Shalabi Effect

The Trial of St. Orange

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This sophomore effort by Sam Shalabi's solo project -- with fellow fringe-dwellers Anthony Seck, Alexandre St. Onge, and Will Eizlini (with Bryan Highbloom returning on Tibetan bowl on one track) -- moves to the edges of where the band's self-titled debut left off. Over the course of six tracks that come in at a little under and hour, Shalabi Effect delves deep into the sonic palette for sounds that will fit into textural psychedelic studies. The use of bird songs, running water, and wind has all been done before, but not quite like this. When combined with altered guitar and keyboard elements whose frequencies have been irrevocably changed into both sub- and supra-lingual soundscapes and are woven into a deeply Middle Eastern-influenced tapestry of dimension and texture, the result is a roadmap into the very heart of psychedelia. Unlike the Holy River Family Band, the Shalabi's don't worry as much about staying "musical"; they allow the dictates of the composition to take them where they need to go. Where that is is fascinating -- disturbing at times, mind-expanding in the alteration of time and space, and outrageously innovative. Who would have thought that one could use a heavy metal riff on an oud, shoot it through with electronic game sounds, layer on some deeply organic hand percussion and electronic breakbeats, and have it all running out of the speakers like clear water? While the last record had various tracks to single out over two discs, this one just begins with "Sundog Ash" and extrapolates, breathes, adapts, and mutates over the next five before it closes with a bang more than a whisper. This is truly groundbreaking work; this band shows mores surprise and restraint on this set, and as a result will have listeners finding new things to hear after dozens of listens.

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