New World M. Phil Thornton & Hossam Ramzy : Enchanted Egypt (UK/EG,2004)***
After two other cooperative projects, from which the last, “Immortal Egypt” (1998) was the most successful, there was an opportunity to work on a third project. Hossam now has his own recording studio in Cairo, so it has become much easier to work on the development of recordings through improvisations, developments, rearrangements and so on, instead of having to finish the studio work in another country as Phil Thornton used to do. Hossam invited a lot of other Nile musicians to work with them. New instruments used are were quanun and magrouna (see links downwards). Phil Thornton played e-bow, electric guitars, vocoder, keyboards, saz, oud, and did midi programming ; Hossam Ramzy played Egyptian and World percussion & midi programming. Other musicians played quanun, kawala, nay, violin, Egyptian accordion, oud, magourna, mizmar, rebab, fretless bass and vocals.
The music is Egyptian, and still compromises a bit with Phil Thornton's approach to rhythms, with some reverb, or typical Western approaches. “Zaïellas” also has a nice Arab strings section. The arrangements and rearrangements were developped this way so that the complete session with tracks fitted better together. In this way the arrangements are quite filled up. The track “From Memphis to Helipolis” with the mizmar flute sounds best like a heated up belly dance. Enjoyable.
Used instruments :
Qanun : instrument used often in the Middle East. It’s a plucked box zither or psaltery, invented by Al Farabay (950 AD). It has Egyptian roots (where it was called Sabkh), Assyrian roots (where it was called Nozha). The Greek called it the Monochord. Info : http://www.hichamchami.com/qanun_a.htm
Mizmar : double reed woodwind instrument with ancient origin, part of clarinet family. Known as Zurna in Persia, Turkey, amongst the Kurds. Used often at weddings & for belly dances.
Nay is an Arabic reed flute with breathy sound. Popular in Turkey.
Egyptian accordion : modified German / Italian accordion to quartertone scales of Egyptian music.