Brickwork Lizards began to take shape after a chance encounter at a party, when Egyptian vocalist and oud-player Tarik Beshir met Oxford Rap scene stalwart Tom O’Hawk. Discovering a mutual love of the 1930s harmony group The Ink Spots, they dreamed up an entirely new sound that would combine pre-war Jazz with Arabic and Middle Eastern music, paying tribute along the way to countless other styles.
Over the ten years since, Brickwork Lizards have refined their line-up, adding guitar, drums, trumpet and a string section, while building up a dedicated fan base with hundreds of gigs and festival appearances across the UK.
The band’s eight members draw on a wide range of musical experiences, from critically-acclaimed Arabic classical ensembles (Oxford Maqam) to chart-topping pop groups (Saint Etienne).
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Haneen is Brickwork Lizards second long-player, following the success of 2011’s Zaman. In Arabic, ‘haneen’ describes a feeling of nostalgic yearning, and bygone times and places haunt every song on this remarkable record. The band’s radical re-imaginings of traditional material from courtly dances of the Ottoman sultans to ancient English hanging songs evoke centuries of history and showcase a band adept at crossing borders and taking bold musical risks.
Brickwork Lizards are gearing up for a packed schedule in 2018, with live dates supporting the album release across the UK in January 2018.
“I can honestly say I have never heard anything like them before. ‘Higher’ starts with melancholy cello and ominous keys, segues into something like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, diverts into Russian folk, hops over to Egypt via singer Tarik’s oud, banjos and drums wrestle skiffle into jazz, before trumpets arrive and it finally bursts into Tom O’Hawk’s rhythm and rap. Parts of it sound like Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scheherazade’ mashed up with Public Enemy. No, but really. Every single instrument and vocal works. Pindrop? Jaw drop. Awesome.”
Oxfordshire Music Scene
“The band sound like nothing else around. They have the charm and style of the 30s and 40s with the haunting seductiveness of Middle Eastern music brought bang up to date with the occasional non-intrusive rap elements. The result is a ridiculously seamless and impressive sound that must be heard.”
BBC Radio Oxford