6 - Hadag Nahash

kaboom records

In a recent interview from Jerusalem with Shaanan Streett of the super funky six piece, Hadag Nahash, I asked, “Why do you think as musical idioms gain popularity they lose their message?” His answer was startling in its simplicity as in its insight. “ When music becomes more popular and a money maker, more people get involved with their own ideas. Israel is a small market. You can stay true to yourself here for the rest of your life but you’ll never be rich.” Maybe that’s been the attraction of world music all along. Maybe that’s why the elder statesmen of rock and pop are drawn to it. Global sounds have the ring of truthiness to them to borrow from Stephen Colbert; untarnished by the polish and paint of large market consumerism. That’s not to say Hadag Nahash aren’t a big deal. They’ve won almost every accolade the Israeli music biz has to offer and they’ve toured frequently through the US and Europe. They’re committed social activists who also have a serious sense of the ironic. Their latest and fifth album is called ‘6’. The band name is an anagram of the Hebrew words for ‘new driver’. Those words appear on the back of learner’s cars like the big ‘N’ we get here in Canada. Hadag Nahash literally means ‘snake-fish’. 6 is a case study in how the great funk and disco grooves were made, only with 21st century fidelity. The band in fact maneuvers their funk machine like the expert drivers they are. All the grooves are deep and squeaky tight. In most instances, they rise to the challenge of making the ancient biblical language of Hebrew flow like street speak. And, they are true to themselves in message as well as presentation. Shir Nahama (Consolation) is a brilliant track that marries the western dance floor pulse with Mediterranean heat and textures. It became a smash hit in Israel. Streett tells us, “it’s about the two sides of Israeliness; on the one hand, there’s no doubt that this is a deeply troubled part of the world. We’ve never known true peace. But, on the other hand, we love life and we love to party.”