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More of an infusion than a fusion, Egyptian Project is the result of a long and committed collaboration between the defenders of Egyptian tradition and a young French musician who mix the sounds of the Nile delta and Cairo with the ambiances of trip-hop, electro, hip-hop, and even classical music. “The fluvial meeting of oriental fragrances and minimalist electronic sounds” makes for a journey into unexplored territories.
One can only dream of distant times when musicians, dancers, and all different kinds of artists lingered in the neighborhoods and cafés of Cairo, awaiting nightly propositions to perform at parties, weddings or child births.
Its an electronic-acoustic vibe that reveals and awakens the beauty of the music of the Nile riverbanks and carries listeners to far and distant lands. It's the undertaking of Jérôme Ettinger, a musician without borders and the art director of the project lead by the association Togezer. For over 10 years, he multiplied the number of musical experiments, artists residencies, and meetings in France and in Egypt and organized many educational activities around traditional Egyptian instruments (rababa, percussion, violin, singing and kawala) and computer made music.
Jérôme, while immersing himself in the Egyptian culture, was fostered by Jean Paul Romann (a sound engineer for Tinariwen, Lojo...) during a pre-production and recording session. Rodolphe Gervais (a sound engineer for Ray Charles, Assassin, Idir...) later took up the recording and mixing of the Album at Studio du Faune.
One can only imagine the difficulty: conjoining sequencers with the maqsoum, baladi or ayoub rhythms of the master percussionist Ragab Sadek ; conciliating the incredible outpourings of singer and kawala player Sayed Eman with the contemporary vocal work of Jérôme Ettinger; tuning the notes of the famous rababa player and violinist Salama Metwally with a computer; and associating electronic programming with the subtlety of modal music and its relentless quarter tones.
“Patience is a beautiful thing”, as they say in Egypt. And Jérôme Ettinger took his time. Himself being an argûl player (a rare Egyptian double clarinet), he learned to play with the famous Mostafa Abdel Aziz (Musiciens du Nil, Mozart l’égyptien, Peter Gabriel...). Accompanied from the start by his friend Ihab Radwan, an oud player (who worked with Hugues de Courson on Mozart l'égyptien), Jérôme Ettinger keeps his project alive both on stage and on the album, where we find the participation of the oud player. The project is destined to evolve with a feminine voice from Cairo as well as other musicians met along the way.
“Each one of these musicians has learned to adapt to the music of the others. Its not just copy and paste, its an intensive, collaborative work that's on for the long run. In order to find a solid base, it was necessary to establish a relationship based on trust. And now that the trust is there, we can truly feel the sincerity and pleasure being taken on stage.” J. Ettinger