The Dwarfs of East Agouza - Bes

The Dwarfs of East Agouza - Bes

Verdict: 4.5/5

Nawa Recordings




April 29, 2016

Written By

Victor Stütz


April 26, 2016

Although I think it should be a given, and not a commercial gimmick, being oblivious to a music genre and the freedom of crossing and merging musical borders is a rare bird… pretty much as rare as anywhere else in life.

People tend to get stuck and stick by their favorite team. They use it to fight anything which may appear to be in a different state. Skipping the deep comment (while paying our respects to musical purity) and getting to the subject, The Dwarfs of East Agouza are on the good side (sic) of ignorance.

Imagine a world where everybody is a good neighbor to each other and people get together and make brilliant music. Well, that’s what has happened with the trio comprised of Maurice Louca (Alif, Bikya, Karkhana), Sam Shalabi (Land of Kush, Shalabi Effect) and Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls, The Invisible Hands, Alvarius B.): they all lived in the same apartment building in Cairo’s Agouza district so, in the spirit of good vicinity, they recorded Bes, scheduled to be released three days from now on Nawa Recordings.

Bes has an inner consistency, it sounds complete, it’s all effortless. We know we’re in the presence of greatness when we cannot grasp how something complicated and complex comes natural, it is what it is and should not have been anything else - you can choose to question it but nothing good may come of this, you’ll lose your mind in vain.

You’ll probably lose your mind and your path anyway, driven by the hypnotic trance induced by a sensual embrace between Louca’s north African percussive patterns and oriental dissonance on the keyboard, Shalabi’s free flowing west African guitar and Bishop’s impetuous kraut bass. You’d be a fool not to lose your mind to this most natural sounding celebration from the very beginning (Baka of the Future) - never pass on immediate transcendence and psychedelic bliss! Welcome to the ritual: the end is in the beginning and the beginning is in the end.

The voyage has many stages, which take many forms. They depend on the structures built by the percussion and the bass. They offer a setting for the unraveling of wonderful melodic stories delivered by nostalgic Italian movie synths turned shaabi and the super-flavoured, maddening guitar riffs.

Traditional music has to keep evolving so, whilst sounding like a folktale, the fusion has a very contemporary avant-garde twist, like techno sounding shouts (on Clean Shahin), spicy hammond organ and sick tropical echoes (Hungry Bears Don't Dance), ethio grooves (Resinance) or the sublime blurry - jangly - alternative guitars and keys on Where’s Turbo.

In the end (Museum of Stranglers - a 35 min work which stands on its own) you find your path once more through liberating frenetic dance beats… But only after a final epiphany of free improv sax, haunting theremin-like voices and post-rock noise. They do take you back to the path, only this path is the very beginning. You’re bound to do this all over again. You know the drill: cross those borders again, don’t get stuck!


01. Baka of the Future (09:38)
02. Clean Shahin (06:58)
03. Where’s Turbo? (16:10)
04. Hungry Bears Don’t Dance (04:31)
05. Resinance (03:59)
06. Museum of Stranglers (35:01)