Lady of the Forst | Cat No: RD 4610 | Release Date: 4th October 2010
Lady of the Forst | Cat No: RD 4610 | Release Date: 4th October 2010
Debut album: Lady of the Forest (RD4610)
Released: October 2010
Karen Malka is one of Israel’s leading singer songwriters. Her formal training began at the age of 19 with various teachers, but she acquired most of her knowledge from the numerous musicians she’s co-operated with along the way, honing her skills in various styles including jazz, folk and soul.
In 2000, she joined the world renowned TARARAM as drummer/ singer/ dancer, and toured extensively for three years with the group. In 2003, Karen formed her first band in Israel, The Karen Malka Project.
Over the years, Karen has co-operated with many leading Israeli musicians, including Idan Reichel, Danny Sanderson, Metropolin, Idan K and The Movement, Alon Adiri from the Dub Syndicate, the djembe player Haroona Dembelle and many others.
In February 2008, Karen joined the Avishai Cohen Eastern Unit Project, a partnership she describes as follows; “This was (and still is) the most inspiring and creative time of my life. Working with Avishai gave me the confidence to sing myself”. Karen found herself writing music and lyrics again, and Lady of the Forest – “a surprising side effect of this joint work”, as she calls it, was recorded in between tours.
Karen can be heard on two of Cohen’s recordings, Aurora (EMI Blue Note/France 2009).
Lady of the Forest is Karen’s debut solo album. Some songs were written years before recording, “like seeds waiting underground to sprout”, as she puts it. The instrumental piece, for instance, was written when Karen was 18 and came about during sessions at home, suddenly carrying a whole new meaning. “Come with me”, another track, that came relatively late in the process, is based on a prayer, originally forty pages long, written by Meir Yanay. Karen copied the first few stanzas on a piece of paper and carried it in her purse for years; on the second day of rehearsing for this recording, she found that same piece of paper, which had been lying around the piano for several days, waiting. She wrote music to it that very night.
Avishai Cohen’s “Looking for You” was another track that sneaked into the album somewhat unexpectedly. Cohen originally wrote it for another Israeli singer. Eventually, after hearing Karen sing this piece, he decided she should have it – and so it found its way into her album.
- Lady of the forest / Eshet hayearot
- All and nothing at all / Hakol vehalo klum
- My heart is filled by you / Libi malle
- Come with me / Bo imi
- Rebirth / Hitchadshut
- See-through mirror / Mara’a shkufa
- How good / Kama tov
- Stream / Nachal
- Looking for you / Mehapeset otcha
- Have faith / Ta’amini
Produced by Avishai Cohen
Arrangements: Avishai Cohen and Karen Malka
String Arrangement on “Looking For you” : Avishai Cohen
Music and lyrics written and composed by Karen Malka
“Looking for you” – Written and composed by Avishai Cohen; GaduMusic / BMI
“Come With me: – Composed by Karen Malka; Lyrics extracted from “The Prayer for Pouring Light” (:Tfilat Hamitpalel Leor Yahel:) By Meir Yanay
Karen Malka – Vocals; Piano on “Lady of the Forest” and “Rebirth”; Acoustic Guitar on “Have Faith”
Avishai Cohen – Double Bass, Backing Vocals, Electric Bass, Fender Rhodes
Shai Maestro – Piano
Itamar Doari – Frame Drums, Udu, Cajon, Bells, Shaker and Cymbals
Guy Shoham – Acoustic and Electric Guitar
Michael Avgil – Drums on :”Looking for You”
Shem Tov Levi – Flute on “My Heart is Filled by You”
Galya Chay – Viola and Violins on “Looking for You”
Eyal Heller – Classical Guitar on “Stream”, “How Good” and “Have Faith”
Odelya Oknin – Vocals on “How Good”
Recorded and Mixed at Kicha Studios, Israel – December 2009 – June 2010
Mixing and Recording Engineer : Marko Gurkan
Assistant Recording Engineer: Raz Liran and Asaf Shai
Mastering: Lars Nilsson – Nilento Studio – www.nilento.se
Photographs : ORit Habib, Tal Shahar, Itamar Doari
Graphics and Design: Yagil Weiller
Executive Producer for Razdaz Recordz: Ray Jefford
Razdaz Recordz Project Coordinator: Nicola King
Avishai Cohen appears courtesy of EMI / Blue Note Records
Who Gave You Permission to Make Such a Perfect Album?
posted on The Marker Café 19/10/2010 by Adar Avisar
First of all, I would like to confess: I was never a great fan of Israeli music. My superiors at the various radio stations where I edited and hosted shows always confronted me, demanding that I sprinkle a few Hebrew notes. Now, advanced in years, I even grow frustrated with production ventures that overlook one basic fact – in order to make good music one must first be a good musician, an artist. It’s better to set aside all gimmicks, public relation maneuvers and the “production,” and just make good music.
