A bit aside from the popular stuff of Acid Arab like tracks “Gul l’Abi” and “Stil”, I stumbled upon a mix they did for Ninja Tune where I discovered mahraganat, Egyptian electronic dance music which takes a big part from the folk elements, especially evident in the percussions and synths. Since then I’ve stumbled upon some hardcore mahraganat music that my friends would seriously say it is completely equal to turbo-folk music, not realizing that even in rock music there is good and bad stuff. This is something like that, but nevertheless the whole style of this Egyptian styled music can have many similarities with Slavic folk and highly pitched synths and bad vocals are no help when debating this with friends.
However, if previously I’ve debated pop sub-par mahraganat that I’ve enjoyed just because of my personal likings, now we have a very intriguing release of experimental techno fused with dubstep elements that can be said are the mahraganat/Eastern equivalent of what the label Skull Disco started back in the days. “Three Phase”, the debut by 3Phaz is a very serious techno and experimental electronics album. Of course, it has a bit of Muslimgauze, but its more into the dubstep and psychedelics of Shackleton if you ask me, just fused with hardcore and pure, dark mahraganat elements.
Now, before you continue reading, I must say that personally for me this is hitting all the right spots. But, should a review, and can a review be neutral? And I write this now, like it wasn’t so obvious so far.
“Three Phase” is a very refined musical journey with percussions that scream mahraganat done with big mastery, dark world but grooves being not overthrown for a second. Glitching, twisting and pitching of samples is a thing I’m not going to discuss as in this form its meant to be uniform with the universe the release is trying to represent, and in that it succeeds completely, dominating the message its sending and having the status of a serious dancefloor smasher in right times, for a very deep experience and auditory journey.
When starting with the track “Dawayer” you are introduced to what it seems like around 70 bpm beat followed in between by this beautiful darbuka and then the synths that introduce the electronic side of the auditory picture of the track.
“Siren” on the other hand is an opposite, more treatment is done to the percussions and break itself, having a high note synthesizer to enter and lead the way after bonded with a sub bass equaling a very groovy sub bass rich mahraganat dancefloor jam. No tracks are more or less, they’re all equals, hence is very difficult writing for all.
I’ll note that “Procession” is an ambient dominating piece, resulting the listener to get back to the message of the release as a whole, for me, what makes an album good or bad if you rate it as one.
Continuing with “Phase 5”, it takes us to a serious and a bit disorienting space that fools you for a moment with the hi-hats, only to deliver a very controlled “hysteria” of pure mahraganat sound, what many to find too much on a set, but for those who love these kind of intense moments will be translated into an enormous auditory and danceable experience.
The other tracks following, “Pressure” and “Pivot”, are both groove bombs alongside very precise and controlled sampling of percussions, following specific sound colors from the synth that is apparent throughout the whole release as a whole.
Ending with “Chaos Controlled”, the “hysteria” I mentioned just before into action. Just multiplied by one hundred, hah.
You can buy the album digitally on Bandcamp, linked below, or check for a vinyl here.