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The Friends of Natasha - Changes in Screaming Habits

On November 27, 1991, "The Friends of Natasha" made history with one of the most complete and perfect albums released in Israel, "Changes in Screaming Habits" (Shinuim Be-hergelei Hatzricha).

Stay with us for more coverage in the "Class of 91'" series, on the masterpiece albums released in that wonderful year.

If "The Friends of Natasha" debut album from 1989 presented the potential inherent in the band, then on this album that talent simply exploded.

Those who were present at the competition of young bands at the exhibition grounds in Tel Aviv in the summer of 1987, surely noticed the potential of "The Friends of Natasha". We witness it with our own eyes. there was a spark that could not be missed. Danny Bassan, who was one of the judges of the competition, also saw it, and even though the band did not win the competition, he recommended them to his friend from the band "Tislam", Yair Nitsani, who was then the CEO of "Hed Artzi" record company and was responsible for finding talents such as "Noar Sholim" Adam and more. Even in this case, Nitsani did not miss a second and hurried to sign them up on a recording contract. He invited another member of "Tislam" - Yizhar Ashdot to produce one of the successful debut albums, released in Israel. "The Friends of Natasha" released in 1989 sold about 40,000 copies and produced successful songs such as "Melancholy", "At Lo", "Shir Acher", "Neemar Kvar Hakol", "Yesh Zman", "Yesh Bach" and more.

In 1990, drummer Jean-Paul Zimbris joined the band, and the classic line-up of the band, which included

Arkadi Duchin (vocals and keyboards), Micah Shitrit (vocals and guitar), Miki Harari (lead guitar), and Shlomo (Kozo) Almakis (bass) was completed.

At the end of 1990, "The Friends of Natasha" and "Hed Artzi" parted ways and the band began to look for a producer for their next album, based on the initial materials they had started writing. They were helped by a former employee of Hed Artzi who introduced them to Dani Tamir, who came from the business world. Dani was the owner of "Creative Thinking Ltd", one of the centers in consulting in the fields of investment banking and IPOs, and chairman and CEO of "Tibon Veal" (Meat) who had a seat on various boards of directors. But more than anything, Dani had a great love affair with music, he played the piano and really liked the first record of "The Friends of Natasha", so he immediately enlisted to help.

At the beginning of 1991, when Saddam Hussein decided to test the strength of the sealed rooms in Tel Aviv, "The Friends of Natasha" appeared armed with AV masks and a tape with song sketches at Dani's house, and after about two hours the production started. Some understandings were formed between "The Friends of Natasha" and Dani. Dani asked that 20 songs will be formulated during the rehearsal period, of which 12 will be selected for the album, and that a rehearsal room will be rented, to formulate the piece before entering the recording rooms. The band rented a rehearsal room on the edge of "Carmel" Market in Tel Aviv, where they rehearsed, day and night, for over 7 weeks until they had concluded the song ready for the recording.

The creative process was accompanied by the "First Gulf War". Missiles, gas, masks, sealed rooms, and Scud missiles, undoubtedly contributed to the final result. The resulting album is less depressive than its predecessor, more romantic, and even ironic. A more mature album, with brilliant texts and catchy and melodious tunes, by Shitrit and Duchin, who included the formula of the debut album into musical perfection. The band did not succumb to the global trends of "alternative" and grunge" that dominated the music market in 1991 and decided to combine several musical styles whose common denominator is "classic rock".

But with all the amazing writing ability of Shitrit and Duchin, this album probably wouldn't have sounded like it is without its music producer - Yossi Elephant, who was suggested to the band by Dani Tamir. Musician, guitarist, arranger, and music producer known among others from "Rhetoric Band", who played, produced, and was a member of Ehud Banai's "Refugees" band, participated in the rock opera "Mami" and had a tremendous record as someone who worked with Fortis-Sakharof, Gidi Gov and more. An understanding was formed between Dani and Elephant on how to manage the project and divide the duties between them.

Elephant was not just a producer. He became an integral part of the band. He advised, directed, guided, and even participated in writing one of the album's songs. He pulled the band towards greater use of guitars, with one of the most prominent examples of this being "Seder Olami Hadash" which Elephant also participated in writing. Elephant's influence was so substantial that it seems to have left a mark on the band's musical development.

Dani's contribution to the creation was also substantial. He brought the idea for the orchestral arrangements that hover over the album's songs and add so much to its charm. He held a series of meetings with Arkadi, which were devoted, among other things, to the idea of ​​incorporating string instruments into the record. Dani took Arkady to a concert by the "Rishon LeTzyon Orchestra" at the Tel Aviv Museum, and thus Arkadi's original idea of ​​combining 4 instruments led to the combination of 13 string players. Dani Tamir took Arkadi's sketches to Nir Brand, a conductor who graduated from the Academy of Music, who turned them into scores that were incorporated into the recordings.

The band members said that the recording process was empowering and fulfilling. The atmosphere was good and it felt like a kind of release for them to leave the sealed rooms and gas masks and enter the studio and it undoubtedly affected the result.

This is one of the most beautiful albums released in Israel. One of those one-off albums, where all the circumstances come together in a masterful way and become a perfect creation. Almost every song on this album is a "bomb". Even when you're sure you've just listened to the best song on the album, the next one comes along and makes you think differently. An amazing and unimaginable sequence of songs that have become part of the Israeli soundtrack and will remain here forever.

The album that begins with the mesmerizing "Bedaka Achat Shfuya" and ends with "Im Kvar Levad" with the orchestral arrangement reminiscent of that of George Martin with "the Beatles" (thanks to Dani Tamir's advice), feels like one complete and perfect work, one that wraps Concept albums of the sixties and seventies.

This "classic rock" atmosphere runs through all the songs on the album. "Bedaka Achat Shfuya" ("Pink Floyd"), the Billy Joel's piano, "The Byrds" guitar effect, and the orchestral arrangements in "Al Titpashti Li". The folk-Irish guitar and country banjo of "Ani Ohev Otach", the open chords and vocal harmonies of "Od Negia", the bouncy rock 'n' roll and backing vocals of "Asi Li Et HaMavet", the old organ sound influenced by "Procol Harum" on "Shnei Sipurei Ahava Ktanim", the arpeggios in "Al Kav Hazinuk", the pulsating bass rhythm and the harmonic violins in "Ish Bli Netzach" and more.

Unfortunately, Elephant died of a heart attack about two months after the end of the recordings and did not get to see the fruits of his labor and the tremendous success of the album. With Yossi's death and to express a special tribute to him, it was decided to include a track in the album that Arkadi wrote and played and which Arkadi and Dani named "Kimat Optimi". The piece was recorded aftElephant'sant death and is dedicated to his memory and is the shortest piece recorded on an album in Israel.

The cover of the album was formed from the idea of ​​Dani who noticed that Kozo draws on matchboxes. Dani suggested that the album cover be based on Kozo's paintings and so it was done. The band chose to shoot the inside album cover with the late photographer Micah Kirchner, who suggested that they be shot at the old labor camp in the Dead Sea. And so the "friends" went down for two days of mess, vacation, and photos that appear on the album.

We are willing to bet, that there is no chance that a music lover (whatever the style) who lives and grows up in Israel does not know at least one of the songs of this masterful album, and we believe that this fact alone is a testament to its greatness. An album deeply engraved in the history of Israeli music for generations.

After more than 30 years after its release, it can already be clearly said that "Changes in the Screaming Habits" is one of the perfect albums created in Israel. An album in which all the circumstances that surrounded it combined into a single, special, rare, and great artistic magic. Simply an eternal classic Made In Israel.

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