Still riding the night train to Cairo

Mashina celebrates 25 years of rock ’n’ roll and launches a tour in support of an upcoming new album.

mashina 311 (photo credit: Orit Pnini)
mashina 311
(photo credit: Orit Pnini)
Like every other aspect of Israel’s culture, and like every other country’s rock scene, Israeli rock has seen waves of change wash over the past 25 years.
But Mashina, widely considered one of the foundation stones of contemporary Israeli rock ’n’ roll, is determined to make sure it doesn’t get swept away with the tide.
The five-member, Yuval Banai-fronted outfit celebrated 25 years since the band’s inception with a special concert at the Barby club in Tel Aviv on Wednesday afternoon, featuring the debut of “Bein Hatzlalim,” the first single from the band’s soon-to-be released album.
“To be in a band for 25 years, you need a psychologist,” said Banai after the performance. “Writing songs is never easy, but I think our big secret over the years has been the friendship we’ve shared, and our ability to accept each other and work with each other.”
“Bein Hatzlalim” (Between the Shadows), which hit the airwaves on Wednesday, proves that the band hasn’t lost its touch, but it also proves that Mashina hasn’t done a lot of adapting over 25 years.
Like Banai and guitarist Shlomi Bracha’s countless other singles, “Bein Hatzlalim” features a memorable riff and heartfelt lyrics. It is a good song, but it advances predictably: the chorus, which doesn’t kick in for a few minutes, sounds exactly how one would expect it after hearing the first two verses.
And perhaps it was due to the 12 noon start time, but the song lacked a certain sense of energy.
However, a second selection from the new album, “Haosher Hasamui” (The Hidden Happiness) followed, and brought the energy that was lacking with “Bein Hatzlalim” to the stage.
Louder, faster and much more powerful, “Haosher Hasamui,” especially when juxtaposed with “Bein Hatzlalim,” demonstrates Banai and Bracha’s ability to cater to different tastes, and the band’s collective capacity to see that ability through to fruition.
THE UPCOMING album will be Mashina’s ninth, and the second since the band’s eight-year hiatus between 1995 and 2003. Their 2005 album, Romantica Atidanit (Futuristic Romance), was hardly a commercial success, and the once-lofty status that Mashina held until the mid-1990s is, to a certain extent, a distant memory.
It is as yet unclear whether “Bein Hatzlalim” and the new album will return Mashina to the fore of Israel’s musical consciousness, but Mashina’s 25th year will be one that reveals new sides of the band, and the band hopes it will be one that will go a long way towards reaffirming its standing as an Israeli rock and roll giant.
A documentary on Mashina is set to be released this spring, and is the fruit of a year’s worth of footage from the camera of director Ella Bloch.
“We don’t think anyone has ever been able to see our interactions off the stage,” said Banai. “And after all this time, our fans deserve to see something like this.”
Also in the works for this year is a 25th anniversary summer tour atsome of Israel’s biggest venues, and a greatest hits collection, slatedfor this fall, which will include a DVD and a book featuring exclusivephotographs and stories documenting the band’s journey.
But for now, Mashina will embark on an Israeli five-set electric tour which began Saturday night in Herzliya.
Mashina plays next at Berale in Lehavot Haviva on February 11 and at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center two days later.