CST066      CD 2x180gLP MP3 FLAC

"In the most positive way possible, an album which is, in a very literal sense, all over the place...elements of Middle-Eastern folk amongst a heavy dose of Western free-jazz, drone and psych-rock. The end result is a surprisingly coherent and thematically consistent record. The album never falls short of being sonically fascinating and if nothing else it serves as a reminder of how great it is that Constellation Records exists as an outlet for this kind of out-there, experimental LP."
Drowned in Sound

"The orchestration on this record is abundant, with two dozen musicians directed by a skillful conductor. The timbre and palette oozing with oriental psychedelia: groovy percussions, woodwinds, electronic drones and keyboards. All this held together with oud, strings and a healthy dose of free-jazz. But the music is also focused on songs, with the presence of four different singers throughout. Maybe it’s the whole idea of monogamy that made Shalabi pick only female singers for this release. Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, Molly Sweeny, Katie Moore and Ariel Engle are the vocalists invited by the composer to share their voices and writing skills on his peculiar relationship between sex and music. Each performed and wrote a song with gripping results; beautiful voices combined with well-thought lyrics, following the conceptual thread of this release. The closing track of the record is so beautiful that it almost made me weep." 9/10
Foxy Digitalis

"Sam Shalabi’s combination of Arabic traditional motifs and instruments with jazz, free improvisation and electronics has moved further out to truly stretch any notion of genre to breaking point. Land of Kush has rapidly become Shalabi's best project...sublime: the playing, the singing and the overall presentation of the music is spot on. Along with Against the Day, this is certainly one of the most unique albums of recent years."
Against The DayLand Of Kush   CD / 2x180gLP / DL
Stand With The Stillness Of This DayElizabeth Anka Vajagic   CD / 180gLP / DL
Kollaps TradixionalesThee SIlver Mt. ZIon Memorial Orchestra   CD / CD+ / 2x10" / DL
Ghosts Will Come
And Kiss Our Eyes
Hrsta   CD / 180gLP / DL
Ringing For The Begin AgainElfin Saddle   CD / 180gLP / DL
Prince Of TruthEvangelista   CD / 180gLP / DL

Sam Shalabi’s Land Of Kush project returns: his psych-arabic jazz orchestra has produced a second album of intensely genre-defying, polymorphic, big band madness. Where Shalabi structured last year’s mesmerising Against The Day album around the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, this time Shalabi tackles concepts of shame, sexuality and society in a new multi-movement work entitled Monogamy.

Rounding up many of the same Montreal-based improv and experimental players featured on Against The Day, Shalabi deploys a cast of two dozen musicians and sound artists to realise this fantastic new compositional hybrid of Middle Eastern tropes and Western vocabularies of jazz, psychedelia and experimental/free music. For the Monogamy album, the group has been given it’s own sub-moniker as The Egyptian Light Orchestra.

The band is a truly hydra-headed beast on this recording; string, brass and woodwinds careen around the drone/backbeat of the major movements, shifting between short melodic punctuations, free excursions, and consolidated unison lines. Dissonant piano, synth and electronics bubble below, above and at the outer limits of the mix. Several transitions also allow for various players to stretch out in some lovely virtuosic solo passages. Shalabi’s oud anchors the album’s opening and closing pieces, as well as the glorious “Tunnel Visions” piece at the album’s midpoint. The rhythm section – comprising standard trap kits, upright basses and traditional Eastern percussion – holds down one hypnotic groove after another.

Shalabi has once again structured his orchestral work to feature primarily female vocalists who further challenge the categorisation of the music, conjuring everything from Galas- or Ono-style ululation (“The 1st And The Last”) to cabaret/jazz (“Scars”) to ethereal psych-folk (“Tunnel Visions”). He also employs a recurring digitally-processed voice track of “dirty” glossal phrases and cut-ups that interacts rhythmically and conceptually with the work. This sonic through-line frames and re-frames the music as psycho-sexual commentary and narrative, imbuing Monogamy’s many stylistic moments and movements with a higher conceptual power: frustration/liberation, chastity/carnality, innocence/shame, purity/impurity. Of course there’s a ‘healthy’ dose of id at play here as well – particularly on “Fisherman”, where the emotionless, robotic voice takes over in a steady stream of irreverent, desecrating, potty-mouthed absurdism. The album’s title track “Monogamy” fittingly rallies the work’s conceptual terrain, with a gorgeous vocal melody spinning a concise alphabetised summation:

A is for the apple tree
B is for Beelzebub and he’s the snake
C is for the curse of Ham
D is for the drugs that you’re now forced to take
E is for eternity
F is for the fucking that you did outside
G is for the Giving Tree
H is for the Holy Spirit’s bride
And all of this comes out

In little birdlike trills
You’ll reach for paper towels
To clean up all your spills

Release Date: 31 May 2010 (Europe), 1 June 2010 (rest of world)
Running time: 66:03

Packaging notes
CD comes in a custom gatefold jacket printed on 100% recycled 18pt. paperboard with a matte UV varnish.
2 x 180gLP comes in a thick 24pt. jacket printed in balck with matte a UV varnish and 11"x11" art/credit insert.  First pressing of 500 copies includes a limited-edition 11" x 19" poster.

1. The 1st And The Last
2. Scars
3. Boo
4. Tunnel Visions
5. Fisherman
6. Monogamy
7. Like The Thread Of A Spider

Sam Shalabi, oud, composition & direction
Thierry Amar, contrebasse
Michel Bonneau, percussion
Nicolas Caloia, cello
Patrick Conan, percussion
Marie Davidson, voice
Luke Dawson, contrebasse
Omar Dewachi, oud & saz
Xarah Dion, synthesizers & piano
Ariel Engle, voice & verse
David Gossage, flutes
Genevieve Heistek, viola
Elizabeth Lima, clarinet
Katie Moore, voice & verse
Nadia Moss, synthesizers
Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, voice, verse & cassettes
Alexandre St-Onge, electronics
Jason Sharp, baritone & bass saxophone
Gavin John Sheehan, classical guitar
Molly Sweeney, voice & verse
Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, voice & verse
Nathan Ward, percussion
Josh Zubot, violin

Lyrics on “Scars” by Elizabeth Anka Vajagic.
Lyrics on “Tunnel Visions” by Katie Moore.
Lyrics on “Fisherman” by Ariel Engle.
Lyrics on “Monogamy” by Molly Sweeney.
Lyrics on “Like The Thread Of A Spider” by the peoples of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The voice of ‘Junior’ was written and recorded by Sam Shalabi and Gavin Sheehan.

“Boo” is an improvisation by Elizabeth Lima and Luke Dawson based on “Scars”.

Recorded & mixed at Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh in the autumn of 2009 & winter of 2010. Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market.