Khyam Allami
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Khyam Allami

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band World Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Resonance/Dissonance Review"

Born in Syria to Iraqi parents and raised in the U.K., Khyam Allami has multicultural musical roots. These eventually led him to master the oud, a Middle Eastern lute and characteristic fixture in Arabic maqam melodies. The seven long tracks on this album feature Khyam on the oud, unaccompanied by any vocals. The lilting melodies and meditative sounds display Khyam’s diverse and remarkable creative talents. A DVD is included that features all of the album’s songs and a bonus photo gallery with outtakes. Greece-born percussionist Vasilis Sarikis adds some sound to the video production. A great album that might turn you into an oud fan! - Verge Magazine

"Resonance/Dissonance Review"

I last saw Khyam Allami sharing the stage with the Master Musicians Of Bukkake at last year’s Supersonic festival. While there is plenty of scope to debate the provenance of that particular band of fakirs/fakers, this debut release leaves you in little doubt of the masterful Allami’s own credentials. An oud player of Iraqi descent, he recorded Resonance/Dissonance in London’s School Of Oriental and African Studies. The album is accompanied by a DVD of a performance in a rough, featureless warehouse (it could be almost anywhere, only the green emergency exit signs give away that it is in the UK) and there is something quite captivating about watching Allami, accompanied only by the occasional touch of daf, completely in communion with that large space, letting these stark, sparse notes ring out and resonate. The tracks on Resonance/Dissonance are all composed by Allami, with the exception of a version of a traditional Iraqi Maqam Nawa, here entitled “The Descent”. It is a beautiful piece which balances sections of near silence with angry strums of strings, and long, melodic phrases on traditional scales which vibrate with tension and weep with emotion. Like that blank warehouse, the presentation of Resonance-Dissonance gives absolutely nothing away, meaning-wise; however the overwhelming darkness of this music says it all.
(SM) - The Liminal

"Resonance/Dissonance Review"

The young London based Iraqi oud player Khyam Allami has been noted as a talent to watch for some time. Appearances around the city, at SOAS (London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies) and on BBC Radio 3’s World Routes programme, where he was the first recipient of their Academy scholarship, have all added to his profile. Yet for all that, the intensity and finesse of Resonance/Dissonance – his debut album – still comes as a surprise. From its deep and very deliberately plucked opening notes to the final extended fade on Reverie, this is not only a vibrant and engaging piece of music, but a work of surprising maturity.

Although, as on the bonus DVD, Allami is often accompanied live by a percussionist, this recording is completely solo and allows Allami to stretch out and maximise the largely reflective qualities one associates with a style of playing where the essence of a tune is explored in the course of the piece as it gains in complexity. His compositional style is based around the classical Iraqi musical system of maqam and his oud playing contains an edge that distinguishes the modern Iraqi style. But Allami has also studied widely around the Middle East and achieves variety from a number of sympathetic influences.

Not all are as measured and sedate as the opening piece, although many do contain a thoughtful, meditative tone and descending scale. Others – most notably in the title of Naghmat Tahrir (Tahrir’s Theme) – betray a more topical awareness. In the course of a single piece his playing may often change subtly in both its intensity and tonal colour, shading in and out of moods as moving clouds might chase across the sun and incorporating hints of anything from baroque delicacy to flashes of flamenco. Material varies from the clarity and bright arpeggios of tracks like Tawazan I (Balance) and An Alif (An Apex) to the more mellow classical moods of Tawazon II and The Descent – a traditional composition in Maqam Nawa. Also importantly, the live launch performances for this album have shown that not only can Khyam Allami’s playing hold a young audience, but that the moods and music of Resonance/Dissonance can be just as spellbinding in a live setting.

- Phil Wilson - fRoots

"Resonance/Dissonance Review"

If the Middle East’s disruptions have made albums by stateless Arab lute virtuosi thick on the ground over the past few years, this one by a London-based Syrian rock drummer and relative newcomer to the instrument feels different. While the music conforms to Arab classical forms, its pensive, minimal contemporary feel could do for the oud what Rodrigo y Gabriela have done for the Spanish guitar - The Telegraph

"Resonance/Dissonance Review"

Khyam Allami is a London-based musician of Iraqi descent. Last year he was the chosen musician of BBC Radio 3's World Routes Academy, which enabled him to travel back to the Middle East and perform at the Proms. This is his debut album and it shows Allami to be a master of the Arabic oud (lute), with a slow magisterial opening, full of rich sonorities. The CD is entirely solo oud, with An Apex, its most avant-garde track, at its centre. Using traditional Arabic scales, Allami shows how innovative the music can be. An accompanying DVD has an atmospheric performance of him performing the same repertoire with percussionist Vasilis Sarikis. A musician worth catching live.
SIMON BROUGHTON - Evening Standard

