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Rising at the same time with the new wave of chaabi, keyboard virtuoso Islam Chipsy distinguishes himself through his modernist sensibility from his contemporaries in Egypt. Circumventing pastiche or irony, he destabilizes chaabi tradition by pioneering a new keyboard technique, using palms and fists to slam keys and hit entire tone clusters at once, as well as performing flanked by two drummers. It’s something akin to a controlled explosion: forceful yet precise.

Thanks to the release of a live bootleg entitled Live at the Cairo High Cinema Institute, a live bootleg via Nashazphone/100Copies in 2014, Islam Chipsy & EEK’s emergence on the international music scene was preceded by their reputation as extraordinary performers. Their debut studio album Kahraba in 2015 is marked by frenetic syncopated rhythms and chopped up Egyptian standards. There is more to this than an all-consuming experience.

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