It’s not so unusual these days for 2 guys with acoustic guitars to play venues around New York City. But it’s pretty rare for those 2 guys to have met during their Israeli army service, and to include traditional Jewish simcha dances on their albums.
Enter Isra-Alien, a duo whose music stubbornly defies categorization. As Isra-Alien, Gilad Ben-Zvi and Oren Neiman play rootsy instrumental music – semi-classical, semi-flamenco, semi-Mediterranean. More Gypsy Kings than Garfunkel, more Haifa than Greenwich Village.
The pair has just released their new CD, Somewhere is Here!. It starts with a catchy rock number with a riff that could have been lifted from Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, then settles into a classical groove. At times, the CD goes dreamy and soft, then spins off into intricate solos and counterpoints. It ends with 3 very different Jewish numbers: a hora, a classic klezmer ditty and a brogez– a wedding dance that revels in the tradition of the difficult mother-in-law.
Oh, and the name, “Isra-Alien?” A play on a common Israeli English mistake.