Sam Shalabi

Music for Arabs

by David Maine

1 May 2014


Um ... What?

cover art

Sam Shalabi

Music for Arabs

(Majmua Music)
US: 4 Feb 2014
UK: 14 Apr 2014

Music for Arabs has got to be a joke title, right? Egyptian oud player Sam Shalabi has collaborated with numerous musicians from all over the world during his lengthy career, and one can’t help feeling that the in-your-face title of this challenging sonic collage is a bit of refutation to well-meaning titles from the likes of the Rough Guide series (The Rough Guide to Arabic Revolution, … to the Best African Music You’ve Never Heard, etc). In any case, Shalabi’s latest has more in common with Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music than anything else, a lengthy series of sound collages made up of seemingly random noise, spoken-word bits, found sounds apparently recorded on the street, radio fragments, and – oh yes – occasional strands of actual music. The whole things is, I guess, highly experimental, which is a polite way of saying “something that you’ll listen to once and then put away forever”. Much like Metal Machine Music. For fans of genre-pushing “sonic art” only. Shalabi is a fine musician, but there is little evidence of it here; he is busy pursuing another path entirely.

Music for Arabs


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