New Jewish Music: From the Sublime…

From neo-klezmer to world music to Israeli hip-hop (not to mention hasidic reggae beat-box) there’s a pretty amazing renaissance going on in the world of post-modern Jewish music. That doesn’t mean, however, that all the music being generated is worthwhile – like all wide-ranging movements, this new scene certainly contains its fair share of musical dross.

Here’s an example: take a look at two different contemporary musical pieces based on Jewish liturgy. Click above for a video of Israeli “hip-hop violinist” Miri Ben-Ari and Israeli rapper Subliminal performing their version of Adon Olam. It’s an incredibly heavy-handed reworking of this Jewish prayer as a Holocaust remembrance – and like too much new Jewish music it’s all pose and very little substance. (Note Miri’s completely inappropriate seductive smirks – and what’s with the goofy interpretive dancers?)

Now compare that to Basya Schechter and her band, Pharoah’s Daughter (below) performing Kah Ribon (a piece from their upcoming album “Haran.”) Pharaoh’s Daughter is one of the truly talented groups producing new Jewish music today, synthesizing a vast array of musical influences (Indian ragas, Arabic folk, hasidic niggunim) to create something both original yet utterly authentic.

Feel free to weigh in with your own picks and pans. (For great discussion of emerging Jewish music and new Jewish cultural trends in general, check out Adam Davis’ blog, Jewish Fringe).

4 thoughts on “New Jewish Music: From the Sublime…

  1. Avraham Yehudah

    Thanks for the links to the music. I wil be using some of this in my Havdallah Ecstatic Dance Mix. I do, however, seem to have a different taste in music than you. When I listened/watched the Miri Ben-Ari and Subliminal cut I got chills up and down my spine… I found it very moving. I felt that it was a very good dance song, and the sound filled with pathos and anger …. and the interpretive dance interesting and make the video a realy good music video.

    Pharoahs Daughter, I understand , is also really good, especially live, however, as a music video, I felt it was just a one camera shot of the band performing.

  2. maya escobar

    Adam Davis is a good friend of mine, I encourage everyone to get to know him, work with him, shmooze with him…

    I think he is really on to something, but needs support from like minded individuals.

  3. B. Goldman

    I totally agree with Brant. I love it when any artist can merge disparate elements into a new, enriched whole. However, when the Jewish aspect is sterile or irrelevant to the work, then it sometimes feels like little more than a gimmick.

    One of the things that I’ve always found most appealling about Basya Schecter’s music–and something you hit straight on–is its deep sincerety.
    By the way, the song featured in the “one camera shot of the band performing” (which, I’m sure, was as it was intended to be!) is included in Pharaoh’s Daughter’s new album “Haran,” which just came out a couple of weeks ago. Besides the incredible musicianship and magnetic groove, the album is truly spiritual.


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