Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood Teams With Israeli Artist Dudu Tassa for Nigel Godrich-Mixed Album

Radiohead guitarist and Academy Award-nominated composer Jonny Greenwood has long had an affinity for Israel. Radiohead first toured the country in the mid-1990s and Greenwood married Israeli visual artist, Sharona Katan.

Now Greenwood is pairing with acclaimed Israeli singer Dudu Tassa for a collaborative album, “Jarak Qaribak,” which is due out June 9 from World Circuit Records. The album’s debut track, “Ashufak Shay,” which loosely translates to “Your Neighbor in Your Friend” and features Lebanese vocalist Rashid al-Najjar, dropped last week.

Produced by Tassa and Greenwood and mixed by Nigel Godrich, “Jarak Qaribak,” is a celebration of multicultural talent, bringing together singers and musicians from across the Middle East, including Egyptian vocalist Ahmed Doma, Palestinian vocalist Nour Freteikh and Safae Essafi, a singer from Dubai. There are songs on the album from countries such as Algeria, Jordan and Morocco.

It’s not the first time Greenwood and Tassa have teamed up: Greenwood played guitars on “Eize Yom” (“What A Day”), a song on Dudu Tassa’s 2009 album “Basof Mitraglim Le’Hakol” (“In The End You Get Used To Everything”).

“What Dudu was doing had its roots in the Middle East, and I just found that more interesting. I was hearing that music at home a lot, as well,” said Greenwood in an announcement of the project.

Added Tassa: “When people listen to this music, I really love to imagine them thinking… what is this? It sounds 1970s, but there are drum machines, there are guitars but they’re singing in Arabic…what’s going on?”

Curating the eclectic cross-section of songs for “Jarak Qaribak,” Greenwood described, “trying to imagine what Kraftwerk would have done if they’d been in Cairo in the 1970s.” To wit, each singer on the album recorded their vocals in whatever country they happened to be, which presented a few logistical challenges such as finding a functional recording studio in Beirut.

“Jarak Qaribak” is a collection of classic love songs from throughout the Middle East, centered around romance and heartbreak and not necessarily politics. Said Tassa: “We didn’t want to make out that we’re making any political point, but I do understand that as soon as you do anything in that part of the world it becomes political, even if it’s just artistic. … Actually, possibly, especially if it’s artistic.”

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