Skip to content

Celebrated Israeli Singer Dudu Tassa & Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood To release “Jarak Qaribak”

Jonny Greenwood
Tassa & Greenwood
Celebrated Israeli singer, musician and producer Dudu Tassa teams up with award-winning composer and guitarist Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead, The Smile) for the new album Jarak Qaribak, out June 9 on World Circuit Records. 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. The album is available to pre-order/pre-save HERE.
Ashufak Shay,” featuring Lebanese vocalist Rashid al-Najjar, is the first track to be unveiled from the album.
“When people listen to this music,” says Dudu Tassa, “I really love to imagine them thinking…what is this? It sounds 1970s, but there are drum machines, there are guitars but they’re singing in Arabic…what’s going on?”
What’s going on is a remarkable collaboration between two remarkable musicians. Israeli rock star Tassa and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood have known each other a long time. They’ve collaborated before; Jonny played guitar on “Eize Yom” (“What A Day”), a track on Dudu’s 2009 album Basof Mitraglim Le’Hakol (In The End You Get Used To Everything). 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 Neighbor 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. “Djit Nishrab,” a sultry, slow-building lament to love gone wrong by 1940s Algerian singer Ahmed Wahby, is performed by the 2020s Egyptian singer Ahmed Doma. “Taq ou-Dub,” a defiant kiss-off, is performed by the Palestinian singer Nour Freteikh. When Dudu takes a lead vocal himself, it’s on “Lhla Yzid Ikhtar,” borrowed from Morocco. When a Moroccan—in this instance Mohssine Salaheddine—steps up, it’s on the Egyptian track “Leylet Hub.” The Jordanian traditional “Ya ‘Anid Ya Yaba” is sung by a Syrian. And when the song is Israeli—as “Ahibak” is—it’s sung by Safae Essafi from Dubai.
Jarak Qaribak is scarcely the first time that Jonny has stepped beyond the boundaries of guitar rock. He has had a parallel career as a solo artist going back 20 years, to his soundtrack for Bodysong; he has since composed the soundtracks for Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, Inherent Vice, Phantom Thread and The Master, as well as Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog, among others. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
While Dudu grew up with this music, Jonny had to learn it, which meant unlearning a lot about being a rock guitarist; a challenge he’d previously confronted when working with another Israeli musician, Shye Ben Tzur. “Jarak Qaribakpresented a similar set of problems,” says Jonny Greenwood, “in that you have all these scales which don’t conform to western major/minor scales, and have notes which involve quarter-tones, and it’s very hard to impose a chord sequence on these melodies. It usually makes them collapse. It’s like reducing the resolution on a color photo until it’s just squares.”
When assembling the tracks on Jarak Qaribak, Jonny Greenwood reflects he was “trying to imagine what Kraftwerk would have done if they’d been in Cairo in the 1970s,” which is actually a pretty deft characterization of the overall sound of Jarak Qaribak. The singers mostly recorded their contributions wherever they happened to be, which presented some logistical challenges. Dudu recalls that trying to locate a functional studio in Beirut, so that Lebanese singer Rashid al-Najjar could do his vocal for “Ashufak Shay,” was something of a struggle. There were other difficulties peculiar to the region whose music Jarak Qaribak celebrates. Dudu acknowledges that some singers they approached were uneasy about working with an Israeli artist. “And,” he says, “it’s not like all the Arabic countries of the Middle East are friends among themselves.” Getting the Iraqi singer Karrar Alsaedi to Tel Aviv to record the Yemeni song “Ya Mughir al-Ghazala” was a considerable bureaucratic feat. “I think,” says Dudu, “he was the only Iraqi passport holder in the entire country at that moment.”
Though Dudu says that he scrutinized every lyric as carefully as he could for even the vaguest hint of a political subtext, and insists—accurately—that Jarak Qaribak is an album of classic love songs, the romance and heartbreak they chronicle exclusively personal, neither Dudu nor Jonny are naïve enough to believe that nobody will project their own political prejudices onto this project, favorably or otherwise. “We didn’t want,” says Jonny Greenwood, “to make out that we’re making any political point, but I do understand that as soon as you do anything in that part of the world it becomes political, even if it’s just artistic. Actually, possibly especially if it’s artistic.”
Dudu, however, believes that it would have been an act of bad faith to make Jarak Qaribak any other way. “Israel,” he 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.”
That said, neither are keen for the multi-national nature of Jarak Qaribak to be read as some corny, mawkish exercise in attempting to teach the world to sing. Both stress that every decision they made was in the interests of serving an extraordinary songbook (and they have already started swapping ideas for a sequel).
“That was never a conscious ambition,” says Jonny. “It wasn’t the starting point, anyway. It’s maybe a by-product, if you’re lucky. Otherwise it’s just: aren’t these songs great, aren’t these musicians amazing, and what a singer, what a voice. That’s all it’s about, really. But if the songs are from all over the Middle East, why shouldn’t the singers be?”
1. Djit Nishrab (feat. Ahmed Doma)
2. Ashufak Shay (feat. Rashid Al Najjar)
3. Taq ou-Dub (feat. Nour Freteikh)
4. Leylet Hub (feat. Mohssine Salaheddine)
5. Ya Mughir al-Ghazala (feat. Karrar Alsaadi)
6. Ahibak (feat. Safae Essafi)
7. Ya ‘Anid Ya Yaba (feat. Lynn A.)
8. Lhla Yzid Ikthar
Jonny Greenwood

