Dudu Tassa and Jonny Greenwood: Jarak Qaribak – Verve and vision, full of gems

Frenetic percussion and dazzling soundscapes conjure ‘what Kraftwerk would have done if they’d been in Cairo in the 1970s’

Jarak Qaribak
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Artist: Dudu Tassa and Jonny Greenwood
Label: World Circuit

Jarak Qaribak roughly translates as Your Neighbour Is Your Friend, and it is such generosity of spirit that underpins this collaborative record from Dudu Tassa and Jonny Greenwood.

Tassa has said that the Radiohead guitarist’s playing is “everything I can’t do, and don’t know how to do”; for Greenwood, Tassa is a modern interpreter of a kind of Middle Eastern songbook.

Both artists have had form in this kind of reimagining, with Tassa’s group Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis updating Iraqi standards over the past decade, and Greenwood’s previous work with Rajasthan Express folding in drum machines and Sufi vocals to interesting effect.

This particular collaboration works so well because a clear connection radiates through the work, bringing in new arrangements and a different sensibility to (mainly) love songs from places such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan.


The record steadily reveals many gems: Djit Nishrab features Ahmed Doma, whose voice dances atop glitchy strings, and that stuttering beauty opens up a space for more frenetic percussion and dazzling soundscapes that elevate, such as the drum machines on Taq ou-Dub, the funk of Ahibak, or the folk song Ya ’Anid Ya Yaba, with its synth-led vitality amid wistful melody. Greenwood has said that they’re “trying to imagine what Kraftwerk would have done if they’d been in Cairo in the 1970s”.

This album is emblematic of such verve and vision.

Siobhán Kane

Siobhán Kane is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture