This was a great year for music in Egypt, and as it comes to a close, we round up our favourite releases of 2015 from stalwarts to newbies...
"The political lyrics of Ahmed Fouad Negm and Sheikh Imam are still relevant today as they were 30+ years ago. The exposure of such alternate works with a political tone to a completely new set of audience is perhaps a much needed necessity that only Maryam could present, and no better way to make it appealing than with Zeid Hamdan’s Electro-Pop sounds..." Full review here.
"The new PanSTARRS EP Ghaby Ghaby Ghaby takes a slight eerie turn towards dark, measured beats, heavy synth bass lines and, crisp guitar riffs. Youssef Abouzeid’s vivid and somewhat controversial, witty Arabic lyrics give off a sense of bleak ambiance to their sound and perspective, and it feels unconventionally brilliant to be able to decipher every word..." Read full review here.
"It is a deep, bass-laden album, with layered subs and eclectic synths that merge with spacey stardust pads. Defiant piano keys, linking in with sound effects of sublime prowess, leave you in awe. The entire thing is severely drenched in a qualitative uniformity of an alien sound that glides through different scores of inter-galactic preciousness..." Read full review here.
"Likely the key to their success is its accessibility to ears that are tired of negative songs surrounding life in Egypt. Instead Sharmoofers provide a positive alternative to a country is desperate need of musical variation..." Read review here and our feature interview with Sharmoofers here.
"Mohamed Ashraf, AKA Pie Are Squared, goes on a 74-day musical adventure, resulting in some seriously well-produced music, combining synthetic and organic sounds seamlessly for a mood altering album..." Read full review here.
"This is an album made to make you feel guilty... Guilty for not recognising the country's 'other' underground scene, guilty for paying an erche to see unoriginal material, and guilty for not recognising Hussein Sherbini as one of the most important Egyptian artists of the Y-Generation..." Read full review here.
"It gave us a light-up-that-jay-now kind of feeling; the kind of music that’d give you enough creativity to come up with an idea to save the world from Justin Bieber. This is largely due to the enigmatic lyrics which we found out was actually a poem by late Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus..." Read full review here.
"...you get this sense that Ismael has been handed this massive chunk of arbitrary sound, an iceberg of computational dysfunction in one big bulk, which he chips and carves away at - massive, all encompassing sound design that makes you feel a little small in the world..." Read full review here.
"Greater Than The Future is not the kind of EP conducive to its maker's moniker having the suffix, and prefix for that matter of dollar signs, let alone six of them; this is an EP about heart-breaking, not money-making [...] Greater Than The Future reaches back into the past; a five track experimental concept album written in 2012, 'addressing themes of lost love, regret and redemption,' made from muffled kicks, torrential high-hats, Tag's own washed out R&B vocals and a lot of down-tempo, emotional remembrance..." Read full review here.
"Imagine a post-apocalyptic Egypt, left to waste away because of our own man made failures, then picture walking alone through the ruins of City Stars, reminiscing on the shallow promises that capitalism failed to bring. On this imaginary walk through isolation and despair appears a cloud over the roofless ruins providing a refreshing sense of serenity, clarity, and musical beauty. These are the images flooding our brain as we listen to the latest Go! Save The Hostages..." Read full review here.
"It would be unfair to label their music as House or Electronic seeing that the reason behind their success is that they are so much more than that. Each track on Semsesizer is very distinct with sudden bursts of oud, trumpet and flute making the whole album sound familiar, before, without caution, the bass drops: a blend that meshes well and keeps a crowd on their tip toes..." Read review here.
"The EP evokes softer shades of Pearl Jam and other 90s rock titans combined with influences from new millennium mainstays such as Coldplay to bring a more modern brand of accessible rock to Cairo..." Read full review here.
"His latest 11-track offering is jam-packed with hilarious Arabic references delivered in a variety of styles over a bedrock of creative beats. Right from the album opener B7T 3ALEIKO, Abyusif draws the listener in with a simplistic beat driven by a deep, heavy-hitting base that commands respect. Immediately it reminded us of Tyler the Creator, but filled with Arabic one liners that connect with residences of Oum el Donia..." Read full review here and read our feature interview with Abyusif here.
Kato's self titled EP this year gives off shades of 90's grunge Rock and the best part is it's all in Arabic. Each element of the album was recorded and produced by the man himself, introducing Metal in a brilliant way to a mass Egyptian audience for the first time.
Inspired by Radiohead and Pink Floyd, the Alexandrian natives long-awaited debut album Rainbow Escalator is equal parts dramatic and cool. Quirky grooves, and Indie-Rock beats float effortlessly through the album hand in hand with the high-on-a-cloud vocals. An album that can quite easily be put on repeat.