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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Eden Mi Qedem

By Bruce Miller
Published September 28, 2007

Eden Mi Qedem
Self-Released

Eden Mi Qedem is a Jerusalem-based ensemble spearheaded by vocalist Samuel Nelson. The group incorporate Arab and Jewish overtones—windswept melodies, hand percussion, majestic oud and tanbur—and lace it all with electronic loops and a heavy bottom that sounds like the desert itself. The blatant dance elements are reminiscent of Banco De Gaia or perhaps Talvin Singh, but the bulk of this is too organic to be either of those. “Sof Davar” fi nds Nelson soaring over desert-funk, relaying a medley of bible verses, while “Ze Narrom,” with its message of simple celebration, stays closer to tradition. This disc works best when Nelson and company mix Western rhythms underneath their minor-key, Middle Eastern roots on tracks like “Mazmuru Namdin” or “Yedhidh Nefesh.” There’s something natural about this blend of East and West, of Arab and Jew, that, in these conflict-riddled days, can’t help but make a statement both musical and political.