Raz Mesinai (born Reuel "Raziel" Mesinai in Jerusalem in 1973, raised primarily in New York City from 1976 on) is a New York City-based composer, producer, filmmaker, sound designer, writer and artist.
Since 1992, Mesinai has released 14 albums on several record labels, including ROIR, John Zorn's Tzadik imprint, Instinct, Asphodel and many others. As a film maker, Mesinai's directorial debut, Tunnel Vision, was hailed as "A 21st Century Cult Classic" by famed saxophonist, composer and film expert, John Zorn, who released the film on his own Tzadik DVD Series.
At the age of ten, Mesinai was influenced by the burgeoning b-boy/hip hop scene in New York City and, without any training or prior knowledge of music production, began experimenting with turntables, drum machines, telephone answering machines and a Boom Box, to create instrumental electro beats for Breakdancers in Manhattans Lower East Side, Harlem, and Upper West Side).
During the same period, Mesinai came across the dub classic "Garvey's Ghost" by Burning Spear, influencing Mesinai to becoming an innovator in the experimental dub and hip hop music scene in the early 90's.
Later, Mesinai became a percussionist, specializing in frame drum, as well as a pianist, developing his own unique approaches to both instruments. However, after 2000, Mesinai suffered from a neurological issue which caused him to stop performing on percussion, bringing him back to electronics, sound design and composing.
In addition to music, Mesinai became a graffiti writer and cartoonist, in most cases combining the two, and was, arguably, the first Wild Style graffiti writer in Jerusalem, Israel.
In his teens, Mesinai got an opportunity to write a short story for Marvel Comics, (Marvel Comics Presents Issue #99) where he penned in what was intended to be the first DJ villain in a main stream comic book.
Mesinai continued to write stories and draw graphic novels as a hobby. One of his stories, Badawi, was about a conflict in a fictional version of Jerusalem, where destructive walls intercept peoples dreams, and a nomadic hero enters the dreams to find the cause. Badawi was later abandoned as a graphic novel, but continued on as a musical project consisting of 7 albums so far.
During the early 1990s, Mesinai was an active DJ in the underground clubs of New York City, while simultaneously interested in the music of contemporary composers such as Morton Feldman, John Cage, Edgar Varese, György Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki, Charles Ives and Karlheinz Stockhausen, as well as Persian Classical and Gnawa music of Morocco. The combination of all allowed Mesinai to develop a synthesis of all three spectrums, and applying his own unique approaches to composition, sound design, recording and processing techniques and Dub to each musical tradition.
Around this time, Mesinai met veteran producer and engineer John Ward and started the experimental dub duo Sub Dub, which later became influential in the illbient music scene.
At the age of 22, he released his first solo album, Bedouin Sound Clash featuring HoneyChild, in 1996 on the ROIR label. His next full-length albums include Jerusalem Under Fire, released in 1998 on ROIR, The Heretic of Ether, released in 1999 on Asphodel, Sound of Midian, released on ROIR in 2001, Clones and False Prophets released in 2003 on ROIR, Safe, released in 2006 on Asphodel, and Unit of Resistance, released in 2007 on ROIR.
In the mid 90's, Mesinai met avant-garde composer John Zorn and later became a fixture in New York City's downtown music scene, improvising on percussion and live electronics. Mesinai was approached to score the Horror film Hellraiser 6, but the score was later rejected. It later became Mesinai's first album under his own name, The Unspeakable', which was released on BSI. The sophomore album as Raz Mesinai was titled Before The Law on tzadik, as well as Cyborg Acoustics and Resurrections for goatskin.
Raz Mesinai has recently announced the launching of a series of transmedia graphic novels for the iPad, under the moniker The Heretic Of Ether, as a form of non-linear storytelling he has coined Dub Fiction. Mesinai's graphic novels have been featured in Kode9 & The SpaceApe's 2011 LP Black Sun (HyperDub Records) His composition La Citadelle is featured on the 2012 album Heavy from string quartet ETHEL.
Mesinai's compositions have been featured in films by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler), Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down) and Jonathan Demme (The Truth About Charlie). In 1999, Mesinai was commissioned to compose an original score to Hellraiser 6, however the score was later thrown after being described as "Too scary" for the film. Mesinai later released a revised version of the score as his first solo album under his given name, titled "The Unspeakable" (BSI Records). In 2004, Mesinai was awarded a Sundance Composers Lab Fellowship, where he studied with film composers Thomas Newman, Jeff Beal and Edward Shearmur as well as composers Osvaldo Golijov and John Adams. Soon after, Mesinai was commissioned to score the feature film, Sorry Haters, directed by Jeff Stanzler, starring Robin Wright Penn, Sandra Oh and Abdel Kechiche. Mesinai's ability to create unique sonic textures made him a sought after sound designer and consultant for films, including Yaron Zilberman's "A Late Quartet" and Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain". In 2011, Mesinai began the process of writing, directing and producing his own film, Tunnel Vision, which was later completed and released in 2013 on the Tzadik DVD Series.Make Badawi Playlist