Celebrated Israeli singer, musician and producer Dudu Tassa teams up with award-winning composer and guitarist Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead, The Smile) for a new album ‘Jarak Qaribak’, out 9th June. Produced by Tassa & Greenwood and mixed by Nigel Godrich, ‘Jarak Qaribak’ brings together vocalists and musicians from throughout the Middle East for a very special album of cross-border collaborations.
Tassa and Greenwood have known each other a long time and have collaborated before. Asked what he likes about Jonny’s playing, Dudu replies “It’s everything I can’t do, and don’t know how to do.” Jonny, who is married into an Israeli family hailing originally from Iraq and Egypt, remembers hearing Dudu’s music twinkling amid the prevailing gloom of mid-noughties Israeli rock when Radiohead first visited. “What Dudu was doing had its roots in the Middle East,” says Jonny, “and I just found that more interesting. I was hearing that music at home a lot, as well.”
“Jarak Qaribak” translates, more or less, as “Your Neighbour Is Your Friend”. It’s an expansive, inclusive sentiment. The songs on the album, and the singers, are drawn from all over the Middle East – and, in keeping with the theme established by the album’s title, each singer takes a turn at a tune from a country other than their own. Jonny says that his somewhat incongruous benchmark when assembling the tracks on “Jarak Qaribak” was “trying to imagine what Kraftwerk would have done if they’d been in Cairo in the 1970s”.
“Israel,” Dudu notes, “is a small country between all those countries, so we’re very influenced by those cultures and by that music. And a lot of us in Israel – like my family – are descended from people who came here from elsewhere in the Middle East, so everything gets mixed up.” “It’s a letter in a bottle, thrown into the ocean,” he decides. “Who will get it, who will hear it, I don’t know. But someone will love it.”