the Idan Raichal Project

Sensitive monotint w/good Hebrew cover type

The Idan Raichel Project
Helicon, 2002


This is the sort of music that takes my breath away—maybe the way that Ofra Haza burst on the Israeli and world music scenes decades ago. Raichal is an Ethiopian Jew who has grown up in Israel. This CD, a fusion of Israeli pop, hip hop, Hebrew and Ethiopian texts, is stunning in its range and emotional intensity.

Texts range from the traditional: the opening music is from the Rosh Hashana service (and includes a "shekheyanu," which would not usually be thought of as a prominent part of the service, but certainly applies to the first time one hears this CD), Ecclesiastes, Song of Song—fascinating that the Biblical texts consulted are those attributed to Solomon, from who Beta Israel trace their Jewish ancestry. But the words that Raichel, himself, has written are wonderfully direct and open. From "Come":

Come / give me a hand and we will go / don't ask me to where / don't ask me about wealth / maybe this will come / when it comes it will descend upon us like rain

Come / we will embrace and walk / don't ask me when / don't ask me about a house / don't ask of me a time / time does not wait, does not stop, does not remain.

The beats go from hip hop to Israeli to the lovely African "Ayal-Ayale". Just as Haza's music was an explosion of traditional Yemenite fused with world beats, Raichel's gentler, no less intense melodies likewise seem to bring African and Israel and worldbeat together. "M'dabrim b'sheket", sung by Ortal Ofek, or the painfully quiet and honest "Hinekh Yafa" with its percussion and piano and voice—could be any Israeli pop song without studio excess, except that, in the latter case, the words come straight from "Song of Songs" (in Hebrew and in Amharic).

In short, this is the mind-blowing album of the season. If you have any interest in world music, especially world music from Israel, or in hip hop or Israeli pop, or African music, this CD will be a revelation. I am just sorry that it has taken me so long to discover it and to write about it.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4 June 2006.


  1. Brakhot l'shana khadasha—Blessings for the New Year (Idan Raichel) 3:31
  2. Bo'i—Come (full version) (Idan Raichel) 4:26
  3. Im Telekh—If you go (trad.; arr. Idan Raichel) 2:49
  4. Ayal-Ayale (trad.; arr. Idan Raichel) 3:35
  5. Hinekh Yafa—You are beautiful (Idan Raichel, after "Song of Songs") 4:53
  6. Brong Faya (Idan Raichel, Sergio Barhams) 4:06
  7. M'dabrim B'sheket—Speaking together quietly (Idan Raichel) 3:55
  8. Shoshanim Atzuvot—Sad roses (Idan Raichel) 2:35
  9. Tigest (Idan Raichel, Tigest Desta) 4:38
  10. HaShir shel Mimi—Mimi's Song (Idan Raichel) 2:32
  11. Eyt Likhyot, Eyt lamut—A time to live, a time to die (Idan Raichel, after Ecclesiastes) 3:53
  12. Bo'i—Come (radio version) (Idan Raichel) 7:04

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