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Band World Rock


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"Disk Review"

Samuel Nelson grew up a secular Jew in Westchester, New York, listening to classic and edgy guitar rock from the likes of the Doors and Jane's Addiction. As a young adult, he embarked on a spiritual journey that led him to Zen Buddhism in Japan, Hassidism at the Bat Ayin Yeshiva, and now to family life and Middle Eastern sounds in Jerusalem.

Soon after arriving in Israel in the late Nineties, Nelson founded Shimshak, a band whose extended jams traversed the worlds of Jerry Garcia, George Clinton and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, with several Nelson originals taking shape as well. The group's weekly gigs at Mike's Place drew an eclectic and dedicated fan base. (Shimshak drummer Ari Leichtberg's appearance on the new Heedoosh album means that two of the most powerful and significant Jewish music releases of the summer have been from Shimshak alumni.)

After Shimshak disbanded, Nelson formed Eden Mi Qedem. The band plays original and classic piyutim accompanied by both sounds from the Arab world and driving, psychedelic guitar rock. Nelson describes the concept behind Eden Mi Qedem as the yearning to bring the ethnic and sonic harmony of the past into the future, a theme carried out via the disc's sound and lyrics.

The collection throws electronic rhythms and effects into the Eden Mi Qedem mix. While the recording is not always as invigorating as the group's more guitar-heavy and jammed-out live performances, it is a masterpiece of spiritual ethnic rock. Jangling strumming draws the listener into "Sof Davar" ("End of the Thing") while muezzin-style chants pepper interludes on "Yedid Nefesh" ("Soul Mate"). Layers of hand percussion and computer-generated beats build and collapse, while some of Israel's greatest players of exotic string instruments show off their chops. Nelson's stunning vocals drench every track.

- Jerusalem Post

"Debut Disk ranks #2 in top 10"

Jewish Discs: Year in review
2. Eden Mi Qedem
Eden Mi Qedem (self-release)
Eden Mi Qedem visionary Samuel Nelson describes his band as trying to combine the harmonies of the past with the future. On stage, the band mixes original and classic Piyutim with psychedelic guitar rock, but in the studio, Nelson has thrown electronic rhythms and effects into the mix. The album is a masterpiece of spiritual rock, with an infectious blend of muezzin-style chanting, layers of hand percussion and computer-generated beats that build and break down - all anchored by Nelson's stunning vocal tone.

- Jerusalem Post

"Great New Disc"

An extremely mature debut album from an artist whose palette remarkably transcends the classification of "Middle-Eastern-Rock-Fusion." A unifying theme of cultural and, more importantly, spiritual syncretism is omnipresent in the rhythms, melodies, instrumentation, and subject matter of this unique 45+ minute foray, the likes of which one rarely hears emanating from the international music scene. Exotic yet intimate, universal yet deeply personal, atmospheric and intelligent yet funky and danceable, this album deserves an extremely wide audience in the present moment, which I hope it receives in scores. - A review from "Chazarmaveth"(


Debut title album "'Eden Mi Qedem" (Ancient Eden)
June 2006



In 2006 the band 'Eden Mi Qedem shocked the world (well, maybe not the WHOLE world!) with it's debut CD: World music? Psychedelic Jam band? Middle Eastern rock? The bands music is such a natural blend of East/West Rock/Pop, English/Arabic/and Hebrew lyrics, that people from all spectrums have come to appreciate it. Over the past year the band came to feel that a name change was in order, to reflect their continuing journeys: Semantra.

"Semantra" are ancient wooden percussion instruments that have been used throughout the Middle East for over millenium. Their main purpose: To summon people to prayer.

Semantra also is a hybrid word: semantic+mantra. This connection needs to be contemplated in order to be understood.