This is the first release by Montréal guitarist Sam Shalabi's main project. And, to set the record straight, Shalabi Effect is the album Alien8 recordings announced in early 1999 as a split CD with Godspeed You Black Emperor! that would have been titled Aural Florida. What was planned to be a 30-minute excursion has grown into a journey of over two hours. Shalabi Effect is Sam Shalabi, Anthony Seck, Will Eizlini, and Alexandre St-Onge (of the Ambiances Magnétiques trio Klaxon Gueule). Violinist Sophie Trudeau of Godspeed You Black Emperor! guests on one track, as do Deirdre Smith (vocals) and Bryan Highbloom (soprano sax and Tibetan bowl). For those aware of Sam Shalabi's various projects (like the hard rocking free improv duo Detention), this two-CD set comes as a surprise. The music is very laid-back and spacy. Although the man is mainly associated with the Anglo-Montréal experimental scene, this album better fits the psychedelic/space rock category than the avant-garde one. Tracks are long, slowly evolving trips with Indian echoes, ethereal soundscapes, and drug-induced atmospheres. There are moments of stronger experimentation with walls of electric guitars and electronics, but these tracks appear transitory and less essential than "Aural Florida," "Mokoondi," or "On the Bowery," all long-winded tunes that could have come out of the Holy River Family Band songbook. The more experimental side of Shalabi Effect is actually reminiscent of '90-era Amon Düül. The sound quality is fantastic: Shalabi decided to use analog recording material in order to retain the organic feel of the music, and it pays. As Shalabi Effect manages to navigate around the many clichés floating in the psychedelic sea, the band teaches a lesson to a few old-timers.
AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2