Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1              Spring 1420/ 2000

Music Review


In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

Hamza El Din: A Wish


          Instrumentals are an interesting breed amongst CD's.  They often suffer for a variety of reasons.  Most of the time they don't have enough singing on the CD.  When this happens, most people tend to get bored.  Why?  Well, if the musician is not very talented, you wind up listening to the same "progression" being used over and over again on every track.
          Another problem is the fear that the one track you may like ends up being just that- the "one" track that you like.  Trying to hold one to the listeners attention without boring them is difficult to do.  Hamza El Din has manage to pull it of, though.  He has been able to construct a CD that has an interesting balance of just the right amount of umph.
          Imagine if your neighborhood were to be submerged under a flood of water.  It is under this duress from which the album stems.  How to keep such a place alive?  How can one make the village of Toshka alive for the past, present and future people of Nubia?  Celebrate its existence in song.     
          The music itself is hypnotic.  The opening track "Greetings" has the voices of El Din and Shizuru Ohtaka intertwining with the grace of two leaves falling from an autumn tree.  The oud blends evenly with both voices.  In the following track "Sunsets" the oud takes center stage.
          At 10:29, it's the second longest piece on the cd; moreover, it's an instrumental.  The piece weaves in and out of the speakers, mimicking the movement of light as the sun sets for the day.  El Din says, "This music evokes images of rural life as the sun is setting."
          If it's a trance like state your looking for, "Nagrishad" delivers.  Planted in a rhythmic drum and hand clapping beat, this is by far the most solid track that fully enjoys the rich blend of El Din's warm voice and the pulsing tempo of syncopated percussions.   
          The title track "A Wish" begins with a soft fade in that leads to you into the quick paced track.  Of all the pieces, this seems to be the most layered.  It includes a cello and a piano in addition to the oud, tar and vocal.  There's a bright feeling to the song that's highlighted by the lyrics themselves.
          Although the entire album is not sung in English, it nonetheless captures the emotions of longing and hope that all can relate to.
           Hamza El Din was born in southern Egypt, Nubia.  Although he holds a degree in engineering, the oud became an instrument that entranced him.  
          By the mid-60's he  was captivating  audiences by playing with groups from musical genres that range from classical to folk.


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