Shalabi Effect is the most difficult band to characterize in the Montreal’s vibrant music scene. Since their inception in the late 90’s, the band, consisting of Sam Shalabi, Alexandre St. Onge, Anthony Seck and Will Eizlini, has managed to keep their sound fresh and exciting. They rarely play previously released material and they never repeat themselves live, giving each performance an unpredictable edge.
This fourth and latest offering was recorded over three consecutive evenings during the band’s recent residency at the Montreal Arts Interculturels institute in Montreal, Quebec. The band practiced throughout the day and recorded each evening’s performance in front of a live audience. They then harvested a selection of the best material to create an album of unbelievable improv. The result is a record that truly represents the band’s appetite for experimentation and their desire to keep things interesting for their loyal following as well as for themselves.
The record opens with “Out Of The Closet”, an epic and challenging thirteen minute track that combines horror movie sounds, minimal electronics, groaning vocal effects, and drones. The outcome is pleasantly unsettling, conjuring a world somewhere between the Amazon jungle, and Mars as depicted in 50’s B-movies. “Pai Nai” manages to sound like a secret collaboration between Fly Pan Am and Acid Mothers Temple. “Early Reptilian Memories” picks up the mood of the first track, utilizing tribal percussion and prehistoric rumblings. “Monobrow” recalls the energy of Throbbing Gristle via primitive beat patterns and cut up vocal samples. This track also brings to mind Alexandre St. Onge’s recent work with Et Sans. The hushed, serene tones of “Half Life”, resemble the Shalabi Effect sound from their excellent debut album while “Beluga” employs piano, breathy vocals and whistling, suggesting an unusual hybrid of the music of Brian Wilson and Robert Wyatt. “Harpie” sounds like the band in their earlier two-piece incarnation but with a much fuller sound. The influence of Popol Vuh is still very evident. “Vegas Radiation” is comparable to Philip Glass’ work on the Errol Morris film “The Thin Blue Line”. This dark, cinematic mood is carried over to the final track, “Skin Job” but this time they incorporate more of an Dario Argento feel with its creeping sense of unease and tension.
Following last years critically acclaimed and more accessible “Pink Abyss”, some will see “Unfortunately” as a return to Shalabi Effect’s earlier sound and many will be happy to follow them on another journey into paths unknown.