Home Culture Sounds of Africa Mold Rwanda-Born Musician’s ‘Afrique Concrète’ Music at Fez Gathering

Sounds of Africa Mold Rwanda-Born Musician’s ‘Afrique Concrète’ Music at Fez Gathering

After playing a song, Aurélie Lierman (right) listens as Fez Gathering organizer Omar Chennafi gives his thoughts.
After playing a song, Aurélie Lierman (right) listens as Fez Gathering organizer Omar Chennafi gives his thoughts.

By Lauren Peterson

Fez – The immemorial walls of the Fez medina could not deaden the symphony resounding from the ALIF Riad Friday evening.

Often raw, rumbling, and pulsating, only to dip into crude, windless echoes, the sometimes discordant sounds described something tribal and arcane, yet modern enough to lend itself to familiarity.   

Responsible for the concert is Rwanda-born and Belgium-raised Aurelie Lierman, who showcased her unique fusion of “radio art, vocal art, and composition” on day two of the third annual Fez Gathering, an international art convention held in the Fez’s historic medina.

Swiss photographer and Fes Gathering panelist Eva Maria Ocherbauer reacts as one of Lierman’s songs plays Friday at ALIF Riad in the Fez Medina.
Swiss photographer and Fes Gathering panelist Eva Maria Ocherbauer reacts as one of Lierman’s songs plays Friday at ALIF Riad in the Fez Medina.

Lierman shapes her unique sound by piecing together personally recorded sound-bytes from rural and urban contemporary East-Africa. The result, she calls “Afrique Concrète.”

According to Lierman, the focus of her style is not bound to the sound-bytes dictating its rhythm. In fact, her decision to colligate old Africa with new Africa plays into the more narrative aspects of her music. Her songs, as she says, tell stories.

“Storytelling doesn’t have to one line,” Lierman stated Friday. “It can go in different directions. It can be a labyrinth, like Fes.”

When asked how she imagines her music would transfer to visuals, Lierman refuted the premise, arguing instead that her music is not meant to be seen, and is best absorbed sonically; it is, after all, music.

Aurélie Lierman plays a song Friday at the Fez Gathering art program.
Aurélie Lierman plays a song Friday at the Fez Gathering art program.

“No image. I really love cinema, and am often inspired by images…but I think the sound will touch you deeper…I think sound is the most primitive emotion,” Lierman stated.

Recently, Lierman began developing “a set of site specific installations and electro acoustic compositions” for Dutch band Slagwerk Den Haag, which premieres this month.  

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