Middle Eastern psych, funk, disco, and Japanese folk and pop, converge to create a mesmerising new sound on ‘Kokoro’, Sababa 5 and Yurika’s collaborative debut album collecting four acclaimed singles and four brand new songs.

Sababa 5

Renowned for their innovative approach to merging Middle Eastern psych, funk and disco grooves, Sababa 5 found their perfect partner in Japanese singer and belly dancer Yurika Hanashima, who having graced stages dancing with Boom Pam and Ouzo Bazooka, found her own voice alongside the group, and together yielded hits “Tokyo Midnight”, “Nasnusa,” and “Crossroad of Love,” earning accolades from tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson, Cerys Mathews, and Jeremy Sole.

Sababa 5 was formed by a group of musicians known for their work for some of Tel Aviv’s top artists/vocalists, such as Gili YaloEster Rada, and Liraz Charhi, as well as with famous groups like Hoodna OrchestraTigris, and Kutiman Orchestra

Crossing cultural boundaries

In ‘Kokoro’, Sababa 5 and Yurika present a collection of tracks that transcend cultural boundaries and delve into the depths of human emotion. From the nostalgic romance of “Nasnusa” to the carefree “Halilim Halilim”, each song on the album tells a story of love, sisterhood, and the journey of the soul.

The title track, “Kokoro”, which embodies the essence of the album’s musical exploration, refers to the sky, the performers’ journey together, and the moment. Psychedelic soul, with touches of the Mediterranean coast and desert.

Opener “Empty Hands” explores Yurika’s theory that “when you have empty hands you get everything”, countered by the hypnotising keys of Eitan Drabkin. over an Afrobeat inspired groove, and bittersweet bassline from Amir Sadot.

Rock and psychedelia

The playful and summery “Halilim Halilim” was inadvertently named by Dani Ever Hadani of Middle Eastern psych and surf rockers, Ouzo Bazouka, and alludes to how love enters and leaves our lives like the air blown through a flute.

Ilam Smilan’s exceptional guitar playing stands out, as does the unwavering groove and rhythm of drummer Raz Man; recently heard among a coterie of feted studio musicians for Mr Bongo signing Project Gemini. On “A Flower Called Indica”, Yurika’s Japanese vocal pays tribute to the ubiquitous allure of flowers, and the powerful bonds between friends, over Sababa 5’s psychedelic groove.

The second half of the record collects Sababa 5 and Yurika’s earlier and incredibly popular singles. The dance floor smashing “Tokyo Midnight” is an uptempo psychedelic funk ripper, whilst “Nasnusa”, with its walking bassline and nostalgic love story, is the biggest hit in Sababa 5’s repertoire thus far. Love in the moment is a recurring theme as the “Crossroad Of Love” (Ai no Kousaten) delivers another timeless moment of Mediterranean meets Japanese soul.

The attraction of Yurika’s mesmerising vocals over Sababa 5’s infectious grooves is irresistible across ‘Kokoro’, and the album marks a significant milestone in both their musical journeys. As Sababa 5 continue to redefine their sound, and Yurika establishes herself as a vocalist of note, ‘Kokoro’ stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the timeless bonds of music, love and romance.

Batov Records a NMR (photo: press)