Release Party

Cheikh Efrita

the Feb 10, 2024

Door Opening

Saturday, 10 Feb at 8:00 PM


Saturday, 10 Feb at 9:00 PM

Today, Monograph presents the eponymous debut album from the Cheikh Efrita project, illustrated by Alex Baladi.

Monograph is an independent label entirely dedicated to the creation of original, one-off vinyl albums, with cover art by an artist.

Behind the Cheikh Efrita project is Benjamin Efrati, a multimedia artist of Franco-Tunisian origin. His work, combining digital art, drawing and performance, has been exhibited at the Institut Français de Tokyo (2013), FIAC (2015), Nuit Blanche Paris (2017), Next to Hojo Komuten Gallery Tokyo, (2022) and Dimensions Art Center Chongqing (2023). As a composer, he also produces soundtracks for animated films such as Amok, directed by Balazs Turai and produced by Terry Gilliam (2022), or for artists' films such as The New Kid, Arnaud Dezoteux (2020) and Inner Feels: Everything Flows, Carin Klonowski, (2023).

Cheikh Efrita is inspired by Cheikh El Afrit, the pseudonym of Issirène Israël Rozio. The artist name of this Tunisian singer evokes a sort of 'Mr Demon' with a voice so beautiful it seems to come from another world. Benjamin Efrati began learning about old and popular Tunisian music in 2008, and when he discovered the existence of Cheikh El Afrit in 2018, he began composing the first tracks that would become the Cheikh Efrita project. The eponymous album 'Cheikh Efrita' is built on the tension between oriental sounds and synthetic textures, fusing North African music and electronic cultures, creating a syncopated, psychedelic musical style. Cheikh Efrita reinvents a century-old Tunisian musical repertoire, projecting it into the present through a stylistic palette ranging from Breakbeat to Footwork, IDM to Hyperpop and Post-Club.

He composes from Tunisian archive music from the 1920s-1950s, and pays tribute to 7 artists, most of them famous singers: Cheikh El Afrit, Habiba Msika, his aunt Leila Sfez, Saliha, Louisa Tounsia, Fritna Darmon, and the Bnat Chemama ensemble. Reinterpreted in this way, these pieces offer a surprising diversity of rhythms and harmonies. New motifs and tensions emerge from the sound properties inherent in the very quality of the archives, in a spirit of vibrant, sensitive musical experimentation.

The tracks on the 'Cheikh Efrita' album speak of love, nostalgia, joy and sorrow: for example, Habiba Msika's revisited song, Ala Srir Ennoum Dalaâni, is part of the feminist revolution already underway in 1920s Tunisia. As the most complex character on the album, it is her portrait, revisited by Baladi, that features on the album cover. The song Ya Hasra, by Cheikh El Afrit, under the guise of a nostalgic phrase, is a biting satire of life as a couple, with the wicked conclusion that "old age can never be cured".

By recomposing these tracks using resolutely paleo-futuristic tools, and by deconstructing the codes of electro through the use of archives, the album telescopes a contemporary vision of the party with the unleashed atmosphere of concerts in Tunisia in the Roaring Twenties as we can imagine it from written sources.

After an initial tour in 2023 (Belgium, France, China), the release of 'Cheikh Efrita' will be followed by further concerts in 2024, notably in Tunisia, France, Switzerland and Turkey.