Eswed W Abyad launches 'One Way Trip' to a colorful music experience

Eslam Omar , Thursday 3 Oct 2019

Wael El-Sayed and Faisal Fouad speak to Ahram Online about their debut album of their duet project 'Eswed W Abyad'

Eswed W Abyad

Despite naming their project after the two colours of the keyboard instrument, 'Eswed W Abyad' (Black and White), pianist Faisal Fouad and accordionist Wael El-Sayed have successfully drawn a musical sheet that contains many colour tones.

"This project is what I am proud of the most. I've spent a lot of effort on it. We hope the audience likes it too," Faisal Fouad told to Ahram Online following the album launch concert.

"We created this duet mainly because we feel comfortable playing with each other. We almost think like each other in music. We found out that through music we are capable of expressing things we can't express with words," the pianist added.

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With two instruments that are unlikely for a duet, the two best friends, who brought together different but harmonised musical backgrounds, united years ago to share their expressive stories through a unique portrait rarely produced in Egypt.

"It feels like a birth. I am very happy we finally performed our project in front of a live audience. We will develop the project by time and we are planning to be accompanied by more instruments and musicians, and hopefully an orchestra," Wael El-Sayed said, echoing his buddy's excitement and appreciation for their experience together, and pledging more concerts and albums.

Review: 'One Way Trip'

Released in August, 'One Way Trip' is their debut album that blended the conflicted emotions derived from a wide exposure to different music genres and codes.

It is very hard not to appreciate such a different album that has potential to merge with various types of arrangements, from a jazz band to a huge orchestra.

The artists’ performance will leave you with no choice but to enjoy the ride and fly without wings with the flooding chordal progressions and melodies, which touch many genres and styles without really falling into a specific one.

The skeletal composition of the successive chord circles tightly with the flooding melodies, which are sometimes played in unison, making the improvisational solos sound pre-written and the spontaneous bridges and licks feel very intentional.

With bony structures and a fluidity of solos, the duo flirted with some familiar tunes in skilful manoeuvres while avoiding falling into their traps.

It is hard to classify the album, which would be typically labelled “World,” but it is actually a chemical reaction of a mixture of elements from jazz, blues to classical Arabic or Western traditional music.

The makers of the album are two major key players of the music scene in Egypt, playing with some of the first-row mainstream Arab singers and most of the bands in a two-decade alternative current that some like to name “the underground scene.”

From Angham, Asma Lmnawar, Mohamed Abdu to Wust El-Balad, Dina El-Wedidi, Black Theama, and everything in between, Faisal and Wael are connected to the whole Egyptian and Arab music scene, exposed to its various trends and waves internationally as well as through dozens of festivals and events they’ve participated in across the globe.

Eswed W Abyad sees warm reception at first concert

Ahram Online was there during important stops on the 'One Way Trip,' including their first-ever concert held on 6 September at the Arab Music Institute under the Cairo Opera House’s supervision.

Prominent sound engineer Taher Saleh was in charge of the mix and master of the project, and the concert witnessed another dimension with Arsane Ebaid’s visual arts screening that accompanies each track.

While Faisal showed gratitude to all his family and friends who attended the concert, which included many famous and active musicians, Wael was keen to thank many of his colleagues.

"I want to thank all my friends who cared about rehearsals even more than us; first one to record to us was Mahmoud Diaz. Thanks to Fady Badr and thanks to my professor Fathy Salama," the accordionist said.

Salama, the Egyptian Grammy Award winner who inspired a generation of Egyptian musicians with his legacy and educational methods, was keen to attend the debut concert of Eswed W Abyad and to personally congratulate its members.

"I really respect this experiment and its makers," Salama told Ahram Online, adding that "it reminds me of Richard Galliano's works. I wish the duo success."

Among the concert attendees was movie star Hany Adel, the lead vocal and guitarist of the 20-year-old Wust El-Balad, who described the project as "a very unique musical and visual experience."

The duos' best friend Mounir Maher, a music producer and a bass and guitar player for many Egyptian bands, was also among the musicians who attended the event.

"It is a very different album. When I used to witness their rehearsals at Wael's apartment, as we used to live in one building, I thought they were joking in creating a project for piano and accordion, before they amazed me with their gorgeous output," Maher said.

Dozens of famous musicians showed enthusiasm for the launch of 'One Way Trip,' expressing admiration and congratulations to the pair on various social media platforms, including singer and songwriter Dina El-Wedidi, who wrote, "a million congratulations. Beautiful album."

Amid tight schedules for different projects, Faisal and Wael are gearing up for their upcoming concert on Thursday 31 October at Alexandria's Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

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