Ofra Haza (ALBUM)
:: OFRA HAZA
:: introduction : publication : tracklisting : production : notes : reviews

:: INTRODUCTION

Once again representing a different style for Peterson, this cross-over between Middle-Eastern themes, rhythms and voices with modern-dance results in one of his best albums ever. The album kicks off with three brilliant and powerful tracks, and ends with three equally-marvellous ambient and layered tracks. Ofra's velvety, expressive voice fits comfortably with all the various synthesiser themes. Each song has such variety in sounds, instrumentation and voices that they keep you interested throughout. The album ranges from uptempo tracks like Amore and Ahava to ballad-like tracks/romantic songs of Sixth Sense and No Time To Hate to dark, ambient tracks like You (with it's abrupt cello plucking sound) and the beautiful track Give Me A Sign which may very probably be the best track on the album as it mixes quasi-operatic cadences (by Ofra) with hip-hop beats, whispered French phrases and a memorable chorus. If you enjoyed the Sarah Brightman album Dive you will love this song and in fact this entire album! Sadly, only one single was released off the album: Show Me. It features two remixes, the oddly titled Kaleidoscope Perversion Mix (remixed by The Trouser Enthusiasts) and the X-citement Remix.

:: PUBLICATION DETAILS

Release Date 17 November 1997
Label BMG Ariola München GmbH
Catalogue # 74321 44096 2 / LC0116
Purchase Buy
Lyrics Available

:: TRACKLISTING
 
1. Show Me SINGLE
4:12
 
  Music & Lyrics: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson
2. Amore
4:31
 
  Music & Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
3. Im Nin Alu — 2000
3:38
 
  Music: Traditional / Arranged by: Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Shabazi / English Lyrics: Bezalel Aloni
4. Sixth Sense
4:12
 
  Music: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
5. My Ethiopian Boy
4:37
 
  Music & Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
6. Ahava
6:56
 
  Music: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
7. No Time To Hate
4:24
 
  Music: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
8. You've Got A Friend
5:16
 
  Music & Lyrics: Carole King
9. You
5:06
 
  Music: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
10. Give Me A Sign
4:20
 
  Music: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni
11. One Day
4:17
 
  Music: Ofra Haza, Bezalel Aloni and Frank Peterson / Lyrics: Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni

:: PRODUCTION DETAILS

Produced & Arranged by: Frank Peterson
Orchestral Arrangement by: Paul Bateman

Keyboards & Programming
: Frank Peterson, Matthias Meissner and Thomas Schwarz
Bass: Pino Palladino
Guitars: Peter Weihe
Orchestra: London Session Orchestra
Orchestra Conducted by: Paul Bateman
Track 11 Narration by: Tony Harrison

Recorded at: Nemo Studios (Hamburg) and Abbey Road Studios (London)
Recorded & Mixed by: Frank Peterson
Assistant Engineers: Alex Marcou, Michael Soltau, Thomas Schwarz, Matthias Meissner, Martin Himmelsbach

Design by: Ariola (Christina Krutz and Harald Braun)
Art Direction: Thomas Sassenbach
Photgraphy: Gaby Gerster

Management: Bezalel Aloni and Nir Aloni

:: NOTES

recorded between January 1997 and August 1997

:: TRACK BY TRACK ANALYSIS & REVIEW

Show Me (Music & Lyrics: Peterson, Haza, Aloni)
The album immediately kicks off with this memorable and epic song. Powerful traditional drumming starts before the song kicks into a standard rhythm supporting an Israeli-style string ensemble. Ofra sings her first verse before going into the catchy chorus (soon you will be singing along to it!) The music alternates between the theme and her voice, and the song provides a good indication of the style and quality that you will find on this album. Towards the end, Ofra chants-sings rhythmically along with the string theme which is a welcome addition for those of us hoping for Frank to include more chants in his music (like he did with the first Enigma album and some tracks on Fly). My only question about the song is exactly what the lyrics are about, "dancing around the table...everyone knows when they pay, they will stay" sounds like it should be used for a hotel commercial! TRACKLISTING

Amore (Music & Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
A very aggressive synth starts this track off (sounding like a weird guitar synth), although the song is in fact a slowish ballad. This time the verses are in Hebrew, while the chorus is English. The music is kept fresh and alive with this mixture of different languages, different styles of singing and traditional versus cutting edge music. TRACKLISTING

Im Nin Alu 2000 (Music: Traditional / Arrangement: Peterson / Lyrics: Shabazi, Aloni)
A gorgeous chant by Ofra starts off this modern re-interpretation of the traditional theme. Aggressive orchestra hits, high-pitch strings, and middle-eastern inspired melodic phrases make this one of the top songs on this album. Anyone interested in cross-over works will be suitably impressed by this song. Additional English lyrics were written specially for this song by Bezalel Aloni. The traditional theme has been kept but the backing arrangement has been completely modernised with strange otherworldly effects and heavenly synthesiser cadences. The song immediately grabs your attention and holds it for the duration of the song. It would be very interesting (and successful) I think to hear a whole album of modernised traditional songs by Frank. TRACKLISTING

Sixth Sense (Music: Peterson, Haza, Aloni / Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
After such upbeat tracks, it's time to slow down a bit into a song reminiscent of the romantic ballads from Dive. The 'falling water' effect heard in Sadisfaction and Enigma makes a welcome return in this Hebrew-lyrics song (with one repeated line of English for the chorus). Even though this is a ballad, the drumming is nice and powerful (Frank used mostly synthesiser drumloops for this album, which I like very much and they sound very appropriate). The chorus is — like all the other songs on this album — very infectious. TRACKLISTING

