Experimental duo Kefaya collaborated with the cream of the world's musicians, using contemporary production techniques from the worlds of pop/rock and electronica to create a fresh, state-of-the-art spin on world music, as on their 2019 album with Afghan singer Elaha Soroor, Songs of Our Mothers.
Kefaya was formed in 2012 in London by two instrumentalists and producers, Italian Giuliano Modarelli (guitar) and northern Englishman Al MacSween (keys), who bonded over both music and an internationalist political stance. For their name, they chose the Arabic word for "enough" -- a rallying cry of the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprisings across the Middle East. Traveling through Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent, they met and recorded artists from various international folk traditions, using their playing as raw material in their studio productions. Their 2016 self-released debut album, Radio International, drew on themes of internationalism, freedom of movement, immigration, and social struggle, and was structured like a radio broadcast, with samples of interference and DJ chatter between the songs. Critically acclaimed, it won them best newcomer at the 2017 Songlines Music Awards. Their live band, which performed at many major festivals including Womad, Celtic Connections, and Latitude, featured a shifting and eclectic cast of international musicians all famous in their own right, including Italian saxophonist Daniele Sepe, Cuban violinist Omar Puente, Indian drummer Sarathy Korwar, and Kurdish vocalist Olcay Bayir. Later, the core band coalesced around Belgian drummer Joost Hendrickx and Italian bassist Domenico Angarano. Signing to Bella Union for their second album, they teamed up with Afghan protest singer Elaha Soroor, herself a refugee. The result was 2019's Songs of Our Mothers, a collection of traditional Farsi women's folk songs reinterpreted through myriad genres from jazz and dub to Indian classical, electronica, and electric rock. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi