If you have a pulse, an internet connection and an interest in contemporary electronic music, you’ve probably seen terms like Global Bass, Trap, or Baile Funk thrown around so much that you can’t even see the words any more when you scan your favorite blogs. They’re like wallpaper at this point- so ubiquitous that they’re almost beyond appreciation. We won’t even try to delve into the linguistic and semantic minefield that is “Zouk Bass,” lest it incite our readers into an apoplectic comment war that overloads our servers and crashes the site.
We kid, we kid. But seriously, genres like these often become contentious terms largely due to the fact that their notoriety has all too often been driven by name and internet heavy buzz. Genres appear, divide, and fragment, often seeming little more than excuses for journalists to slice, dice, categorize and pigeonhole the various subsets of dance-centric music cropping up all over the world. That’s why, while you may read about these terms a lot right now, you probably won’t be able to by next year.
But you WILL be reading and hearing about electro chaabi, because it’s easily one of the most vital and exciting musical movements happening today. Born out of the social liberalization that occurred in the wake of Egypt’s Arab Spring (complex and limited to be sure, but definitely present), electro chaabi is a modernized take on Egyptian wedding music created by the youth, blared out of blown-out speakers, and disseminated almost entirely through social media. It’s politics. It’s dance. It’s crazy. And it’s fantastic.
Musically, Electro Chaabi is an incredibly exciting sound. It’s full of fast-paced beats that mix live percussion and drum machines, traditional melodies played on overdriven keyboards, young MC’s spitting fire, and best of all? A strong sense of audio surrealism that takes an almost vicious pleasure in an embrace of the new digital underground. This love for the strange is apparent on the cover of Cairo Liberation Front’s new mixtape, “Electro Chaabi for Avant Garde Lovers,” which features a bride and groom in full wedding regalia walking in front of a tank down a dirt road. We can think of little else that could embody the spirit of the Electro Chaabi sound better than that picture.
Aside from the actual mix itself that is. It’s creates a powerfully hallucinatory vibe, shifting from one track to another like the progression of a dream. The sound pulls from sources Middle Eastern, European, American- you name it basically. But the ultimate identity is 100% Egyptian. This is a sound that grew out the traditions and frustrations of the nation’s long-stymied youth culture. That intensity gives it legs, and is the reason that we are sure that it’s far more than a fad or a hot name tossed around by a few DJs spread across the globe.
Big ups to The Quietus for turning us on to the mix!