The forefathers of the 60’s and 70’s; Clapton, Jeff Beck and the like, taught us this. Before they even dreamed of signing a fat contract with a label, they would roam the bars and concert halls, with no PR and no production team, until they felt their material had taken adequate shape.
I must admit that my narcissist, anti-patriotic view shifted drastically when I stumbled across a video of a performance by the accomplished bassist, Avishai Cohen, in the 2009 Leverkusen Jazz Festival. On stage with Avishai, a jazz icon in his own right, stood an amazing singer and artist, Karen Malka. Isolated from the virtuosity of Avishai and his band, this talented musician’s vocal capabilities are stunning. She magically combines the jazzy feel of the grand divas such as Billie Holiday or Nat King Cole, with the ferocious bluesy energies of Janis Joplin.
And she goes about it without any pretence or ostentation. Shear music is what makes Malka a player in the band, masterfully playing her instrument just like all the other members.
I think of Karen Malka as the Robert Plant of Avishai Cohen’s group; she harnesses her special voice and her absolute control over it to pull the entire band up to spheres to which only musicians of the caliber of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, or, in quite a different tone, Hiromi, can aspire.
Malka does not regard herself as a lead vocalist, so to speak. She is a participant in a group effort, which is what makes her so great and unique. She does not take hold of the spotlights despite being the only woman in the band (which generally looks like a bunch of Kibutz boys joining an army entertainment outfit).
My resounding awe upon watching the video prompted me to exchange a few emails with Karen, who mentioned the release of her debut solo album…. Who? What? When? Typically, everything was done quietly and modestly, just like the celestial music she creates.
This is where European-based colleagues and friends of mine started on an album hunt resulting in Malka’s “Lady of the Forest” being safely stored on my hard disk.
I grant you, my entire cynical arsenal did not suffice to prevent the goose bumps, listening to this superb album. The sound, the arrangements, Karen’s sometimes “black” voice, the melodies, all intertwine authentic Israeli characteristics, as one may find in David Zehavi’s or even Sasha Argov’s compositions, fusion and blues, in the spirit of Yellowjackets, and above all, Malka’s unmatched vocal prowess.
Malka is very serious and incredibly creative in this album. The lyrics and the textual complexity are comparable to that of Peter Gabriel, Neal Morse (formerly the leader of Spock’s Beard) or Brian Wilson. Musically, there’s something new, refreshing, enigmatic at times, and marked by relentless perfectionism. Karen was able to instigate, in her own way, a miniature revolution in contemporary music, aside from the huge success she has known with Jazz ensembles touring the U.S. and Europe.
Every track in the album stands for itself, distinct from the rest. “How Good,” for instance, is almost the exact opposite, style-wise, of “Come with Me”. “My Heart is Filled by You”, to me the cream of the crop, is completely different from “Rebirth”. There is, however, a thread that runs through all the tracks, stitching them together into a cohesive musical work. It brings to mind the concept albums of the 70’s, or Chick Corea’s albums with “Return to Forever”, and the days of legendary female vocalists such as Gayle Moran or Flora Purim.
Karen Malka’s “Lady of the Forest” is also an exquisite piece of sound work. I would take this album to Yoav Gera’s audio technicians’ school as a benchmark of digital technology in all its splendor. This is one of the finest albums I have ever listened to. It is on par, in terms of quality and sound separation, with “On an Island,” David Gilmour’s latest.
And yet, Malka is a subtle artist. It is not enough to listen one time around, nor twice or three times. Her lyrics may also baffle those who seek momentary excitements. Malka’s power, it seems, stems from her ability to cast her true self, her personality, directly into the music. It is a world full of contrasts: woman and girl, thought and emotion, hope and disappointment, even longing and despair. You can find anything in there, according to the mood you’re in while listening.
In conclusion, I am left with just one question: Who gave Ms. Malka permission to record such a perfect album? Isn’t it against the law?