Shalabi Effect didn't exactly start out modestly. Instead of slowly weaving their mesmerizing way into the heads of listeners, they dropped their 2-hour psychedelic self-titled debut and slapped you silly with enough exotic instrumentation to make you feel like you've travelled around the world. The Pink Abyss is their newest effort, and it's easily their most varied and unique, as the group not only incorporates vocals for the first time, but mixes a touch of pop sensibility in with their odd musical view.
In addition to the vocals, the group toys even more with electronics and processing, as they did on their previous release The Trial Of St. Orange, and the result is an album that is at times more frustrating, but also contains moments that are vastly more rewarding as well. There are again odd juxtapositions of sound, and while they sometimes work, at other times they simply may leave you scratching your noggin.
A great example of a completely crazy combination is on the track "Blue Sunshine." While gobs of swarming electronics gurgle, a fairly standard instrumental track with triumphant horns plays along. With members of Broken Social Scene and other groups contributing, it definitely sounds like a piece of vibrant Canuck post rock, but the almost insect-like electronics come and go, sometimes almost completely overtaking things. Likewise, the opening track of "Message From The Pink Abyss" cycles cut-up flutes, guitars, and deep gong hits into a fluttering stew that leads into the album nicely.
The rest of the album is just as all-over-the-place. "Bright Guilty World" is sort of a loungey jazz track (filtered through the groups own bizarre tilt), while "Iron And Blood" is a dirge of deconstructed folk and middle-eastern sounds. "I Believe In Love" starts out as one of the most beautiful songs the group has ever done, opening with a filtered electronic melody blended with strings before turning into a haunting ghostly chorus. Likewise, "Imps" is a gloriously upbeat track, but might veer a little too close to Renaissance Festival for some listeners. Just to toss yet another style on the fire, the disc closes with "Kinder Surprise," a lush and warm track that mixes soft organ and guitar melodies with distorted samples of children playing and subtle electronics. If you're a fan of previous work by the group, you might find yourself a little confused by some tracks on the release, but there's still plenty to enjoy.