Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a must-have seven-inch containing two curiously off-kilter cuts from obscure "beat generation" bands of the early 1960s. Der Evergreens "Es Lilin" (that's "Ice Lolly" in English, apparently) is a sun-kissed rhythm and blues cover of a Sudanese love song recorded in Rotterdam in 1965. It's fairly short but very, very sweet. Arguably even better is Les Jaguars De Casablanca's 1962 cover of surf classic "Gonzales". The band was truly international - Spanish and French guitarists and a Moroccoan rhythm section - and on the resultant recording you can tell. Think of it as an "outernational" take on the Shadows, and you're close.
Review: Moroccan musician Abdou El Amari was arguably one of the first composers to combine traditional North African music with contemporary Western styles. Amazingly, he only ever released one album: 1976's much sought-after Nuits D'Ete Avec Abdou El Amari. Original copies of that set are notoriously hard to find (if you do score one, it would cost you nearly a grand) making this reissue something of a surprise treat. It's a set of "Arab electronics" - a curious mixture of intoxicating organ motifs, Middle Eastern rhythms programmed on dusty early drum machines, quirky synthesizer melodies, and copious amounts of hashish-inspired tape delay. Even all these years on, it still sounds utterly bonkers, and is well worth further investigation.
Review: First issue of this previously unreleased Oriental psych monster from the 'organ king of Casablanca and second part of Abdou El Omari's Nuits-trilogy combining traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. This album contains heavenly compositions for the Moroccan diva Najma Samih and some moody instrumentals in a similar vein to the first album. A very curious mixture of traditional Middle Eastern Music with lounge, and even rock music style drumming on several tracks. High quality pressing. Artwork and label design by Pieter Heytens.
Review: '70s Arabic psychedelic funk, courtesy of Hany Mehanna on this reissue by Belgian retoverts Radio Martiko. An Egyptian musician and composer, Mehanna played as a young, talented organist next to stars like Oum Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez and was a member of Ahmed Fouad Hassan's Diamond Orchestra - one of the country's finest. Up to this day he still writes for various Arabic artists and composes scores for Egyptian movies and series. This is (according to the label) a 'belly dance holy grail from the organ king of Cairo.. as good as it gets!' Originally released in 1973, 'The Miracles of the Seven Dances' is a work of pure genius that combines traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. Hear a blissfully exotic mix of hypnotic organ grooves, psychedelic guitars, mystic strings and haunting percussion.
Magda Ali - "Nafourak Ya Ghazal (A Nubian Love Song)" (part 1) (2:51)
Sayed Salamah - "Zahrat El Hob (Bolero)" (4:08)
Review: It would be fair to say that very few people - in Europe and the U.S at least - know much about the Egyptian music scene of the 1960s. This compilation, then, should be something of an eye-opener to all of those with an interest in musical movements from around the world. What's perhaps most interesting is the surprisingly "global" nature of the influences on show. Check, for example, the jaunty bossanova rhythms underpinning Salim El Baroudi's "Fatouma", the humid Arabic jazz flex of Abd Al Fattah Mensi's "Leyla", the tango style accordions of Al Thourathy Al Mareh's "Asmar Ya Sukkar" and the wonderfully over-the-top easy listening orchestration that leaps out from Magda Ali's "Nafourak Ya Ghazal (A Nubian Love Song Part 1)".