Various Artists

Egypt: Echoes of the Nile

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One of the nicest things about Multicultural Media's Music of the Earth series is that they attempt to piece together a full sound environment, vaguely in the tradition of Steven Feld (and others). This album of Egyptian music is no exception to this noble goal. Small bits of sound from mere church bells, Coptic wedding ceremonies that the recording engineer happened to pass by, and tiny demonstrations of simple percussion instruments -- all are included, along with more complicated works of folk songs, biblical (both Christian and Muslim) recitations, and popular songs. Quite possibly the most beautiful work on the album is the impassioned call to prayer (though officially not music, according to those making the calls) by a mu'adhdin in Cairo. The simplicity and power inherent in a good azan is hardly to be rivaled by another vocal form on earth (save perhaps Dorzdhagva's Mongolian shilen boor works).

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