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land of kush's egyptian light orchestra - Monogamy
Sam Shalabi returns to his Land Of Kush project with this new concept album tackling notions of shame and sexuality. Monogamy follows on from Shalabi's excellent Thomas Pynchon-inspired Against The Day LP expanding the title of his ensemble with the Egyptian Light Orchestra suffix especially for this release. There are some twenty-four musicians and sound artists gathered for Monogamy, and you can certainly hear the scale of the endeavour; tapping into Montreal's experimental scene Shalabi co-ordinates players who clash together various Middle Eastern and Western musical idioms, all pinned together by a recurring computer-generated vocal narration detailing various lurid sex acts in queasily inarticulate detail. It's actually fairly difficult to properly represent all that's going on here, such is the extent of the cultural and ethnomusicological pile-up, but you can expect beautiful modal brass arrangements, intricate percussion, lots of far-out electronics and plenty of virtuosic oud routines from Shalabi himself. There's lots to admire about Monogamy, and the epic, multi-segmented 'Scars' provides a huge seventeen-minute highlight drawing on some great wind sequences that lead up to a wonderfully doomy string-led coda. Following on, 'Boo' temporarily finds Shalabi setting aside the obscene computer-voice monologue and delving into some incredibly astute Sun Ra-style free-roaming horn dissonance. On 'Tunnel Visions' the ensemble sound a little like a Middle Eastern Acid Mothers Temple (where the fuzzy electric guitar is replaced by an Arabic lute), getting all psychedelic with chirping background electronics and acid-folk woodwind, while later on, the title track unleashes some great abstract improv passages and gothic organ surges across a motorik synth-rock backbone. There's something new and unexpected around every corner of this album, and as was the case with its predecessor, Monogamy represents a major creative achievement from Shalabi and his cohorts.