Land Of Kush - Against The Day
Montreal composer Sam Shalabi has played or found his way to be involved in many genres, including punk, free jazz, improv. Lately he's been compsijng for large ensembles, one of which is the 30 member Land of Kush. "Against The Day" is a five section piece whose foundation is haunting vocals, strings, and Shalabi's Oud.
Combining aspects of Arab pop with pysch, the piece begins with the eerie "The Light Over The Ranges," before moving into the more trippy, Arabesque "Iceland Spar." The more jazzy, frenetic "Bilocations" follows, creating a tension that is only made more explicit by the rocking, almost atonal title section. The final section, Rue de Depart," does little to offer resolution, its long percussive build-up leading to a Mothers-like swirl of horns before fading with a dreamlike oud leading the way.
Shalabi has called his recent work "protest music about Arabaphobia," a focus which began post-9/11 with 2003's "Osama." "Against the Day" is political only if you choose to see it as such. There are no explicit cultural messages here, beyond the foundation of the piece in Arab music, traditional and modern. But there is a lot to chew on musically, as Land of Kush create a soundscape at one prayerful and experimental.
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