The Idan Raichel Project The Idan Raichel Project

While working as a counsellor to recent immigrants from Israel, Idan Raichel started hanging around a group of young Ethiopian Jews. He also started listing to the mix-tapes they passed around and was fascinated by the blend of folk music, Ethiopian pop and reggae. He started collaborating with friends from Arab, Ethiopian, Yemenite and Caribbean communities to make music and try to bring the diasporic groups together. The result was The Idan Raichel Project, originally released in 2002, but just now making its international debut. Though Idan is mostly responsible for the songwriting and vocals, the variety of soundscapes of the different artists all make themselves heard, particularly a handful of strongly reggae-influenced songs, like "Ayal-Ayale (The Handsome Hero),” which starts with a tinny guitar intro and bantering vocals. On the more Israel pop side, "Hinach Yafah (You Are Beautiful)” is almost heartbreaking in its soulful delivery, even without a clear idea of the meaning of the words. For all of its divergent influences, the album hangs together remarkably well. But as Idan says, "Our ability to live in peace with each other depends first and foremost on our ability to accept all that is different between us.” Embracing those differences has created some remarkable music. (Cumbancha)