Full Volume, Amharic Soul and a Global Childhood - Three New Israeli Singles You Have to Hear

Roei Freilich has created a loud mishmash of disco and guitars; young singer Aveva’s debut single is groovy; and Joca Perpignan has made an appealing version of ‘My Little Sister.’

Roei Freilich
Michael Topul

Roei Freilich and Hametukim Retzah – “Ten”

The heroine of Roei Freilich’s new song is a woman of “a complicated age” who has trouble making up her mind. “After so long you still can’t say/ is this a business, or is it a battlefield” Freilich sings at the start of the song, “Ten” (Give). Like the woman, the music is also unable or unwilling to take a stand. Right away, there is something confusing about the Eighties-style overload that lands on the listener. It sounds like you’ve walked into a room somewhere, in 1981, where a record player is playing an Earth, Wind & Fire song at full volume while a television on the other side of the room is blasting the opening theme music from an Arabic program about new inventions.

Roei Freilich and Hametukim Retzah – Ten

A mishmash packed with thumping disco, crude guitars, thick layers of keyboards and wailing vocals. If you have a basic affection for Freilich’s voice and style, as I do, you are likely to enjoy his decision to turn all the musical dials up to the maximum, even if the song itself is not one of his finest efforts – although Freilich is one of the best writers in Israeli rock in recent years. If there truly is a certain awakening going on in Israeli rock, as recently noted in this column, then Freilich’s upcoming album has to be a part of it.

Aveva – “Who Am I ”

AvevA - Who Am I (Ashker Abeba)

Young singer Aveva Dese first appeared on the radar at the last Ya’arot Menashe Festival, and now she can be heard on two new songs. She sings on Haim Laroz’s new version of Berry Sakharof’s “Diamond” and she has also released her first single, “Who Am I .” It’s built on a groove that combines electric guitar and the Ethiopian string instrument, the masinko, and blends Afro-American soul with Amharic vocals and beats from the mother continent. The combination of old and new tends toward the trite here and there, but Aveva shows herself to be a very good singer. Yossi Fine’s production surrounds her voice in just the right way, and as a statement of intentions the song succeeds, whetting the listener’s appetite for more songs from Aveva that are even fresher and more original. Aveva released two versions of “Who Am I ”: a short version for radio, and a longer version. But the shorter version doesn’t do the song any favors, making it sound a bit one-dimensional. The longer (though not too long) version, which includes a pre-chorus that’s absent from the radio version, adds another appealing dimension. Here’s hoping that radio programmers will also listen to the longer version and play it instead.

Baby Oriental – “My Little Sister”

Baby Oriental project

Two years ago, the Baby Oriental project, featuring new versions of the best Hebrew children’s songs, was suddenly thrust out of the cultural world and into the crime section when the musician behind the project, Ilan Ben-Ami, murdered his girlfriend, musician and restaurateur Dafna Bar Zion. That happened shortly after the release of the second album in the series, which got lots of radio play (largely thanks to Liora Yitzhak’s gorgeous version of “Pizmon La’Yakinton”).

Given the tragic circumstances, it seemed likely there would be no continuation to the Baby Oriental project. The gap between the innocence of the material and its target audience, and its main creator’s terrible deeds, looked to be unbridgeable. But the Baby Oriental project was not shelved. The third album is due out soon, and includes artists like Yasmin Levy, David Broza, Albert Amar, Liora Yitzhak and Joca Perpignan. Keyboardist and singer Perpignan performs the first single from the album, a Brazilian-style version (with touches of oud thrown in) of Matti Caspi and Ehud Manor’s “My Little Sister” (Ahoti Haktana). Perpignan is a marvelous singer when he sings in Portuguese. In Hebrew, he loses a lot of his vocal groove, so the song (which is sung in both languages) doesn’t go beyond the “nice” level – which, of course, is still way better than most of the children’s songs that turn up on television. It’s good to know that this project is ongoing.