"Resonance/Dissonance Review"

Born in Syria to Iraqi parents and now based in London, Khyam Allami was once best known for his percussion work on the indie rock circuit, and though he's still the drummer for Knifeworld he now has a very different musical speciality as an inventive and increasingly skilful exponent of the oud. On a remarkable album earlier this year, the Palestinian Trio Joubran showed how the Arabic lute can be used not just for backing work or solos but for complex and varied compositions, and Allami's debut album is a further reminder of its potential. This is a set of solo instrumental pieces (though he is joined by a percussionist for a live performance of the entire album on the accompanying DVD) and all but one are self-composed. They range from slow, thoughtful and drifting passages, based around single-note playing and repeated phrases, through to flurries of more rapid-fire strummed playing, as in the jaunty and engaging An Alif. Allami may be influenced by traditional Middle Eastern modal systems, but he's an original; there are constant changes of mood and direction.
- The Guardian

"Top of the World - New young oud master"

A solo oud recording is an ambitious undertaking for any player. Even if you can hold your listeners’ attention for an hour with only a single melodic line, there is another more particular problem. An oud taqasim (instrumental improvisation) is, by its very nature, of the moment – a spontaneous invention inspired by a chosen mode. Make it too impulsive and it may not bear repeated listening; structure it too carefully and it can lose its sparkle. Remarkably few players get this balance right. But Khyam Allami’s first album nails it to perfection.

Having started playing the instrument only seven years ago, this Damascus-born London resident is a relative newcomer to the oud; nonetheless he is already an exceptionally refined and graceful performer. He epitomises the best of the new generation of oud players whose roots lie in the Eastern tradition but who also judiciously draw on a wider range of contemporary influences.

While Allami may not have the celestial touch of Driss El Maloumi or the mercurial fire of Naseer Shamma, his compositions are utterly bewitching. Included with the CD is a 50 minute DVD of Allami playing live with percussionist Vasilis Sarikis in a vast Bermondsey warehouse, the ideal backdrop for his stark meditations. To describe Oriental music as hypnotic sails precariously close to Victorian cliché, but it is the best description of Khyam Allami’s mesmeric style.

Bill Badley - Songlines


Solo releases
June 2011 - Resonance/Dissonance (Nawa Recordings)

Jan 2012 - World Routes On the Road (Nascente)



It’s not often that you stumble on a musician at the start of his career who’s biography is as intriguing as Khyam Allami’s. Since taking up the ‘ud (or Oud, Middle Eastern Lute) in 2004, he has already generated a “palpable buzz” about him and “left a trail of unforgettable live performances in his wake” according to the UK’s fRoots Magazine who recently put him on their cover.

Whether at small independent venues, Birmingham’s alternative/experimental Supersonic festival, WOMAD or the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Khyam is yet to falter in making his audience revel in the lucid beauty of his music.

Born in Damascus, Syria to Iraqi parents in 1981, Khyam took up the violin at the tender age of 8 when he played the role of a young violinist in the art-house film Al- Tahaleb directed by Rimon Butrus (1991). After his family moved to London in 1990, he soon dropped the violin and in 1996 began to play Drums and Bass Guitar. He co-founded the independent rock groups Ursa and Art of Burning Water and slowly garnered a reputation as one of London’s most passionate and hard-hitting drummers.

Yet something was still missing. In 2004 his path took yet another turn and he began to study the ‘ud, Arabic music theory and traditional Iraqi repertoire with the London based Iraqi ‘ud maestro Ehsan Emam. Quite the de-tour.

In the following years he dedicated tirelessly to music and travelled across the Middle East to study with ‘ud maestros Naseer Shamma and Hazem Shaheen in Cairo, Egypt and Mehmet Bitmez in Istanbul, Turkey. In the process he received various grants, awards and scholarships and completed two degrees in Music (BA, MMus) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

In 2010 his dedication and hard work was recognised nationally when he became the first recipient of the prestigious World Routes Academy scholarship from BBC Radio 3.

The project culminated in two spectacular performances at WOMAD 2010 and as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by Italian master percussionist Andrea Piccioni, both broadcast live on BBC R3 and well received in the major UK press (Guardian, Evening Standard, Telegraph, Times).

Although perceived as a performer of “traditional” music, it’s clear to any learned ear that there is something different about Khyam’s ‘ud playing. His interweaving melodies and rhythmic flourishes respecting traditional forms and structures, whilst always hinting at an elsewhere slowly being discovered.

The 2011 release of his widely acclaimed album Resonance/Dissonance on Nawa Recordings was lauded as “a firm reminder of the oud's potential" (The Guardian) and led to a nomination for the Songlines Music Awards in the Newcomer category, cementing his reputation as one of the most inventive and aspiring young musicians on the UK and Arab music scene.