Sam Shalabi



by Zebra USER (177 Reviews)
May 17th, 2008 | 0 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is the closest I've ever came to being in Egypt.

Over the past five years or so Sam Shalabi has been a part of countless releases within Alien8 recordings. Whether he is releasing solo material, playing in other bands, or making music with his own band (Shalabi Effect) Sam Shalabi is constantly making and playing music. Like many other groups on Alien8 such as Merzbow, Acid Mothers Temple, Tim Hecker, etc, Shalabi has crafted a unique sound that no other artist can match. Eid is his fourth album and his first in five years mixing in his patented arabic/ambient sound that he has been producing for over eight years.

Instead of relying on one instrument Shalabi is a versatile musician incorporating keyboards, sitars, guitars, violins, brass instruments, and laptop effects into his sound. Songs such as “Jessica Simpson” and “Honey Limbo” contain simple melodies yet they feature mesmerizing arabian-esque guitar noodling backed by lush orchestrations of manipulated electronics and Egyptian chanting. The title track is easily the albums best cut as it makes the listener seem like he is roaming around Egypt boasting groovy sitar playing, sharp guitar chords, and classical violin playing. “Eddie” embraces haunting trumpet notes over a deranged woman calling from a telephone creating a strange atmosphere that makes the listener feel like he’s being hunted down by a killer. “End Game” is the albums poppiest moment featuring an upbeat rhythm section over Sam’s whimsical voice; it almost sounds like something off of a Beat Happening record.

While Eid is an interesting take on Egyptian music it definitely has its flaws. My main complaint is how some tracks overdo it on the experimentation and just sound goofy. Shalabi’s crooning vocals sound horrible on “Billy the Kid”; instead of creating a depressing sound Sam’s voice drones on so sourly that it’s almost impossible to listen to. Even worse the albums closer “Pitchfork” sounds like a complete mess of random drum hits, stagnant piano playing, and high pitched bleeping effects that float by in the background. At times there’s just too many backing sounds and instruments playing at once ruining Eid’s ambient quality. Even on the albums more simple, melody-based songs there’s some useless keyboard noises; Eid would be a better release if it were more stripped down and if Shalabi did less dicking around.

I expected a bit more from Sam Shalabi yet with that said Eid is a solid album. It does have its moments of beauty but the albums highs are equally balances by the couple of dud tracks that somehow made it onto the album. Eid is certainly a bizarre listen combining elements of electronic, ambient, and arabic-styled guitar playing together. As a result you get an album that involves many different styles of music yet in the end is just a bit to uneven to listen to on a regular basis.

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