Album Review (+ DOWNLOAD): Scrambled Eggs – “Jackpot Blues”

DOWNLOAD: Download “Jackpot Blues” here for free (Scrambled Eggs approved):

Some may be asking themselves: “Jackpot what?”. Allow me to clarify:

 You may or may not know that Incompetents frontman, Serge Yared, DJs at the restaurant and pub, Walimat Wardeh every Saturday. From time to time, he brings in guest DJs, often related to the alternative music scene, to spice things up. On the 17th of October, Charbel Haber and Tony Elieh of Scrambled Eggs were selected to give a DJ set. That morning they, along with Malek Rizkallah, went into Tunefork Studios (the studio established and operated by Fadi Tabbal of The Incompetents). The last thing Serge did before heading off to the venue was announce via Facebook that there would be 21 copies of Scrambled Eggs’ new EP, “Jackpot Blues”, available for purchase. Later that night, after a day’s worth of hard work, there they were, 25 CDs, only 21 available for purchase, the others reserved for friends I guess. I got the 17th, to match my age.

 The significance of this CD is that it’s been a long time since Marc Codsi left, making them a trio, and “Dedicated to Foes Celebrating Friends” was them, still reeling from his departure. Now, this is supposed to be the result of months of deep thought and hard work concerning the development of their “post-Codsi” sound and identity, the ones fans should expect from their future, full-length, albums.

What else could I do? There's no cover!

What else could I do? There's no cover!

 -The Look: This was an unconventional release that did not come in the usual package. The only visual is a sticker on the CD itself. The image is of a guitar pedal I believe, roughly drawn, a bit smudged. It’s simple, but in a raw, DIY kind of way that I personally think fits the sound, but we’ll get to that part later. There is no credit to whoever made it, but I’m taking a wild guess and saying Charbel. The text is handwritten by Charbel, just title and credits: “Music by Scrambled Eggs, Text by Charbel Haber, Recorded and mixed by Fadi Tabbal at Tunefork Studios, Beirut, on October 17, 2009”. “Scrambled Eggs, Jackpot Blues”. There is no tracklist.

 -The Sound: Since I have found that there is not really that drastic variety between each track, I will not go into details on every single track, but instead I will just describe the overall atmosphere and my comments on it, overall.

 This is not an album you play during a party. If I were asked to specify a genre for this, of course I wouldn’t be able to define it with just one word, but the words “experimental” and “improvisational” would come to mind. I feel that what this is is “improvised rock” or “free-rock” (like free-jazz but with rock tendencies). Both elements are there. On one hand, this is the kind of stuff I’d expect to hear at “Irtijal”, and most of the tracks are longer than 10 minutes, a tell-tale sign of free, unscripted, improvisation. On the other hand, there are lyrics (well, spoken words at least, since they aren’t sung in the traditional manner), there are rock sounding drumbeats that are fairly constant which is not common in the improvisational genre, and there is also quite rhythmic and repetitive synthesizer pieces. So it is neither purely improvisational, nor entirely punk rock. It is a very carefully crafted blend of both which avoids clashing the two genres, i.e. you’d be hearing trippy noises in one track then rocking out to the next, no, they make them fit into one another seamlessly.

 These are four tracks of eerie spatial reverberations, abrupt synthesizer interruptions, and drumbeats that at times seem to guide the listener towards a certain tempo and other times add to the capricious nature of this sound, two of these tracks with surreal, abstract, and stream-of-consciousness style poetry read to it. Both the poetry tracks reference the titular phrase, “jackpot blues”. The music in each track is similar to the rest in a way, but not at all repetitive. Each has at least one unique element present that the rest of the tracks lack. At times, reverb is added to the spoken word, creating an ominous effect.

 This “improvised music that isn’t quite improvised music” has gotten me excited about their upcoming collaboration with Mazen Kerbaj, Sharif Sehnaoui, and Raed Yassine (and others), “Scrambled Eggs and Friends”, due for release sometime soon. If one of the objectives of this release is to get fans hyped about “Scrambled Eggs and Friends”, then I must say: Mission Accomplished.

 My own Scrambled Eggs analysis:

 Photos of the session by Tanya Traboulsi:

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