Stately piano melodies, gentle twists of guitar, muted percussion and a tasteful global groove are among the ingredients in the pan-ethnic music of Israeli musician and composer Idan Raichel, whose fourth album combines elements from African, Latin American, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern styles.
Raichel is an accordionist-turned-pianist, and you can still hear a little of the gypsy music he played growing up. Most of his tunes are in Hebrew, but he occasionally plays host to some of his musical friends. On this album, the guest list includes Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, Portuguese fado star Ana Moura, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia's Marta Gómez and Vieux Farka Touré, from Mali.
Among the standout tracks are the almost-spicy "Detrás De Mi Alma" (in Spanish, with Gomez) and "In Stiller Nacht," an otherworldly, industrial-tinged lullaby with Scholl's German vocals. "Mon Amour," with Touré singing in French, has a dark, rock-flavored beat, touches of accordion and mandolin. Then there's the beautiful and melancholic "Ba'Layla."
Sometimes, on this record, Raichel's habit of combining different forms of world music - a tendency that has earned him comparisons to Peter Gabriel - tends to make it all sound a little homogenized. But his humanist spirit and the overall pleasant quality of the album make it worth a listen.