Monogamy’s wild eclecticism may mean that is too varied to reach the heights of true greatness, and in terms of its exploration of its subject matter it comes nowhere near providing any conclusions in terms of tone, or its bafflingly cryptic, often explicit lyrical content. Yet the album never falls short of being, at the very least, sonically fascinating and if nothing else it serves as a reminder of how great it is that Constellation Records exists as an outlet for this kind of out-there, experimental LP.»
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sam shalabi's land of kush project returns: his psych-arabic jazz orchestra has produced a second album of intensely genre-defying, polymorphic, big band madness. where shalabi structured last year's mesmerising against the day album around the thomas pynchon novel of the same name, this time shalabi tackles concepts of shame, sexuality and society in a new multi-movement work entitled monogamy. rounding up many of the same montreal-based improv and experimental players featured on against the day, shalabi deploys a cast of two dozen musicians and sound artists to realise this fantastic new compositional hybrid of middle eastern tropes and western vocabularies of jazz, psychedelia and experimental / free music. for the monogamy album, the group has been given its own sub-moniker as the egyptian light orchestra. the band is a truly hydra-headed beast on this recording; string, brass and woodwinds careen around the drone/backbeat of the major movements, shifting between short melodic punctuations, free excursions, and consolidated unison lines. dissonant piano, synth and electronics bubble below, above and at the outer limits of the mix. several transitions also allow for various players to stretch out in some lovely virtuosic solo passages. shalabi's oud anchors the album's opening and closing pieces, as well as the glorious 'tunnel visions' piece at the album's midpoint. the rhythm section comprising standard trap kits, upright basses and traditional eastern percussion holds down one hypnotic groove after another. on constellation.
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