Between the desert and the sea

by El Tanbura

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Includes 2 X bonus mp4 promo videos for "Sar a Lay" ( as featured in the motion picture Cairo Time) plus "Shoft Toshy" along with trilingual PDF Booklet with biographies + song descriptions in English, French & German.

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

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    Includes unlimited streaming of Between the desert and the sea via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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Originally released in 2006, "Between the desert and the sea" is an enchanting acoustic mix of Egyptian folk melodies, Sufi verses and sea shanties from antiquity, led by the captivating sound of the Simsimiyya and underpinned by Arabian grooves.

Named by Songlines magazine as one of the "All-Time Top 50" world music albums.

Press Quotes:

“El Tanbura mix chanting vocals with the desert flute, the nay, and the ancient lyre, the Simsimiyya, that looks like something you'd find on a painting in a Pharaoh’s tomb” ****The Guardian

“Sounds that have evolved through male camaraderie and the sheer physical joy of collective music-making over many centuries”
****The Telegraph

“El Tanbura have been playing the music of their native Port Said since the late 80s and, with the release of Between the Desert and the Sea, it seems that their time has finally come”
****Songlines Top of the World album

“Their mix of enchanting folk melodies and spiritual Sufi verse is mesmerizing” ****The Times

“The group's music is the spirit of celebration, of magic, of dance, and reverie... utterly entrancing” The Independent

“Beautiful love songs, Sufi-inspired religious songs and ebullient folk songs” **** London Evening Standard

“They croon the region’s old songs of love, pain, exile and resistance..."Between the desert and the sea” is a good calling card to the world” fRoots

“The band’s charm and appeal lies in a mixture of the sacred and the profane. They are streetwise characters, yet consummate musicians. They bewitch the audience with devotional chanting and then break the spell with some exuberant, laddish dancing”
Financial Times


released November 23, 2012

Produced by Michael Whitewood for 30IPS
Recorded and mixed by Major Mark Tucker



all rights reserved


El Tanbura بور فؤاد, Egypt

El Tanbura is a collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians, singers, fishermen and philosophers. For nearly twenty- five years they’ve been custodians to some of Egypt’s oldest folk melodies at their home in Port Said, the Mediterranean gateway to the Suez Canal. Their music is driven by the seductive call of the Simsimiyya - an ancient lyre dating back to the times of the Pharaohs. ... more

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Track Name: Waziery
Those where the days of the master
Listen to the sweet tunes of Waziery’s strings
Those were the days
Those were the days
Those were the days of the master
Track Name: Sar a lay
The night is passing
The night is passing, my mother
I am a stranger in the night, Ya Youmma*
The night is passing
The night is passing, oh what a loss

*Ya Youmma: Bedouin world evoking nostalgia and the call of the past
Track Name: Zayy el Nhardah (The canal song)
It happened 50 years ago
We nationalised our Canal, and it is the greatest Canal
Gamal Nasser said this in El Manshia square:
“This water is Egyptian”
And he said to all the people around the world
“Get up and take your freedom”
And said to all the people around the world
“Get up and take your freedom”
Track Name: One day we blamed each other
One day we blamed each other
We sat and drank the finest drink
Under the bough of the Beech tree
Track Name: Shoft Toshy
Did you see this before?
Never, never
Did you know this before?
Never, never
It's love, love, love … I swear by God!
Track Name: Gamel Weno
Where is my sweetheart?
Where is she?
To her house take me
Please, take me