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).