Natacha Atlas back in the studio with Transglobal Underground for new album

The British Egyptian musician is working with the band on a couple of new songs

British singer Natacha Atlas performs with Transglobal Underground band on the 'world stage' in Hajogyar (Shipyard) Island of Budapest late on August 15, 2008 during the third day of the week-long festival in the Hungarian capital. The 16th Island Festival, one of the biggest cultural events of Europe, takes place on an island in the middle of the Danube river, in the heart of Budapest. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK
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It's been a while since we heard anything from Transglobal Underground, but fans are urged to stay the course, as new music is on the way, according to occasional collaborator Natacha Atlas.

In an exclusive interview with The National at the Oslo World music festival in Norway, the British-Egyptian singer says she has already been in a London studio with group member and producer Tim Whelan, where she recorded elements for two songs set to be released as part of a new album – their first in 12 years.

“I've done a song that features a sitar player and the other song is a bit more bluesy and has a good groove to it,” she says. “I would describe the album as very much Transglobal Underground, but it has been updated for the 21st century.”

The news will come as a relief for fans who have heard  very little about the album's progress since the band announced a modest Kickstarter campaign to fan-fund the project back in March. The band has exceeded its Kickstarter goal of GBP5,000, with over GBP7,600 pledged. According to the site, the album is set to be released in January next year.

As well as working in the studio, Transglobal Underground toured the UK sporadically last year. With their 1993 classic debut album, Dream of 100 Nations, soon approaching its 30th anniversary, Atlas says she is not averse to going on a full tour to celebrate the much-loved work.

“After the success of the UK shows there has definitely been a lot of interest,” she says. “A lot of dates have been proposed and I do hope we can do more.”

Until then, Atlas will be busy touring her own solo album, Strange Days. Released last month, the new song collection has Atlas finally embracing her love of jazz music. But this doesn't come at the expense of her signature Middle East-inspired vocal melodies.

“I have always been skirting around the periphery of jazz music and slowly getting there. A lot of that is down to my band, who are great jazz musicians. The funny thing is I love jazz and they love Arabic music; this is why there has always been a mix of the two,” she says.

“But for this album, I wanted to come closer to my band, so to speak. I wanted the new music to give them space to show what they can really do.”