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Cover Art

Shalabi Effect ( )

Pink Abyss
Alien8 ( http://www.alien8recordings.com/ )
Last year was a good one for Montreal musician Sam Shalabi, whose solo album Osama was named one of the best rock records of the year by The Wire magazine. Compared to Osama, Shalabi's latest - from his collective project Shalabi Effect - could be (and has been) called a "pop" release. Of course, only the most open-minded pop music fans would ever agree on that classification. Consider the stand-out "Blue Sunshine." Though it is ostensibly a sunny, horn-driven instrumental, a muted Merzbow-esque squiggle of noise runs through the song's fabric. It's the kind of touch that would ruin the song for some, and turn it into genius for others. Elsewhere the album moves freely and effortlessly through experimental improv, modern psyche, Indian music, and more ("Bright Guilty World," with vocals by Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, sounds like an opiated, primordial version of a Shirley Bassey tune - in a good way). What Shalabi and his companions have created is a successful fusion of experimental music and modern rock music; not a sound that panders to one side or the other, but one that highlights the better sides of both. In other words, a sound that could top critics' lists at The Wire again, but stands a chance at impressing the staff at Spin, too.

By James Hayashi-Tennant
Jan 31, 2004

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