NORTHERN SPY/SUB ROSA. CD/DL/LP
Egyptian experimentalist ushers Middle Eastern jazz into fresh territories. MAURICE LOUCA has come a long way since 2011’s bruising, intense debut Garraya fused jazz, chaabi and traditional Arabic music with western loops and samples. Now influential enough to corral a dozen seasoned musicians into his grand vision, he walks them over blazing coals here, lulling floating voters with The Leper’s repetitive acoustic figure before it builds into a colossal slab of hypnotic cosmic jazz. Its brassy off-kilter climax meets its match in Laika’s ever evolving modal explosion, One More For The Gutter’s controlled cacophony or Al Khawaga’s mammoth jerky ensemble riff. Elsewhere, flickers of old Egypt lurk in the oud and violin-driven The Palm Of A Ghost, sensuously voiced by Nadah El Shazly, and the title track’s deeppile atmospherics. Big but clever with it, Elephantine is a dazzling, trance-like triumph.