Nadah El Shazly’s Ahwar

The debut album Ahwar by Nadah El Shazly takes the listener on a journey full of undiscovered soundscapes.


Ahwar by Nadah El Shazly is not an easy listening and it needs all the attention from the audience. It mingles between electronic, jazzy, and experimental music, while keeping its distance from becoming repetitive.  The album was released with Nawa Recordings which was founded by Iraqi artist Khyam Allami back in 2011.

Nadah El Shazly worked on this album for two years. Together with Maurice Louca and Sam Shalabi , El Shazly built a new world of sounds combining minimalistic arrangements with a larger set of sounds, and instruments. The album is throwing its listener straight forward into the world of Nadah El Shazly’s soundscape, who tries to capture her audience by adding new elements to each song. The six songs are different and takes the listener to places where they have never been before. All songs are written by El Shazly, except for Ana ‚Ishiqt (I once loved). This song was originally composed by Sayyid Darwish (1892-1923) and was written by Younes Al Qadi (1888-1969). She arranged her own version of Ana ‚Ishiqt which fits well into the framework of Ahwar.

In an interview with The Wire, she said that the name of the album means that “you can easily get lost and lose your way back.“ The music makes you at first feel that you are lost but after you have listened more than once to it, you find a structure behind her songs, and finally you are finding a way through the maze. She worked on this album over the course of the process with 22 other musicians, and this becomes evident in the end, because every song presents layers above layers, creating with each layer new sounds. This helped Nadah El Shazly to further develop her already self-conscious and confident sound which she created over the years.

She is consistently combining existing traditions with new sounds, not only in her music, but with her language as well. Each song of Ahwar depicts different aspects, feelings and emotions she is conveying musically by using different sounds, and instruments together. Her voice is keeping all those sounds and instruments together and is like a beacon that helps the listener not to get lost. Ahwar needs time to grow, but when it does, you don’t want to come back from the marshlands of Nadah El Shazly’s world.

If you want to know more about Nadah El Shazly, you can check out the links below.



Mada Masr article on her music.

Her next performance in January is confirmed for the CTM Festival in Berlin.




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