Isra-Alien is a unique guitar duo originally from Israel. Oren Neiman and Gilad Ben-Zvi met on a remote base during their required military service. The pair struck a chord and got together with other army members to form an indie army band. The music they shared helped them escape from the restlessness of the base. They played gigs until their commander forbade them from pursuing their project. After they served their military service, they both moved to Tel-Aviv to become professional musicians.
“We both were each doing our own thing. I was doing stuff that was more jazz oriented, and the trio I led played all over the place. Gilad was a sideman in all sorts of rock bands, and had his own rock project that was fairly active on the Israeli music scene.” – Oren Neiman
Ben-Zvi made a name for himself in Tel-Aviv and Neiman headed to New York to study with John Abercrombie and other respected jazz players and teachers. Ben-Zvi eventually followed Neiman to New York, but soon found himself isolated. The pair decided it would be a good idea to play together again to expand on their earlier collaboration. Their project, Isra-Alien, recently released their second album, Somewhere Is Here! The distinct guitar styles of Neiman and Ben-Zvi fit well together and their sonic connection will have you believe they have been playing together since they were children. Balkan beats meet mid-century Israeli hits as Russian lyricism finds a home among flamenco flourishes. Neiman plays a nylon-string guitar and Ben-Zvi plays the steel-string, giving their harmonies an undeniable strength and depth.
“Israel is a diaspora country, just like the U.S. Some of the elements in the music are obvious: klezmer and Middle Eastern sounds. But you also have the harmony of Russia, and the playing style of the Mediterranean, and the time signatures of the Balkans. It’s not just about singing in Hebrew.” – Gilad Ben-Zvi
Watch the video for “Tavas Hazahav” and check out Isra-Alien’s youtube channel for more live performances. Look for Somewhere Is Here! at a record store near you and don’t miss their NYC appearance at Drom on November 10th.