Sabra Sounds

Two years after wowing fans with his second album, Derech, Mosh Ben Ari is back with his highly-anticipated third offering, Masa U'Matan.

October 22, 2006 11:24
2 minute read.
moshe ben ari disk 88 298

moshe ben ari disk 88 29. (photo credit: )

MOSH BEN ARI Masa U'Matan NMC/Globalev Two years after wowing fans with his second album, Derech, Mosh Ben Ari is back with his highly-anticipated third offering, Masa U'Matan (Go Giving). The album's title track almost immediately claimed a spot on the Top 10 singles chart, though it's by no means the album's best song. If anything, the collection only gets better after "Masa U'Matan," the collection's opening song. Among the album's best songs is the third track, "Mamreeyeem" (Taking Off), an endearing tune featuring Ben Ari's typically articulate lyrics and top-quality use of the wind section. The performer shows off more of his colorful musicianship and lyrics on "Beyn Hatzlilim" (Amidst the Tones) and "Eretz Yisrael" (Land of Israel), integrating unexpected guitar licks into a mix of violin, saxophone, trumpet and percussion work. A world music star with a following that extends beyond Israel, Ben Ari seems to be taking a musical cue from Led Zepplin with the brilliant "Felafel," a piece running more than eight minutes in length. The singer's voice ranges from tranquil and intimate on "Chalom" (Dream) to energetic and dynamic on "Yom Hadash" (New Day). Masa U'Matan comprises 13 tracks - 12 of them Ben Ari originals and the 13th a cover of one of the singer's favorites, Kaveret's "Yeled Mizdaken ("Boy Growing Older"). Ben Ari, who is also a member of the ethnic music group Sheva, worked on the album while traveling through Australia, and the collection is a diverse mix of reggae, pop and Mediterranean and world music. His previous album went gold, selling some 30,000 units, and it shouldn't take long for this new release to follow suit. SHAHAR SWISSA Self-titled NMC/Shabak Music Shahar Swissa is the latest rapper to bless the local music scene with his words of wisdom. Hip-hop fans have responded, making lead single "Mesiba" (Party), a radio mainstay since its release. His new album's other tracks also boast likable melodies, but none of the songs move beyond the hip-hop's well-defined borders. Even "Ahava Rishona" (First Love), a collaboration with Tea Packs, proves formulaic. Mizrahi-inflected rap provided an interesting addition to the world of Hebrew music when it first appeared in the late Nineties, but Israeli hip-hop is now in dire need of something fresh, with each new artist seeming merely to adopt the conventions of his predecessors. Swissa hails from Yavne, also the hometown of the country's first hip-hop group, Shabak Samech. Two former members of that group, Mook-e and Piloni, helped produce Swissa's new collection, a fact that may partially explain the album's familiar sound. In promotional material for the album, Swissa calls himself the "fastest rapper in the Gush Dan region," and his ability to say a lot in a three-minute song - a crucial issue in the rap world - is indeed remarkable. The most heartfelt song on the album is without a doubt "Boreh Olam" (Creator of the Universe), in which Swissa raps about life in Israel and the need for peace. "How we've bitten our lips, how many handshakes there have been, and nothing has changed," he says dejectedly, concluding that "we will never lose hope; love will defeat loathing." The rest of his songs are less ambitious, with lyrics about romance and break-ups ("Talkman"), unrequited love ("Halaylot Hakarim") and, naturally enough, himself ("Swissy Swissy"). His style may be unoriginal, but Swissa nevertheless proves himself a skillful purveyor of Mizrahi hip-hop.

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