Dudu Tassa and Jonny Greenwood present a filmed live performance of the track “Ya Mughir al-Ghazala,” featuring guest vocals from Iraqi singer Karrar Alsaadi. The studio recording of the song appears on their recently announced collaborative album Jarak Qaribak (translating from Arabic as “Your Neighbour Is Your Friend”), out June 9 on World Circuit Records. Produced by Tassa & Greenwood and mixed by Nigel Godrich, the album brings together vocalists and musicians from throughout the Middle East.
Watch/share the live performance of “Ya Mughir al-Ghazala” HERE
Of the video Dudu comments, “This song originates from Yemen, my father’s country of origin, and Kiri (Karrar) is from Baghdad, my mother’s hometown. I met Kiri in Vienna and all I could think about was how much beauty, culture and humanity we miss while we are busy stressing differences, borders and limitations. That’s how, together with Jonny, the idea for this whole album started to take shape, through the notion of crossing borders, and looking for connections rather than differences.”
Tassa and Greenwood will also be performing at London’s Pitchfork Festival on November 10.
,” featuring Lebanese vocalist Rashid al-Najjar
, is the first track to be unveiled from the album and can be heard/viewed HERE
“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 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. So “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.
When assembling the tracks on Jarak Qaribak, Jonny 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.
“It’s a letter in a bottle, thrown into the ocean,” decides Dudu. “Who will get it, who will hear it, I don’t know. But someone will love it.”