My Ethiopian Boy (Music & Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
Although Frank did not write music or lyrics for this song, you hear that it is him at the helm of the album's arrangement. Ofra's vocals mingle with ethnic chant samples, on top of a basic beat and gentle synth chords. The ethnic samples (which sounds African, but is in fact Middle Eastern) are beautiful and one can hear the difference between an 'ordinary' pop-ballad and a Frank Peterson-ballad. A Koto-style (Japanese stringed instrument) instrumental also makes an appearance later in the song. A fade-out takes us to the next track...what awaits us there? TRACKLISTING

Ahava (Music: Peterson, Haza, Aloni / Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
Suddenly the speakers are filled with heavy electric guitar strumming before the music breaks into a tambourine percussion line. Eerie backing vocals which sound like effected opera/choir samples are to be heard throughout adding an uneasy atmosphere to the verse. Suddenly there's silence as Ofra loudly sings "I love you so much!". The dark and eerie feel of the verse makes the chorus stand out even more, it literally soars above the rest of the song (a great trick of Peterson's). The electric guitar in the beginning is played throughout, except it is used as a backing instrument and is only heard occasionally. Ofra sings a gentle piece in Hebrew again before repeating the chorus. For the first time on the album, the instrumental is done using a strange synth lead instrument which adds to the weirdness and beauty of the song. The lead takes the song even higher before abruptly giving us a quiet bridge where the choir vocals are heard in the distance — but they are used more like an instrument than a lead. One expects the song to end here, but instead we are treated to a few more minutes of this beautiful song. This is followed by a drum-less bridge which provides a great b-vocal approach to the lead instrument. The sounds of something breaking is then heard, while Ofra hums as the music grows stronger and more tense. Suddenly the music explodes into the usual chorus followed by the instrumental solo repeated a few times for a rousing finale! This song is another remarkable piece, and at almost seven minutes long it is amazing to see how Peterson keeps the song fresh and vibrant throughout. It is like A Question of Honour by Sarah Brightman. TRACKLISTING

No Time to Hate ( Music: Peterson, Haza, Aloni / Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
To bring us down from that amazing and bombastic tune, we are greeted by gentle dream piano notes and some ambient synthesiser sounds. The verse is ballad-like with sparse arrangement, but the chorus introduces a few more instruments as well as having a memorable theme. The song is mostly quiet for it's first three-quarters (adding some heavier drums during the second verse and later chorus repeats) before an affected bagpipe plays the chorus melody. It is a beautiful song, although not particularly outstanding on this album (but that's due to the fact that it has such heavy competition with the other songs here) and just a pity more people who write ballads don't do this sort of arrangement. TRACKLISTING

You've got a Friend (Music & Lyrics: Carole King)
A very jazzy piano and guitar open this track, but keep with it. Suddenly a hip-hop style beat enters and Ofra sings very beautifully this famous Carole King song. I was a bit worried that this would be a basic adaptation of the original (which I like but not necessarily on this album), but Peterson made a wonderful intimate feel along with a welcome beat and rhythm. Overall though it is quite jazzy and acoustic (the only synthesiser sounds are electric piano) which taken on it's own is perfect, but in the light of the other songs on this album it seems out of place. However Ofra handles the vocals sufficiently well, and fans of the original should enjoy this version a great deal. TRACKLISTING

You ( Music: Peterson, Haza, Aloni / Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
After that romantic interlude, we are brought back into the main atmosphere of the album again with dark cello plucks that echo wonderfully from speaker to speaker which creates a wonderful disorientating effect. Ofra sings the first verse with just these strings and other pizzicato strings which sound quite classical. However the strings constantly build up before crashing into a slowish rock-style drum-line and Ofra's echoing vocals in another rousing chorus. This song sounds similar in approach to Sarah Brightman's Eden with it's contemporary-classical crossover Ofra hums and ad-libs a little over the ending of the song before giving it her all in the last chorus repeat. TRACKLISTING

Give me a Sign (Music: Peterson, Haza, Aloni / Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
Remarkable is the only word that could possibly describe this song! It is the La Mer for this album. Opening immediately with quasi-opera vocals (no actual words) by Ofra, we are taken into the quite well-known rhythm and bassline used in Gregorian and La Mer. Ofra intones a French verse (interlaced with her singing "a flame of hope and love"). The chorus sounds a little like a rock song with some brief electric guitar, but what makes this song amazing is the gentle and heavenly opera singing with soft piano, synthesiser parts and strong beats — all of which are used often. Ofra provides another spine-tingling chant towards the end of the song. The track is a great complement to the previous one, You as it is hopeful and light. TRACKLISTING

One Day (Music: Peterson, Haza, Aloni / Lyrics: Haza, Aloni)
However, the last song on the album returns us to a dark atmosphere with strings plucked and Tony (Dawson) Harrison speaking the verse. Harrison was the rapper for the now-defunct eurodance group The Captain Hollywood Project. Ofra starts singing a semi-chant "heya hey ya" before the main song starts with a soft and gentle beat as she continues into sad Hebrew singing. Again there is lots of use in backing vocals which adds a very layered sound to the song. Tony then speaks a second verse before Ofra repeats her chanting and chorus. Overall the song leaves you on a hopeful note, and like on all other Peterson albums, wanting to start listening to it all over again. TRACKLISTING