Fun, Edgy Guitar Tunes from Isra-Alien

by delarue

Israeli duo Isra-Alien – Oren Neiman on nylon-string guitar and Gilad Ben Zvi on steel string guitar – have a bristling, impressively eclectic new album coming out titled Somewhere Is Here. It’s just two guitars, no bass or drums, bringing a tight, sometimes flamenco-flavored, sometimes Middle Eastern-tinged bite to a generally upbeat mix of eclectic original songs without words.

The opening track, Schunah (meaning Hood, in the slang sense of the word) kicks off with a syncopated vamp and grows to a comfortably animated flamenco-spiked theme. Reah Tapuah (The Smell of an Apple), meant to evoke 1950s Israel, echoes the Grateful Dead as much as it does levantine folk. Eishes Chayil (Woman of Valor) is a stormy, gypsy-flavored new Neiman arrangement of an old Joseph Rumshinsky Yiddish theatre piece, followed by a mellow, stately, baroque-tinged love ballad by Ben Zvi

Tavas Hazahar (The Golden Peacock), an artsy rock song by Israeli composer Shem-Tov Levi, gets a bouncy, gypsyish arrangement. Neiman’s rather epic, Piazzolla-inspired Pnei Hayam (The Face of the Sea) develops from tersely contemplative, to a jazzy evocation of wave motion, to a series of warmly insistent dance themes. The album winds up on a similar note with a blistering gypsy jazz-infused medley of a hora, a brogez (the mother-in-law dance where both sides are expected to make peace) and a rousing freilach.

Fans of acoustic guitar music as accessible as the Gipsy Kings, as classic as Django Reinhardt and as cutting-edge as Stephane Wrembel will all find juicy nuggets here. Isra-Alien play the cd release show for this one at Drom on Nov 10 at 7 PM. There are plenty of $10 advance tix left.