Leave a Comment


Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at

The Daisy Jopling Band To Perform “Who’s Who” At The Transfiguration Church In Tarrytown, NY Sunday May 12th, 2024 7 PM ET

By admin | May 9, 2024 |

The Transfiguration Church in Tarrytown, New York Presents “Who’s Who”, original violin arrangements of iconic songs by The Who performed by the Daisy Jopling Band featuring the Sleepy Hollow High School Chamber Orchestra on Sunday, May 12th, 2024. Location: Transfiguration Church 268 South Broadway Tarrytown, NY 10591 United States Tickets are $25 and can be…

Cyborg Drummer/DJ DRMAGDN Headlining Montauk Music Fest

By admin | April 9, 2024 |

Major Label BMG Records Artist & Producer DRMAGDN Cyborg Drummer / DJ will be making his Montauk Music Fest debut this year in May. DRMAGDN will be the Official Host & MC of The Montauk Music Fest plus play headlining sets on Friday 5/17 and Saturday 5/18 from 10pm-12am at Gurney’s Montauk Resort (290 Old…

RED CARPET EVENT @ Chelsea Table & Stage 4/12/24 Featuring THE AMERICAN RELICS & DRMAGDN

By admin | March 25, 2024 |

On Friday April 12th, 2024 beginning at 6:30 pm ET  there will be a Red Carpet event pre-show sponsored by Tribeca Records at the trendy nightspot Chelsea Table and Stage located in the heart of Chelsea at 152 west 26th street (inside the Hilton Fashion Hotel) in NYC. The Red Carpet will be followed by…

Live Review: Composer Randy Edelman Live at Chelsea T&S “2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” 03/16/24 and Record Release in NYC

By admin | March 17, 2024 |

There was an infinite vitality of velvet green flowing deliciously through the air as Composer Randy Edelman presented his 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre at the trendy new nightspot Chelsea Table & Stage in the heart of NYC on March 16, 2024….. a vivacious close to the spirited Irish Parade. His music is the…

DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer/DJ Debuts @ Chelsea T&S With Retro 80’s Party & Red Carpet Event 4/12/24

By admin | February 29, 2024 |

BMG recording artist, producer and World renowned, Global Touring Electrifying Powerhouse, DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer and DJ will make his debut at the popular, trendy night spot Chelsea Table & Stage (located at 152 west 26th street inside the Hilton Hotel) on  Friday April 12, 2024 @ 9:00PM. DRMAGDN will be celebrating his high energy brand of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)…

Going Steady: New Singles 2-23-24- 2-29-24 Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

dance pop, gooey confection

US Top Ten Albums Tracking 2-16-24 – 2-22-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

75K EAUs is abysmal

Our Friend Tony Orlando’s Farewell Tour

By admin | February 25, 2024 |

“I still hit the ball, I just can’t run the bases!!!”

Sneak Peaks: New Album releases 3-1-24 – 3-7-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

contenders for the best punk rock around

Child Bite, Lamb Of God, Pantera At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, February 22nd, 2024, Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

A three hours of hard rock, metal not metal, swift, loud, egoless pure metal

Scroll To Top