Land Of Kush is a large collective assembled and directed by Montreal composer and musician Sam Shalabi. Six years after The Big Mango, they announced the release of a new full-length. Sand Enigma is out on November 8th via Constellation Records. We already shared “Safe Space” and “Domyat 1331”; “Trema” is a new excerpt which features Nadah El Shazly.
Sand Enigma is a culmination and consolidation of various musical themes, threads, relationships, and friendships between Montreal and Cairo. The current version of the ensemble now features two of Shalabi’s closest musical collaborators in Egypt: the aforementioned Nadah El Shazly (vocals) and Maurice Louca (keyboards/electronics), plus Adham (Eddie) Zidan, a producer and musician Shalabi works with regularly in Cairo. The ensemble also picked up new members from North America (including guitarist Vicky Mettler, saxophonist Adam Kinner, santur player Amir Amiri, cellist Mark Molnar, harpist Sarah Pagé, and vocalist Maya Kuroki) along with longtime Kush contributors Jason Sharp, Dave Gossage, Josh Zubot, Pat Conan, and Liz Lima. Together, the ensemble has opened up a new sonic palette and brought life to Sand Enigma: the most complex, nuanced, and ambitious composition to date for Land Of Kush.
Sam Shalabi performs constantly on electric guitar and oud, with regular appearances in numerous jazz and free improv ensembles, membership in a kaleidoscope of avant rock bands, and at the compositional helm of various musical assemblages large and small. Shalabi has released dozens of albums over the years under his own name, with Shalabi Effect (on Alien8 Recordings), and as a member of The Dwarfs Of East Agouza, Karkhana, Jane And The Magic Bananas, and Moose Terrific. He also has ongoing projects with Nadah El Shazly, Maurice Louca, Matana Roberts, Brahja Waldman, Radwan Moumneh, Oren Ambarchi, Tamara Filyavich, Eric Chenaux, and many others. As a collaborator, he has worked on albums with Jerusalem In My Heart and served as an arranger, producer, and musician on Nadah El Shazly’s debut album Ahwar. In addition to the genre-defying compositions for larger ensembles captured on his eponymous albums, Shalabi has also mounted several live performances and commissioned compositions for hybrid orchestras that have gone largely undocumented.