The album I'm talking about today is Desert Butterflies, from Yossi Sassi, a founder of the metal band Orphaned Land, in this case full "owner" of the project.
I've never done research on the music of Israel, and I do not know what kind of fervor sound is in place, hidden - or enhanced - by problems of social and political nature, so important to be able to influence artistic and cultural aspects that are often the way escape to the serenity and personal revenge.
It 'was then with curiosity - and the next surprise - that I approached an unknown world, which sees an absolute star - Yossi Sassi - genius of the instrument, capable of inventing what for me is the first example of guitar / bouzouky, time into a single "body", but careful enough in promoting the choral expression at the expense enterprising staff.
Eleven tracks to make a disc conceptual, focusing on the new challenges that escape from the daily routine in an effort to create the conditions for a future based on a better quality of life, and it is these concepts that unite the souls of every country, even those in apparent state of peace.
The music offered is something amazing, definitely a novelty for the Italian public. The combination of rock and prog lines to the specific culture of the place of origin create an unusual sound, where ethnic acoustic and electric folk are added to the side, creating a product is not common, varied and refined.
Yossi uses 19 different types of guitars, with the aim to enhance the details of his music, taking care of every facet that accompanies the melodic verse, those oriental and the "hardness" that only a power group manages to achieve success and to share with.
And in this music that comes from Israel, there is also an Italian presence, for the participation of "our" Mariangela Demurtas, Yossi mentioned in the interview below.
Difficult to provide a traditional location for the proposal of Sassi, and maybe the follow video will clarify the ideas, but I want to emphasize how what we often go to look for - a new sound - is that contained in Desert Butterflies, an album that could open the door to a parallel conception of Music, a container waiting to be discovered and shared.
How would you describe your music for the Italian public and for those who do not know you?
The music is a merger between roots and folklore from around the world, especially oriental and Mediterranean roots, fused with contemporary music, with emphasis on rock. It’s a mix of oriental rock with world music, and the journey you go through is diverse and intense.
How was borne your passion for music and what were your most important musical references?
I was born into a family of music. My father was 4th child out of 10 brothers and sisters, all of them play musical instruments or sing, or doing both. My grandfather Yossef Sassi (I am his namesake) was a Bouzouki and Oud player, and teacher of Arabic scales - makamat. My influences were my family, my father especially, and music from all around the world - from Dead can Dance, to Joe Satriani, through Dream Theater and up to Omar Faruk Takbilek.
You are considered a guitar hero, but what emerges from listening to your music is a sound overall, as a team: am I wrong?
Indeed, there is a clear sense of a band. I am used to work with other musicians, perform and cooperate in groups. In my solo group it is a team sound, although I compose and arrange the songs, still each and every talented musician brings his color and style.
Can you tell me something about this new album, "Desert Butterflies"?
The new album 'Desert Butterflies' was recorded in 4 countries and 3 continents, actually including a singer from Sardinia, Mariangela Demurtas (Moonspell, Tristania). It features musicians and good friends such as Marty Friedman, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (Guns'n'Roses) and many more. I play 19(!) different guitars there, and all songs are part of a concept album, about the routine, following your dreams, and leaving the familiar to new big challenges.
In one song there is an Italian singer, Mariangela Demurtas: how started your collaboration?
Mariangela is a great singer and amazing person. We met few years ago in some festivals, and I was impressed by her voice and stage performance. I also have some Italian blood in me (quarter Italian, from my father's side), maybe that's the reason we connected well. Ever since we kept in touch, and when I was working on the song 'Believe', I was looking for a singer to sing in Spanish or Italian, and she was the first to come in mind. She gave an amazing performance on the album, as well as in live shows, when we play together.
I was intrigued by the Bouzouki-Guitar, your invention: can you tell me about it?
It's one body, 2 necks, 3 souls / instruments - Electric, acoustic and bouzouki guitars in one instrument. In 2011, I decided to plan an instrument that would later become an embodiment of my musical journey. I had a clear need for an efficient way to switch between the acoustic Greek Bouzouki to my electric guitar, and after many tries and hard work, it gave birth to the "Bouzoukitara" - a unique instrument that combines a traditional Greek mandolin (Bouzouki) with an electric solid-body guitar. Together with Luthier Bejamin Millar, I was able to transform this design into reality.
Could you tell me something about the state of music in your country?
Sadly, music and culture in general are not as big as I would hope them to be in Israel. Coming from a region undergoing struggles and disputes, sometimes music steps aside to more urgent issues. But that's also the reason why it's so important for me to do music in my country, and for ALL the neighboring countries - music is the true universal language that bridges between people. It has the power to unite people where politicians fail. And that's where I pick up the guitar and do what I love to do best!
Is there any chance to see you soon in Italy, for a presentation of your album?
Sure! We’re working on some dates for Europe, and Italy should be included. I've already toured in Italy with my previous release 'Melting Clocks', in Prato and Milano, and hopefully will be back soon. Grazie!