Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Zohar: World Fusion Beat Scientists

Erran Baron CohenAbout two years ago I stumbled onto one of the bands that, for my ears, would define my musical interests for years to come. That band is the Argentinian-born, Paris based, Gotan Project. (In fact, you can say my current favorite area of music is a triangle defined by Gotan Project, the New York band Firewater, and the SF combo Davka.) Gotan Project isn't a Jewish project, but it's fine music. The combo made the observation that their beloved Argentinian Tango, with it's slow lush romanticism, would blend perfectly with the emerging electronica style called 'downtempo.' And they were powerfully right. The electronica context lets them deconstruct and reassemble Tango, widening it's compositional space while remaining true to it's defining musical motifs and ornamentations.

Ever since I was exposed to the Gotan Project, I've been convinced that someone should take on a similar project with Jewish music. I felt that the minor key edginess of Klezmer could be unwound and played out against a broader background and that the open desert keening of Misrachi (Middle Eastern / "Oriental") could be heightened by placing it into a contemporary context. Now, I'm clearly not the guy to try making the music, but Erran Baron Cohen might is. Cohen, and his combo, draw well-researched and precise influences from a range of Jewish, Arab, and Mediterranean sources. Their two albums, "" and "Do You Have Any Faith?" are pretty amazing explorations and are in currently in pretty heavy rotation. Check them out in this YouTube video posted by "thecrimesyndicate":

Zohar - Live

You can find out more about Zohar at their website, MySpace page, and this Spinner article by Steve Hochman.

Unlike, Gotan Project, which has pretty much defined and mastered a genre, I feel that Zohar has uncovered a rich area of exploration. There's so much more that can be done here.

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