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Salamat, led by drummer/percussionist Mahmoud Fadl, might make their focus the music of the once-great kingdom of Nubia, but they can also extend their glance well beyond that, to take in the sounds of Egypt and the Mediterranean, and even a glorious excursion mating North and West Africa on "Lau Elreida," where the guitar (courtesy of producer Hijaz Mustapha) chimes, the sax blows, and even Egyptian violins play the riff with an wild exuberance. It makes for a beautiful ending to a nigh-on perfect album where the emphais is very firmly on the melodies and beats of she regional street-pop known as sha'bi. But it's far from glizty - this is very firmly rooted, whether it's the organ-driven "Samra Oya," featuring veteran vocalist Sayed Khalifa, or "Wainek," with newcomer Salwa on vocals. "O Samba" is a wild marriage of Brazil and Egypt, and even the raw "Errigeme" is a pure joy. The pearls of this wonderful selection are saved for the end, however, with the title cut (better known in a version by Franco-Tunisian diva Amina), then Salwa's haunting "Galbi El Atouf," the scorching "Hagiruni," before the transcontinental journey of "Lau Elreida." The band gnaws at a groove as much as Fela or James Brown, possesses the soul of Booker T. and the Mgs, and there's acres of space in the sound. A glorious experience.

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