In a world strongly engulfed in the flames of conflicts, tensions, killing and hatred, love is rain that not only provides the respite, but overpowers the fire that results from years of communal and religious tensions. In his flagship album, The Idan Raichel Project, Idan has been able to douse these flames with his sweet, tantalizing, yet deep and intense music that is truly – for the lack of a better word - sensational. It is the best music to have come out from Israel, and has the whole world sit up and take notice of the profundity of Israeli music and the heterogeneity it stems from It impeccably marries Israeli and Ethiopian folk music with the modern beats of Reggae, Electronica and Jazz. It is a beautiful album that is not only the result of an individual’s experimentation with music, but a seamless blending of different individual and cultural elements that collaborate to make just the right melodies.
The album is a culmination of an immaculate blend of a variety of styles, most notably, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and Eastern European (where the singer is from originally). To truly appreciate Idan’s music, you have to first understand his philosophy – “Our ability to live in peace with each other depends first and foremost on our ability to accept all that is different between us. I want to get closer to you, but let me be who I am. I welcome you coming closer to me, while respecting who you are. In our own individual paths we are all looking for the bread, the water, he wind and a dignified life. And yes, we all cling to love” – Truly well said.
My personal favorite song from this album – Bo’ee (Come with me) with an intense Ethiopian character is one of the most musically rich, and lyrically eloquent songs I’ve heard in the recent times. It is a perfect techno-ballad about love and devotion – “Come with me, take my hand…don’t ask me about bliss, maybe it will also come, when it comes, rain will pour down on us”.
Im Techpetzah (If thou wisheth) is another favorite of mine because of its moving vocals (sung by father-son duo of Yihia Tsubara and Shalom Tsuberi) and musical simplicity. The guitar work is simply mindblowing – it really permeates thru you. Mi'Ma'amakim (Out of the depths) is a haunting beauty that calls out to you as if a divine messenger is musically revealing an epiphany to you from up above. The song tells in a didactic, messiah-like tone on how the different communities can retain their uniqueness yet come together to make something exemplary together, much like his message to people ( I assume this song is closest to his heart). Out of the whole lot of songs, it is closest to mainstream music as they get (Some may be reminded of mellower Pink Floyd songs). Beyom Shabbath (On Sabbath) is a perfect blend of some traditional Israeli singing and electronic beats with a touch of Reggae. Ayal-ayale (The handsome hero) has a hint of Spanish/Mexican flirtation with other varieties of music.
Brong Faya (Burn Fire) has a touch of Reggae and the Carribean and manifests Bob Marley’s influence on Idan. Starting with a soulful flute prelude, Azini (Comfort me) hypnotizes the listener with the soothing voice of Mira Anwar Awad (who promises to shake your soul out of slumber) and some ingenious Arabic touch. Siyaishaya Ingoma (Sing out for love) again has a African touch and stands for the uniting spirit of the project that brought hitherto siloed parts of music within Israel together, reinforcing the main driver behind the album – celebrating the melody that comes from the unity of diversity in us.
This album is the epiphany for music-lovers and peace-advocating evangelists – for music lovers as it brings eclectic, yet fitting sounds together to create music that is as groovy as it is haunting, as meaningful as it is playful, as diverse as it is seamless, and as collaborative as it is individual. For those who follow the philosophy of seeing the world as one, albeit in different shades, it is the right channel for sending a message to everyone out there, who may not listen to people, politicians or prophets, but do listen to the pervasive sound of music.
View the official website of Idan Raichel Project