Innovative composer and musician Sam Shalabi seems to never let the conventional methods of music composition influence his own decisions when it comes to making music. One of his most interesting musical projects Land of Kush is a prime example of how musical conventions can be broken down in order to create something that is interesting, exciting and somehow, listenable. On their third album now, Land of Kush present ‘The Big Mango’, which features much of the same style of music that was first established on the 2009 release ‘Against The Day’. ‘The Big Mango’ features a fantastic ensemble of musicians, ranging from some of Constellation Record’s stand-out members such as Alexandre St-Onge, Rebecca Foon and Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, all of whom present the vision and themes of the album in phenomenal form.
Land of Kush have always seemed to defy classic genre definitions, with their music simply being their own unique style that weaves together composition and improvisation. On ‘The Big Mango’, wonderful and powerful instrumental passages all present the image of the album in fine style, where everything seems to have its own place. It’s a phenomenal album, and one that is a welcome treat as it never seems set in stone whether or not there’ll ever be new Land of Kush material. On ‘The Big Mango’, we once again have a number of instrumental tracks, some of which feel improvised, which break up the album’s main sections featuring vocals. It’s at these moments that the album really comes out in fine style, where everything marries together in perfect style. It seems Shalabi has really pushed forward on ‘The Big Mango’, which features more subverting of genres than what was present on ‘Against The Day’ and ‘Monogamy’. Once again, Shalabi pushes the middle-eastern style on the album, though it seems subverted with elements of ambient and/or rock music, which gives the whole album an incredible energy that is unlike anything else the band has released before.
There’s very little that’s wrong with ‘The Big Mango’, which is simply one of Land of Kush’s most enjoyable records. There’s a tiny disappointing element though when one considers the sheer enjoyable madness that was Land of Kush’s previous works, and the now more accessible ‘The Big Mango’. There seems to have been a little bit of a loss of the unusual and somewhat unique elements that made up these previous records, as everything seems to sound just that little bit more accessible. There’s less confusion on ‘The Big Mango’, which always came across as one of the more bizarrely appealing elements of Land of Kush. Even though ‘The Big Mango’ is more accessible than previous Land of Kush records, it is still a somewhat hard album to enjoy, where only those who enjoy Land of Kush or Shalabi’s music will find enjoyment from.
In any case though, I find it incredibly hard to fault ‘The Big Mango’. It’s hard to compare it with previous Land of Kush albums, as each one seems to stand on it’s own plateau where it simply speaks for itself. It is arguable that it is a step up from ‘Monogamy’, though it is somewhat different as well. Where ‘The Big Mango’ wins points is in how Shalabi has managed to make the bizarre and mad simply sound accessible and enjoyable. Every musician involved in Land of Kush plays a wonderful part in presenting the various tracks in such a phenomenal way, making the whole album sound incredibly strong. There’s little to no weak moments on the album, which easily makes it another crowning achievement from one of the best collectives working today. It is an album that deserves nothing less, as it manages to achieve everything it set out to do.
- ★★★★★ 5/5
- The Pit (Part 1)
- Mobil Nil
- Drift Beguine
- The Big Mango
Land of Kush’s 3rd studio album ‘The Big Mango’ is set for release on 1st October 2013 and can be pre-ordered at: http://cstrecords.com/cst097/