An innovative new album that fuses traditional Egyptian music with modern electronica while addressing the global climate crisis and spiritual issues is nearing release thanks to significant input from the University of Huddersfield.
The band are Electric Sufi, a trio comprising of the University’s Professor Rupert Till, vocalist Sarah Yaseen and multi-instrumentalist Mina Michael Salama and the album is Breathe In Love, which has been preceded by the single O Ignis Spiritus.
Blending electronica, Sufi singing and Arabic instrumental virtuosity, the trio aim to promote engagement with climate change issues through their music, drawing traditions together rather than pushing them apart.
The album’s vocals were recorded in the music department’s recording studios, videos for three singles were filmed in the new Stewart Film Studios, and the group’s PR photos were taken in the photographic studios in the Barbara Hepworth Building by Dr David Lake.
With its bed of electronic drones and ebow guitar setting the scene, Electric Sufi’s interpretation of O Ignis Spiritus, a mediaeval chant by St. Hildegarde, is a mesmeric performance that sees a Muslim Sufi woman singing ancient Christian music written by a Christian woman.
This embodies their mission of bringing traditions and ideologies together in a harmonious and creative way to precipitate solving the big issues of the day like climate change and societal division.
Rupert Till says, “It’s a perfect introduction to our sound and what we’re looking to achieve. Mixing ancient melodies and song from various cultures with cutting-edge recording techniques and our own personal backgrounds is an expression of what can be achieved in the world when differences are set aside and we all work together.
“Climate change in particular is the main challenge facing us all and togetherness is a great facilitator for bringing about the change in mindset needed to resolve such big issues.”
As well as his role as Professor of Music at the University, Rupert is an acclaimed musician and DJ under the name of Professor Chill.
Sarah, whose family roots are in Kashmir, is known in world music circles as a singer in UK Womad favourites Rafiki Jazz and Danish all-woman ensemble Radiant Arcadia. In Electric Sufi she sings in Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Latin and English – and by doing so, draws upon a wide range of cultural influences. Mina, a Coptic Christian from Alexandria, Egypt, came to the UK in 2002, having been a soloist in the Cairo Opera. He has since performed at WOMAD, Edinburgh Festival, The Southbank, London as well as Cardiff, Leicester, Manchester and beyond. Along with Rupert, Mina has also contributed to the BBC TV series Civilisations where he demonstrated a 30,000-year-old Isturitz Vulture bone flute. On an international level, Mina has contributed to the music score on Disney’s Aladdin, directed by Guy Richie and starring Will Smith.