Ottoman Slap Brings Middle-Eastern Balkan Fusion to Grahamstown National Arts Festival
17 Jun. 2015

Ottoman Slap Brings Middle-Eastern Balkan Fusion to Grahamstown National Arts Festival


Cape Town-based Ottoman Slap’s eclectic musical offering includes a collection of more traditional numbers, as well as adaptations of songs from far-flung locations such as Romania, Andalusia and Algeria. The outfit also includes original compositions influenced by Balkan and Middle Eastern music, with mesmerising Tribal Fusion bellydance as the highlight of the show.

Ottoman Slap 3b

An Itinerant Tale through Music and Dance” is an outlandishly unusual, unique experience featuring traditional instruments from all over the globe. It’s a fascinating fusion of world styles and, more importantly, a seemingly effortless integration of music and dance to create a spectator experience that is unforgettable.

In the words of Ottoman Slap percussionist James van Minnen: The band formed around our passion for what is considered exotic music. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to be playing Arabic, Gypsy and Balkan-inspired music in South of Africa, for some reason, there is something in Middle-Eastern culture that we feel at home with and which feels like a very natural stylistic form of expression for us. These artistic styles and culture are deeply embedded in many things we consider in the Western world as “normal”, “domestic” or “native”. For example, it was the Moors from North Africa who introduced to medieval Spain and Europe not only much of the technology we use today, but also the distinct style of music that influenced flamenco as well as “al oud”, the ancestor of the guitar, which is now synonymous with pop, rock and most Western musical styles. Also, it was Malay tradesmen and sailors who came to the Cape in the 19th Century who brought with them amongst other things, the arabic Ayoub rhythm which is central to Gouma music, considered an inseparable part of Cape Culture.”

Marissa Cuenoud van Minnen adds a special feel to the show with her bellydancing during performances. She says: “Another common passion is that of honouring the roots and origins of where we stand now. I have been a bellydancer for the last 15 years and of course these rhythms and melodies are a big part of this. Before Ottoman Slap, James and I performed as a dance and percussion duo (Marissa & The Steady Tiger).”

Cd Cover A

The band has just recorded and produced its debut album, Idiomatic, and will be launching it during their week of performances at NAF. The album features six original compositions and three adaptations of traditional numbers, and was recorded by Doug Armstrong (also a member of the band) at the home of some of the band members, under a thatched roof and with plenty of mate tea to keep the energy levels going.

Doug says: “We chose to record the album in an environment which captured the idiosyncratic and quirky nature of the band and its music. So of course we ended up in James and Marissa’s attic.” James adds: “This way, we were able to maintain a balance of domestic charm and exotic fancy, recording in amongst the laundry, visits from children, wild bird calls and a touch of load shedding.” The album was mixed and mastered by Simon Ratcliffe of Sound and Motion Studios, in association with Rootspring Productions. You can listen to one of the tracks below. Details for their NAF performances below.

NAF SHOW DATES:

Ottoman Slap will be performing at the Rhodes Club:

– 2 July: 19:00
– 3 July: 17:30
– 4 July: 17:00
– 5 July: 14:00

Book Tickets Here.
Full price is R60 and student price is R54.

OTHER UPCOMING SHOWS:

Tuesday 30 June: Colonial Kitchen, 1 Bridge Street, Port Elizabeth
Sat 8 August: The Annex, Kalk Bay
Friday 25 September: Villa Pascale, Durbanville
Sunday 6 December: Christ Church Constantia Concert Series

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Nick Frost

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