Zar is a ceremony found in various forms across north-east Africa and beyond that involves communicating with and pacifying spirits for mental and physical healing and purification. Naturally, the rituals are accompanied by music.
Mazaher present the music of zar as it exists in Egypt: a female-dominated rite with hypnotic vocals joined by percussion and drums and underpinned by the low-pitched tamboura (lyre), which sounds very reminiscent of the Gnawa gimbri. In fact, there are many similarities between the rituals and music of the zar and Gnawa it can be heard most evidently on the track Amna.
This album aims to capture the feeling of the ceremony as closely as possible, but nothing can truly replicate it without the sights, smells, and 3D loudness, not to mention the changes your body and mind go through across the six or seven hours of the full ritual. Mazaher is an interesting and well-presented introduction to Egyptian zar from some of its few remaining practitioners. It remains several steps too removed from the real thing to convey the impact of the actual ritual, but the music within remains an enjoyable if perhaps not transcendental listening experience.