Master percussionist Hossam Ramzy, one of the biggest names in contemporary Egyptian music, carefully blends modern and traditional sounds in an intriguing and always surprising manner. Such is the case with this new record made in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and producer Phil Thornton, where old meets new in a seamless manner. For instance, on the two-part title track, they include synthesizers and computer-generated sounds along with tablas, electric guitars and basses and other Middle Eastern instruments. On “Pharaohniest (A Slight Return)” they borrow lightly from Jimi Hendrix to create a tapestry of sounds around a bass-drum backbeat and keyboards.
The duo also flirt with sounds out of the box. “Electribe Blues” shows how two completely different musical genres can come together beautifully. The bass and drums give a quasi-blues backbeat while the other instrumentalists improvise freely around it. “Storm Over Giza” seems to capture recent historical events in Egypt—the tune features distorted guitars that make the sound a bit chaotic. The rain gives the track an eerie backdrop that sounds almost like a cleansing. Though the liner notes don’t talk about it, you feel like there is some kind of connection—even if it was more like a foreshadowing. (Ernest Barteldes)
Hossam Ramzy & Phil Thornton