Shalabi Effect refer their latest effort, Pink Abyss as their “pop record”— an apt description in comparison to their two previous releases. While Pink Abyss retains elements of those efforts, there is decidedly more emphasis placed on melody on this release, with more use of vocals and more prominence given to the guitar. Without a doubt, it is Shalabi Effect’s most rocking effort thus far, featuring impeccable musicianship and a brilliant and powerful recording quality that will blow away the band’s loyal following. Pink Abyss continues to solidify Alien8 Recordings’ growing interest in the psychedelic milieu and fits rather well alongside label mates Acid Mothers Temple, Set Fire to Flames, Soft Canyon and Tanakh.
Since the band’s inception back in 1996, Shalabi Effect have become one of the pillars of Montreal’s free improv community and established a solid reputation in both the much-ballyhooed post rock and more recently-flourishing psychedelic scenes. The band has toured Europe twice and played select festivals and Canadian concerts.
Over the last seven years Sam Shalabi has established himself as one Canada’s most important music artists, known for his talents on guitar, oud and various electronics. Alien8 Recordings has proudly documented his work both as a solo artist on 2001’s On Hashish and this year’s Osama recordings and in a trio setting with electronic musician David Kristian and band mate Alexandre St-Onge on their eponymous recording from 2001. Shalabi was also a member of folk noir ensemble Molasses, with whom we have released three albums in conjunction with Fancy Records, and he has participated in many free jazz ensembles and made countless guest appearances. Alexandre St-Onge is also a highly regarded Montreal talent. With three solo recordings under his belt (one on Alien8 Recordings) and a fourth on the way, he is also a member of both the improv ensemble Klaxon Gueule and a project with Roger Tellier-Craig (Fly Pan Am, gy!be) called Et Sans. Anthony Seck is Shalabi Effect’s guitar player and much of the band’s more psychedelic side can be attributed to his often reverb-soaked guitar stylings. He is set to throw down with his first solo release early in 2004 on Toronto’s Arts and Crafts label. Will Eizlini plays tabla and various percussion for Shalabi Effect, and he is also a member of Land of Cush, a project that plays Eastern ensemble compositions by Sam Shalabi.
Some highlights on Pink Abyss include Bright Guilty World (track 2), which features beautifully seductive vocal work of Elizabeth Anka Vajagic who will be releasing a long-awaited solo record on Constellation early next year. This piece moves along gently at a slow patter, with an unusual combination of cracked electronics, guitar and jazz-styled percussion giving it a very cinematic feel. The somber chanting on I Believe in Love (track 5) lends an deep eeriness to the piece, also bearing a certain resemblance to the outsider folk that is booming in the United States of late. Another absolute gem is the über-poppy Blue Sunshine (track 4), featuring a beautiful guest appearance from Charles Spearin of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think on trumpet. This track recalls the over-the-top sensibility that seems to have informed many seventies TV show theme songs or the hits of Burt Bacharach. The closing piece, The Kinder Surprise, has a very gentle, ambient feel and could blend in on a release from the Boards of Canada or Mogwai. Other guests on Pink Abyss include Sophie Trudeau (gy!be, set fire to flames, a silver mt. Zion), Genvieve Hiestek (Hanged Up, set fire to flames) and Gabriel Levine (Sackville).
We have handsomely packaged this releases in our beautiful cardstock jacket equipped with photographs taken by various members of the group.