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Eftekasat is an Egyptian term that means to make something up. In a positive context, it inspires notions of innovation, but in a negative context it means to do something in a clumsy, ham-fisted way. The dichotomy of the word perfectly exemplifies this band’s disposition.
Eftekasat is a six-member band at the forefront of the thriving local music scene. All accomplished individual musicians, they started playing in local venues under the name Eftekasat in 2002, while the founding members have been bouncing between different bands since the early 90s. Led by Amro Salah, the band plays a blend of oriental jazz melodies infused with progressive rock to pitch-perfect precision.
Their first album, 2006’s Mouled Sidi El-Latini (The Latin Dervish), was a promising debut record that lacked the high energy and improvisation of their live performances. It’s highly unlikely that a mainstream crossover was the outfit’s target with Mouled Sidi El-Latini; Eftekasat are adamantly uncompromising about their music. The album provided a blueprint for their concert performances and a good way through which to introduce the band’s music to new listeners.
On their second album, Dandasha (Great Delight), the band returns to the studio for a more conclusive collection of songs, most of which are instrumental, with the exception of two tracks.
Things kickoff with ‘Om El Donia‘, an upbeat track that will get your head bobbing and show you instead of tell you what the term dandasha means. Then comes 'Greeky' with its funky groove and sweeping strings. The band then flirts with reggae on ’Jah Rasta Fa‘ and follows it with the warm ’Jazzmina‘: here, the kanun takes a lead and give us a track that sounds like it came off of an Omar Khairat compilation.
The title track is as unrelenting in its sound as it is with its oriental feel. ‘Fadadeen‘ and ’Alby Beyhawel Ye'eesh‘ are the only traditional-style songs. The first is sung and preformed in upper Egyptian intonation, while the second features Hany Adel, the lead vocalist from Wust El Balad singing a sappy lullaby that sounds underdeveloped.
Dandasha is a solid record, but it will only give you a taste of what the oriental-jazz band has to offer. Each band member gets his moment to shine, each showcases great talent and technical ability. Still, Eftekasat is the kind of band that belongs on a stage to be truly appreciated. Support the local music scene and these musicians who maintain artistic integrity, and enjoy this album chock-full of enjoyable jazzy tunes.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.
Ever since the 2012 release of their double a-side single, ‘Flying To Berlin/Husbands’, Savages have occupied an interesting space in the musical spectrums. With a mixture of old school post-punk and noise rock, they appear to be the perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans. Their frenetic, dark, and sinisterly beautiful style has been receiving rave reviews the world over from critics and fans alike and their latest EP Adore Life is more of the same.
This is an album about love, but one would hesitate to call any of the tracks traditional love songs. Instead of falling into classic song writing tropes about how amazing love is, Savages instead approach the subject matter from a much darker perspective. This is an album about the true power of love, nd how that isn’t always a good thing.
The opening track, ‘The Answer’, heaves with energy from the get go, telling the story of an almost obsessive infatuation, with frontwoman Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier) repeating the words “If you don't love me/You don't love anybody” throughout the song just to drive home the fact that love can be a dangerous force. The hectic instrumentation provides a binary opposition to Beth’s sweet tones and is the perfect start to the record.
That is not to say that Adore Life is unrelenting in its aggression. This album is a mixture of forceful distortion, British post-punk and torch songs, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the song ‘Adore’. It’s slow, it’s bassy, it’s reverby (is that even a word?) it’s dark, but above all, beautiful. Concluding with a lyrical coda accompanied by a slow crescendo, it sounds like something you would hear in a smoky Paris café at 3AM. Make no mistakes, this is an early contender for one of the best songs of 2016.
Even towards the end of the album, they manage to keep the energy up. The penultimate track, ‘T.I.W.YG’, is almost a sequel to ‘The Answer’ in terms of style and narrative. The instrumentation provides an organised cacophony to truly drive home the fact that, this is what you get when you mess with love.
For what is only a second album, Adore Life shows a surprising maturity from the London-based female foursome. The lyrics are emotive without being contrived, the instrumentation is varied without being schizophrenic and the style is classic without being clichéd. This is more neo-post punk as opposed to post-punk revival and thank god it is, because the last thing we need is another attempt to revive a past genre. Remember the comment about the band being perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans? This album hits the nail on the head, being equal parts a love song to the past and an ode to the fuzzy future.