Shalabi Effect - Shalabi Effect - 2000


With all my illusion I present in this review the so far first album of this excellent Canadian band (Montreal), Shalabi Effect.


In one of these funny chances of life, I was one day at one of my favorite record store, eyeing the last new releases they had received. I then discovered a cover that, like you will see in the picture, it is exactly similar to that of the fabulous and never sufficiently praised album of the French band Nebelnest, a picture of some nebula clouds made by the Nasa.

I picked up the album and read in the cover art the following definition of the group: "A blend of middle-Eastern influenced folk with spacey electronic and psychedelic music… recommended for fans of No Neck Blues Band, AMM, Pink Floyd and Taj Mahal Travellers.

Obviously this definition and its list of influences (mainly the improvising band AMM and our Pink Floyd) attracted my attention, and when listening to some fragments of the album in the store, I decided to buy it (yes, in progVisions we purchase most of the albums that we review, and thus we maintain a total and radical independence, as we are the ones that spend the hard-earned money).

When arriving home, I was immersed in a hallucinating trip of 130 minutes of length through the interstellar galaxies, the deepest oceans, the highest mountains in this world, the universe in my ears, in short, I felt like floating and my mind began to wander... a real trip without any need of chemical complements

Shalabi Effect is formed by four multi-instrumentalists: Anthony Seck, Sam Shalabi, Alexandre St-Onge and Will Eizlini that play more than forty instruments such as drones, tabla, oud, sitar, guitars, scraped metal, string instruments and all kind of percussion. The band is accompanied in some fragments by other musicians that play violins, sax or the “Tibetan bowl". Only in a piece we can find vocal lines.

Mr. Shalabi, leading figure of the quartet, is related directly with the musical scene of Montreal, of amongst which we highlight monsters of the size of our adored (by Juan & José) Godspeed you Black Emperor!, or the not least interesting Fly Pan Am, groups that practice an exquisite space-prog-indie-western-rock mixture.

Shalabi Effect’s music can be obviously referenced to a more hypnotic and space oriented Godspeed, and to Pink Floyd's first albums post-Barrett, that is to say, "Echoes", "Atom Heart Mother", "Obscured by Clouds", but introducing in their cocktail some jazz, contemporary classic (in some passages they end up remembering the chamber sound of Univers Zero), ethnic music, krautrock (more Popol Vuh than Can), space music, as well as shades of post-rock and improvised music.

Surprisingly, in spite of the extensive length, 130 minutes in 2CDs and a total of 13 songs (5 in the first CD and 8 in the second), the album at no moment becomes too heavy or dense, neither it ends up being boring. In fact, I have discovered that you can listen to it so much as an accompaniment to other domestic chores as with headphones at night, appreciating all the multiple shades and developments. It is difficult to highlight some pieces above others, given the nature of the compositions of the group, although some remarkable ones are the long "Aural Florida" of 26 minutes, the vocal piece "On the Bowery", and the last song (of untranslatable name being written in Arabic). On the whole, I find appealing the excellent medley of sounds of this group, their degree of experimentation into all kind of sound patterns, and the excellent games between percussion and guitars that feed the whole album.


In summary, if you can get this marvel, don't hesitate. Recommended for the fanatics of space head progressive, without a doubt.

author - date - rating - label

José Nafría - January 2001 -   - Alien 8 Recordings