Ottoman Slap will debut their album at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown

2015-06-30 14:58

Cape Town - Cape Town based Ottoman Slap's eclectic musical offering includes traditional numbers and adaptations of songs from places such as Romania, Andalusia and Algeria, as well as original compositions influenced by Balkan and Middle-Eastern music, with mesmerising Tribal Fusion bellydance as the highlight.

"An Itinerant Tale through Music and Dance" is an unusual, unique show featuring traditional instruments from different parts of the world. It is a fascinating fusion of world styles and, importantly, an integration of dance and music 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."

(Photo: Hewitt Wright Creative)

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 "a loud", 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 had performed as a dance and percussion duo (Marissa & The Steady Tiger)."

The band has just recorded and produced their debut album, entitled 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. The album 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.

Listen to one of the tracks off the album, Aquel Ruido, here.

Ottoman Slap members are:

Raoul Spiegel: saxophone, hulusi and saw.

Doug Armstrong: trumpet.

Simoné Chiara: lead vocals, guitar and percussion.

Marissa Cuenoud van Minnen: Tribal Fusion bellydance, accordion and percussion.

Callan Wolff: double bass.

James van Minnen: mandolin, percussion and hybrid drum kit.

NAF show dates:

From 2 to 5 July Ottoman Slap will be performing at the Rhodes Club.

Times are as follow: 2 July: 19:00 3 July: 17:30 4 July: 17:00 5 July: 14:00.

Tickets can be booked here

Full price is R60 and student price is R54.

Other upcoming shows:

Sunday 28 June: Ottoman Slap at Wild Spirit Backpackers, The Crags. Garden Route. Contact 082 828 8008 to book.

Tuesday 30 June: Colonial Kitchen, 1 Bridge Street, Port Elizabeth.

Booking can be made here.

Saturday 8 August: The Annex, Kalk Bay.

Friday 25 September: Villa Pascale, Durbanville.

Sunday 6 December: Christ Church Constantia Concert Series.

Follow them on Twitter and their website. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.