griot. After touring internationally with Dimi Mint Abba as an adolescent, Noura developed a vision for her own band, eventually joining forces with her husband and guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, a prominent Moorish griot in his own right, to launch a contemporary ensemble in 2004. The music was called "tradi-moderne," an innovation using Moorish instruments at its core - the ardine (harp), tidinit (lute), and a specially adapted electric guitar - and fortified by Western bass (Ousmane Touré) and drum-set (Matthew Tinari). With the new band Noura and Jeiche expanded their music beyond its typical domain (namely weddings and receptions for dignitaries), combining Moorish sounds with influences spanning blues, jazz, reggae, hip-hop, and flamenco. Working with a dynamic group of musicians from across the cultural spectrum of contemporary Nouakchott- Moor, Pulaar, Wolof, French, American - and composing songs that address such prescient topics as women in Islamic society, desertification, economic development, terrorism in the Sahel, along with the more standard repertoire of love songs, devotional hymns, and historical folk narratives, Noura Mint Seymali has found resounding success among Mauritania's youth as she aptly represents the changing realities of urban Africa.
With a rapidly growing profile on the international stage, Noura Mint Seymali has performed at events like Festival-au-Desert (Mali), Festival Pirineos (Spain), Timitar(Morocco), and Hayy Festival (Egypt) and collaborated on-stage with such African music greats as Baba Maal, Tinariwen, and Bassekou Kouyate. In 2012 she represented Mauritania at the World Expo in Yeosu, Korea and in 2013 the band will serve as the national delegation to the Jeux de Francophonie in Nice, France. With two full-length studio albums to date - Tarabe (2006), and El Howl (2010), Noura Mint Seymali is preparing for the release of her third album Azawan (2013), having released an EP by the same name in 2012 as a mixtape. With undeniable talent and a voice that swells from the ground, Noura Mint Seymali is on track to become one of the next generation's great African divas, putting Mauritania on the map as she does so.
Eli Keszler is a composer, artist and multi-instrumentalist based in New York City. In performance, he often plays drums, bowed crotales and guitar in conjunction with his installations. In his ensemble compositions, he uses extended strings, motors, crotales, horns, and mechanical devices to create his sound, balancing intense harmonic formations with acoustic sustain, fast jarring rhythm, mechanical propulsion, dense textures and detailed visual presentations.