Mahmoud Fadl

The Drummers of the Nile Go South: Nubian Travels

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The pivotal track here is "Satis," an Afriki samba rhythm that, listened to in isolation, could be straight off a house disc. In fact, it's old, but it shows exactly how connections in music are made. Mahmoud Fadl, originally from Nubia in southern Egypt, is no stranger to electronic music -- but he's also no stranger to the traditional songs and rhythms of his homeland. He brings the two together perfectly on "United Nubians -- Saidi Style," which is quite aptly described as tribal-house. However, exploring those connections is really only one minor part of this disc. This is essentially Nubian music, songs and rhythms whose origins are lost in history, and stirring stuff it is. Many of the rhythms are in praise of Nubian kings, rulers, and goddesses, utilizing the bongos, which were invented here. The Suez style is also heavily featured and is equally percussive but more festive; the music is primarily from wedding songs and features spoons and vocals, mostly from Salma, a Cairo wedding singer who's worked with Fadl in the past. A track like "El Semseya" simply opens up, as does "Shacktak Bachtak," which has a modern Aragid rhythm to praise -- not mourn -- the Nubian villages that disappeared into Lake Nasser in 1963 when the new dam was constructed. Wonderfully rootsy and gloriously jubilant, this is a triumph of history, and how it not only celebrates the past, but influences and informs the present and future.

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