Something of a superstar in Israel, keyboard player, writer and producer Idan Raichel formed his project in 2002. A group with no sole front-person, Within My Walls – their second international release on the Cumbancha label – contains nine different vocalists, all adding their own take on Raichel's essentially folk-influenced music.
But to simply label it that would be to do it great disservice – there are Indian, African, Middle Eastern, funk and hip-hop influences bubbling under throughout.
Within My Walls (Ben Kirot Beyti) was released in Israel in November 2008, and quickly became a huge hit for Raichel and his collaborators, gaining a platinum disc in his home country. And it's with little wonder.
Written and recorded in hotels and dressing rooms around the world, it sounds as if the sights, noises and smells of many cities have been absorbed into the fabric of the recording.
The different voices (and languages) throughout give the work unity, not disparity: the sweet needing of Amir Dadon on She'eriot Shel Ha'Chaim (Scraps Of Life) is one of the album's early highlights. Even better is Mai Nahar (River Waters) sung by Anat Ben Hamo, which recalls Beth Hirsch's plaintive voice on Air's All I Need. There is pathos, too – Min Nhar Li Mshiti (From The Day You Left) showcases Shimon Buskila's heartbreaking vocals.
Within My Walls continues spreading Raichel's message of unity and reconciliation throughout the Middle East. It is always a wonderful thing to encounter another country's superstar cold with little prior knowledge. For those of you who do, this album offers entertaining insight. If you are already on board, you'll know it's another work of the highest standard.