Winner of the 2007 Indie Acoustic Award for "Best Album, in the Earasian category"
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Pink Floyd and PJ Harvey crossed paths in a cafe in Israel and subsequently took a road trip to South Africa? What if they met up with Radiohead in Morocco along the way? The result would be close to what you'll find in Haran, the latest achievement of the Jewish folk group, Pharaoh's Daughter. Infusing an eclectic instrumental blend of traditional Judaic tunes with Arabic rhythm and African beats, Haran is an infectiously beautiful album full of haunting joy. Read More »
- Katharine Heller - newyorkcool.com - July 2007
Thousand-year-old Sabbath songs (zmirot, not Ozzy), Hebrew- and Aramaic-language vocals, and Kabalistic poetry — exactly what comes to mind when you think hip downtown band, right? On their fifth album, the ancient, worldly Judaica that’s inspired the NYC-based Pharaoh’s Daughter blends better than ever with the secular modernism of the indie world. Crisp, pinpoint rhythms, rumbling, insistent bass, and Fillmore-era organ lines flirt with Eastern oud, santur, and kamanche as the reverent gets along famously with the edgy. Front and center is Basya Schechter, the group’s beguiling, much-traveled vocalist, whose malleable, often multi-tracked vocals take flight amid the airtight, shape-shifting ensemble playing. Schechter captivates, whether she’s singing nigun (wordlessly), as on “By Way of Haran,” or retelling the tale of “Hagar” (Biblical, not Sammy). Overt West African and Arabic melodic and harmonic principles inform, respectively, “Askinu,” with its jewel-like kora, and the Ladino folk of “Ven Hermosa.” But the wild jam-band takeoff of “Enpesare,” with its runaway drums and accordion/bass duel, is no less comfortable or unexpected within Pharaoh’s Daughter’s divine communion of the spiritual and the terrestrial.
- by Jeff Tamarkin - thephoenix.com - July 2, 2007 - Rating: 3.0 stars
"The spiritual kid sister of Ofra Haza checks in with something that's Jewish but sure ain't Klezmer. World beat with roots in Aramaic and Kabbalah bases, this is a spirited set that gleefully mixmasters lessons learned as Basya Schechter moved across the world and picked and chose elements she wanted to assemble her identify from. Certainly a spirited set that reflects the youthful, progressive side of world beat, this can be as at home in clubs as anywhere else. Wild stuff that plays with abandon and is sure to grab your ears."
- Midwest Record
"Turkish hash bars meet Hasidic Brooklyn juke joints with '70's era psych rock well in tow. That is the perfect description of what's in store for a listener of the magical journey subtly titled "Haran". Raised among a religious upbringing, the bandleader and vocalist Basya Schechter evokes images of rebellion with her love of Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Rolling Stones. But its rock heroes who've graciously lent their wisdom to her willing ears and lead her to help fashion one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring world beat albums of the year."
- J-Sin, Smother
"Haran was the starting place for the journey of Abraham, and this sumptuous album of Hasidic psychedelic rock ranges just as widely. Pharaoh's Daughter deploy a rich range of musical colours: Ray-Manzarek-style keyboards on "By Way Of Haran", a frenetic hammered santur solo on "Ka Ribon", kora on "Askinu", spike fiddles and ney flutes elsewhere. Basya Schechter's vocals range from wordless nigun to Biblical, Ladino and Kabbalistic texts. Haran is intricately detailed, inventive and endlessly surprising."
- David Honigmann; Financial Times, London
"PD is the magical child of once-Orthodox multi-instrumentalist Basya Schecter. Tonight's the record release for Haran, which sounds even more layered and complex in its Middle Eastern instrumentation and world-beat fusion than her previous (and equally excellent) releases."
- Bosler, Village Voice
Basya and Friends: Uncategorically Awesome Last night's Pharaoh's Daughter show at the new Highline Ballroom -- a partially Jewcy-endorsed record release party -- made me extremely happy to be alive. Basya Schechter is the real deal: when she's in the room, sniveling shreds of persistent irony pretty much run for cover. Endless categorizing of this crazy new kind of Jewish identification -- hey, anyone heard of this new magazine called Heeb? Apparently hip kids today are, like, into being Jewish! Maybe they'll all marry Jews and reproduce! Look, a menorah full of dildos! OMG, "vodka" rhymes with "latke"! -- seem ever more inconsequential and lame in the face of such deeply felt, widely-based, religiously unquantifiable, utterly solid music. Not that it's an either/or proposition; there's certainly room for whatever kind of allegedly "hipster" "movement" any Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter cares to earnestly relay. But it comes down to this: a dozen superb musicians -- from Israel, Japan, Switzerland, America, and Africa -- led in Hebrew, Ladino, and Arabic song by the magnificent, Yeshiva-educated Schechter, is a triumph of substance and style. That said, Tahl had better be sorry he stood me up.
- Elisa Albert, "Pharaoh's Daughter: For Reals," May 15, 2007, Jewcy.com
"Now compare that to Basya Schechter and her band, Pharoah's Daughter (below) performing Kah Ribon (a piece from their upcoming album "Haran.") Pharaoh's Daughter is one of the truly talented groups producing new Jewish music today, synthesizing a vast array of musical influences (Indian ragas, Arabic folk, hasidic niggunim) to create something both original yet utterly authentic."
- SHALOM RAV: Rabbi Brant's blog
"This highly anticipated release lives every bit up to expectations, and then some. With help from producer Fred Rubens, the album showcases the band's signature Middle Eastern sound with modern-day grit and attitude. It features the earnest vocals and oud and saz playing of leader Basya Schechter as well as stellar performances by core band members playing violin, bass, organ, recorders, accordian, drums, and percussion. Rounding it out are solid guest performances including Alan Kushan on santur, Adam Levy (of Norah Jones' band) on guitar, and others. This music is exquisite but edgy, authentic but contemporary, and absolutely infectious. This is World music at its best--intricate and nuanced, but utterly accessible, blending swirling, syncopated seas of polyrhythm with beautiful, singable melodies. Pharaoh's Daughter's scope may be compared to that of Bla Fleck, who also draws from a wide array of musical traditions and sounds. However, while Fleck's combinations can sometimes sound forced, these always seem to work perfectly. Highlights include a Celtic-infused "Kah Ribon" with santur, Jason Lindner's psychedelic organ over Schecter's oud on "By Way of Haran," Levy's guitar on the haunting "Hagar," and the rich, sensuous violin of Meg Okura on "Samai."
- "A reviewer, a lover of music", 05/16/2007, Barnes & Noble.com