Sam Shalabi has been involved in an array of phenomenal adventurous projects, from his trio The Dwarfs of East Agouza to his role as arranger and musical director in Jerusalem In My Heart´s album last year. This summer, the composer and musician finally announced the return of his large orchestral ensemble Land Of Kush with a new album, Sand Enigma, following 2013’s The Big Mango. Land of Kush had already enticed us with ‘Safe Space‘ and now a new magnificent track, ‘Domyat 1331’, has surfaced ahead of the album’s release on November 8th through Constellation. Shalabi commented on the new track:
“Domyat 1331 has 3 resonances – it is for my mom who was fading away into dementia while I was writing this section of Sand Enigma. Domyat is the town in Egypt where she was born on August 13 1931 – 1331 is also an “angel number” – if it keeps cropping up in your life it’s supposed to mean a guardian angel is watching out for you and sending you positive vibes (so say those who know of such matters)… The melody is a kind of paraphrase of a lullaby she used to sing to me when I was I kid and in the piece I tried to convey the arc of what was happening to her towards the end of her life. Also in a weird way this piece makes me think of Egypt right now and “her” (hopefully temporary) dementia…”
Sam Shalabi and his orchestral ensemble Land Of Kush have conquered us a long time ago. The composer and musician has been busy with many other projects, including his trio with Maurice Louca and Alan Bishop, The Dwarfs of East Agouza, and last year´s involvement in Jerusalem In My Heart´s album as arranger and musical director. But finally there´s a new Land of Kush album in sight, six years on from the release of The Big Mango, which was one of our 15 Album Picks of 2013. Entitled Sand Enigma, the record is “Shalabi’s most acute and accomplished big-band composition to date”, describes the press release. “with the orchestra on fire as they stir up a melting pot of Arabic tropes, avant-jazz, modern classical, freaknoise, electronics and sound art.”
“Safe Space” is the first tremendous track to emerge from Sand Enigma and we can´t wait to hear more. Listen to it below and watch out for the album release on November 8th through Constellation.
Land Of Kush, the large orchestral ensemble recruited and directed by prolific Montreal composer and musician Sam Shalabi, will release a new album this Autumn. The Big Mango, due out on October 1st via Constellation, is inspired by and dedicated to the city of Cairo where Shalabi has been residing since 2011. In Shalabi’s own words, The Big Mango is “a love letter to Cairo” framed by “the beautiful, surreal madness of the city…as joyous, horrific, historical events were unfolding”.
To get us enticed, an edit of ‘The Pit’, one of the marvellous standout tracks off The Big Mango,is now streaming. Here it is.