Maurice Louca: Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour) (Northern Spy, 2021)

October 7, 2021 at 7:19 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Maurice Louca: Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour)

Egyptian composer and guitarist Maurice Louca’s latest album incorporates Gamelan percussion, modified instruments, and improvisation from several international musicians and ensembles, presenting a reconfigured musical language that knows no borders. Stunning ten-minute opener “El Fazzah’ah (The Slip and the Slide)” features droning cello, gentle guitar melodies, mesmerizing tuned percussion, and disconcerting sweeps of noisy abrasion, keeping the piece physical as well as graceful. “Bidayat (Holocene)” features rhapsodic violin playing by Ayman Asfour and sounds closer to traditional Arabic music, with comforting tones yet winding, complex rhythms. “Yara’ (Fire Flies)” is a showcase for Anthea Cady’s tense, grinding cello as well as Khaled Yassine’s bell-like percussion, resulting in a hair-raising collision of sounds fit for a horror movie score. “Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour)” is a more tranquil harp-based piece, at least until some of the instruments are more forcefully played and strings are bent, and high-pitched electronic waves start piercing and wailing. “El-Gullashah (Foul Tongue)” has warm, earthy guitar and percussion countered by Devin Brahja’s squonking alto sax and other noises shrieking in the background. “Higamah (Hirudinea)” would be a tranquil comedown if it was just the droning rhythm and acoustic guitar, but lots of strangeness is lurking in the night beyond the controlled camp fire.

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