Our third show of 2018 combines new traditions from unlikely corners of the globe; Cairo, Egypt and Crousetown, Nova Scotia.
Representing Egypt’s capital is composer/vocalist Nadah El Shazly. She arrives in Halifax on a heaping wave of year-end praise for her 2017 debut album, Ahwar, which The Quietus called “a perfect amalgamation of traditional Egyptian song with experimental takes on performance and instrumentation […] that will haunt your dreams for days after listening”. Ahwar, meaning ‘marshlands’, is one of the most striking debuts in recent memory. With an effortless allure, El Shazly hoists major elements of jazz, chamber, classical and electronic composition, twisting them ever so slightly, to reveal uncommon emotionality and rigour. Steeped in a diverse range of influences from the Arabic world, and showcasing a voice distinctly her own, El Shazly’s music achieves a rare feat: sounding both classic and cutting edge at once.
From a secluded outpost on Nova Scotia’s mystical South Shore, junked-analog duo JOYFULTALK conjure micro-climate trance music. The brainchild of instrument builder and jazz-fried alchemist Jay Crocker, JOYFULTALK offer up new concepts on regionalism. Admittedly influenced by the craggy treelines and flowing rivers of Lunenburg county, Crocker and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Dicey’s gnarled jamscapes render natural spaces in a hazy parallel universe.
Accompanying this concert, Nadah El Shazly will be offering a free artist talk, exploring some of the disperate and historical sources that influence her work:
Nadah El Shazly Artist Talk Halifax Central Library - Creative Lab Saturday March 31st | 3pm FREE / All Ages
Halifax Central Library is accessible with both gendered and non-gendered accessible washrooms.
Nadah El Shazly
Starting out singing Misfits covers in a local punk band, then moving on to producing her own electronic tracks and making a name for herself in Cairo’s underground scene, Nadah El Shazly’s backstory is not that unusual. Her debut album on the other hand, is an entirely unexpected story.
Two years in the making, Ahwar (Arabic for marshlands) is an otherworldly record, not unlike an abstract mythological story-tale. Opening with the mangled and filtered vocals of the album’s lead track Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory) like an alien dream, the drones of a bowed double bass lead us into a drum groove that lays the groundwork for El Shazly’s sultry and captivating presence, singing: “(I am) coming, from a time far away. Going, escaping. Alone in the wilderness”.The Arabic prose lingers over interjections of slap-back delayed guitar twangs and an avant garde arrangement of dissonant winds, horns and seemingly random drum fills, ending with an eerie soundscape that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Giallo classic. A daring and potent statement that sets the foundations over which the rest of the album can unravel.
Composed, written and produced by El Shazly herself in collaboration with The Dwarfs of East Agouza’s Maurice Louca and Sam Shalabi on co-composition and arrangement duties, the album was crafted across two continents, between Canada and Egypt, and features the crème of Montreal’s contemporary-classical and improvised music scene, most of whom aremembers of Shalabi’s own Land of Kush ensemble. In between El Shazly’s five original tracks, we are treated to an abstract coverversion of Sayyid Darwish’s classic Ana ‘Ishiqt (I Once Loved). El Shazly’s haunting vocal floats over broken Kalimba and Harp arpeggios which slowly intertwine with a free, bowed double bass improv to nestle within the breaks between Younes Al-Qadhi’s early 20th century verses of love and betrayal.