From Port Said, by the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal, come a collective of musicians and fishermen who deserve to become one of the most successful bands in Egypt. Driven on by a battery of hand drums, El Tanbura mix chanting vocals with the desert flute, the nay, and the ancient lyre, the simsimiyya, that looks like something you'd find on a painting in a Pharoah's tomb.
This nine-piece band is best experienced live, when they can gradually build up their lengthy, trance-like songs to a furious dance finale. Their songs are far shorter, but still with intense bursts of chanting and insistent percussion matched against slower, devotional pieces featuring harps and lyre. There's impressive variety here, and some intriguing lyrics. Zayy El Nharday (The Canal Song) is a rousing celebration written to mark the 50th anniversary of the Suez crisis and Nasser's nationalisation of the canal.
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