COULD this be the year we see a real breakout of excellent, psychedelic music from Israel?
The year’s already been graced by Tamar Aphek’s fiery debut album for Kill Rock Stars, All Bets Are Off, in which Tamar and her power trio really kicked out the jams (it may be one of those albums that’s been slept on a little, but trust me, check it out).
Now we get a debut drop of West Coast acid swirl and melody from Cloud of I, the band fronted by Yuli Shafriri.
A musical project dreamt up in a squat in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, Montmartre, that most bohemian of Parisian districts, and brought into being in Tel Aviv, Cloud of I is Yuli Shafriri’s first venture into recording.
Aged 27, she’s well versed in the musics of many traditions; her mother’s family is from the Iraqi-Jewish community of India and her father’s is Latvian and Lithuanian; they came to Israel and founded a feminist agricultural kibbutz called Kineret, on the Sea of Galilee.
She was formerly the singer with the Tel Aviv scene band The White Screen, playing a hybrid of psych-pop and art-rock; for the past two years she was frontwoman with Satellites, whose thang was the Seventies’ Turkish psych sound.
She’ spent the travails of lockdown off-grid in an Israeli village, where she kept on creating and performing under the stars and around bonfires.
“Sail Away” whirls in organ, coolly detached vocal incantation akin to Grace Slick or United States of America‘s Dorothy Moskowitz, maybe a little Khruangbin in there too; compelling, heat-hazed, floating. “I want the listener to enter an ecstatic meditative state,” Yuli says.
It’s a blueprint for the rest of the EP, which is split between English and her mother tongue, Hebrew. It certainly promises a bright and many-coloured musical future.
Cloud of I’s “Sail Away” is out now on all digital streaming platforms; the Gazing EP is set for vinyl release in July.