7 Oct 2022


Recordings of live rituals and studio sessions. This album presents all three varieties of zār practised in Egypt today.

'With an album cover designed by Hekla Studio, Zar: Songs For The Spirits was created to bridge the gap between musicians from marginalized communities and niche demographics globally. The result is an interesting design through color, texture, and movement through photography and magnetic filters superimposed.'

''Zār is a possession cult practised on the outskirts of the rapidly modernising societies of North Africa and the Middle East. It’s a phenomenon that crosses not only geographical boundaries but also those determined by the rational mind. The boundaries here are not clearly defined; multiple worlds intertwine. Zar cant be enclosed in a single frame or functional model. If needed it could be perceived as a healing practice. However, the first stage of dealing with illness is always diagnosis, which in zar is made using music. Songs and rhythms form a bridge between the two worlds. Every zār spirit has its own song. Consecutive rhythms are used to establish which spirit is being dealt with, and the initiate responds with rhythmic body movements called tafqir. The hypnotic rhythm increases until, usually about 30 minutes in, the dance turns into a trance in which the dancer’s personality merges completely with that of the spirit.

JuJu Sounds travelled to Egypt to experience, record and share with you this well hidden culture. This album presents all three varieties of zār still practised today. Hypnotic rhythms and mesmerising melodies were recorded not only in studio but also live during hadra – weekly zār ceremonies. Sound recordings and in depth liner notes offer absolutely unique insight into zār micro-communities in the Nile Delta and Cairo. Each of them is slightly different, but they all function as self-sufficient systems, remaining practically invisible in mainstream culture.

Zar: Songs for the spirits is the second production of independent micro-label JuJu Sounds. The project focuses on building bridges between musicians from marginalised communities and niche audiences from around the world. The mission of JuJu Sounds is to revive valuable musical ecosystems, not just to sell exotic products.'' -JuJu Sounds

Various – Zār: Songs For The Spirits

Label: JuJu Sounds – JJ-03
Format: Digital, CD, Compilation, Limited Edition, Stereo
Country: UK
Released: Oct 4, 2021
Style: Field Recordings, Possession Cult, Ritual, Sacred, Traditional

1. Madiha Abu Laila - Mamma Sultan 7:38
2. Hassan Bergamon - Rakousha 5:25
3. Hanan - Gado 1:44
4. Abdalla Mansur - Abdalla Zar 2:27
5. Madiha Abu Laila - Yawra Bey 4:45
6. Hassan Bergamon - Gamal Banat 6:37
7. Hassan Rango Rhythm - Yawra Bey 1:33
8. Hassan Bergamon - Harbeya 5:10
9. Madiha Abu Laila - Betel il Habash 4:47
10. Abdalla Mansur - Gado 1:45
11. El Hadra Abul Gheit - Gheitaniya Zar Rec 1 9:51
12. El Hadra Abul Gheit - Gheitaniya Zar Rec 2 7:12
13. El Hadra Abul Gheit - Gheitaniya Zar Rec 3 4:05
14. El Hadra Abul Gheit - Gheitaniya Zar Rec 4 19:45

Choir – Samah Hessein
Graphic Design, Layout – Hekla Studio
Mastered By – Rashad Becker
Mixed By – Michał Kupicz
Other [Doff], Choir – Araby Mohamed, Atef Hussein, Emam Khalil, Sayed Arby
Other [Doff], Other [Nogara], Choir – Reda Farouk
Other [Kawala] – Abdalla Mansur, Hessien Abel Latef
Other [Sagat], Choir – Eabduli Jawad, Goda Adel, Ismaeil Ahmed
Other [Sagat], Other [Doff], Tabla, Choir – Alaa Sayed
Recorded By – JuJu Sounds
Tabla – Waled Abo Zaid
Tabla, Choir – Mohamed Abu Zid
Tambora, Other [Rango], Vocals – Hassan Bergamon
Text By – JuJu Sounds
Vocals – Ahmed Farouk, Madiha Abu Laila

Recordings of life rituals and studio sessions.
Recorded in Egypt, 2017-2019