Sandman Project - Where Did You Go?

Format: Vinyl / Digital

Release Date: June 7, 2024


Sandman Project – Where Did You Go?

Sandman Project’s long awaited debut album Where Did You Go? is a borderless amalgam of brass heavy sounds, a document of a band whose musical tendencies mimic their open-minded ethic where Ethio- jazz, Afrobeat, American soul music and psychedelic, Mediterranean funk traverse.

Led by guitarist and composer Tal Sandman, Tel Aviv based Sandman Projects’s last release was in 2018 on their debut EP, their only existing recording. Six years later and it is no surprise this expansive work is positively brimming with an ocean of ideas, rooted in jazz, exceptionally crafted and boasting a myriad of musical pivots with a subtle but crucial production and synth touch by producer Tomer Baruch.

Absolutely key to this new recording and Tal’s adult musical upbringing and education is the ongoing influence of saxophonist Abate Barihun, sometimes known as the Ethiopian John Coltrane who is an Ethiopian Jew who emigrated to Israel in 1999. Whilst he doesn’t feature directly on the record, Tal has long been mentored and stewarded by him and she affirms that “his inspiration continues to play a crucial role in my creative process.”

And so, to the album’s title track Where Did you Go which oozes film- noir with Tal’s omnipresent Tizta sound using the Tezeta scales from Ethiopia dictating the mood whilst synths transcend and build an immersive soundscape something akin to Mulatu Astake jamming with the Fleet Foxes with Brian Eno-esque electronic manipulation.

The Sandman project line up comprises of 5 core musicians with Tal Sandman on electric guitar, Tal Avraham playing trumpet, Tal Eyal on percussion, Noam Cherchie on drums and Ariel Harrosh on bass. Additional synth and organ provided by producer Tomer Baruch and guest vocalist Dafna Shilon joins on the album closer The Other Side. The group all live in Tel Aviv with Tal living in the Jaffa neighborhood for 12 years and the official birth-place of the Sandman Project. Jaffa is a diverse urban region where Arabs, Jews, Christians and many more live harmoniously together and it’s here where Tal has been active in building community ties and where she has recently started learning Arabic. The recent and shocking violence and war in Israel and Palestine has strengthened the bonds within the Jaffa community and a sense of unity and desire for peace has pervaded echoing Tal’s wish for peace, for real and imagined boundaries to dissolve and war and survival to be replaced with compassion and humanity. Jaffa is also Tal’s place of respite and spiritual place of being, where she returned to after significant musical and creative excursions to Goa in India (where she formed the Goa Afrobeat Band) and to London where she created a branch of the Sandman Project.

Tal’s recent trip to Goa is effectively soundtracked on the album opener Karnataka, which borrows from the east, both the spirit and it’s drumming, inspired by a South Indian wedding ceremony. Trumpets and Tal’s incessant but measured guitar riffing using Indian scales transcends into a beautiful soundtrack of jazz and psychedelia energized with a propulsive funk. Temptation & Figs reverberates with a sly groove, an organ filled and chilled groove given a life affirming vibe with it repetitive and harmonized vocal pass building to a trumpet crescendo.
The cine flavoured edge of Sandman Project goes wide screen on The X Files as bizarre electronic gurgling remiss of early BBC Radiophonic recordings intertwine with horn stabs and a percussion solo. Further vintage synth excursions repeat on Cauda Equina, with Tal’s heavy fretting giving the track a funk feel, and a dreamy one as the trumpet builds. Dafna Shilon’s entrance at the end of the album on The Other Side is unique in that it brings a skank to proceedings and is the only lyrical song from the collection.

Six years in the waiting, and with plentiful personal and collective transformation giving Where Did You Go? a deeper sense of geography and global nuance, the new sound of Sandman Project is rich, porous and dreamy and essentially, full of hope.