Jewish Music Blog

January 10, 2006

Link Dump

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishmusic @ 7:49 pm

I’m not sure if this is a joke, but here’s a link: HaKol Kol Yaakov.

I just found the yahoo Jewish music group. Lev Tahor posts on here and there are many interesting discussions.

January 5, 2006

Sameach Podcast Lev Tahor 4 Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishmusic @ 8:30 pm

This week’s Sameach Music Podcast features a Lev Tahor 4 Review by none other than me. After my post on the content of the previous review, Sameach contacted me and offered me the job of reviewing – at least for this week. They were gracious enough to send me a complimentary copy of Lev Tahor 4 to review. If you get a chance listen to the podcast and please tell me what you think about the review. Although I devoted a lot of time and effort into both the writing and recording of the review, there is no way I can be objective so I would appreciate any contructive criticism.

Lev Tahor 4 – Review

Filed under: Reviews — jewishmusic @ 8:27 pm

With all sequels the first question that comes to mind is: “does it bring anything new to the table, or is it more of just the same?” Regarding Lev Tahor 4, the answer is, a lot new. The sound of Lev Tahor 4 is dramatically different than Lev Tahor 2 – Lev Tahor’s previous music release. The arrangers are Leib Yaacov Rigler, who arranged Lev Tahor 2, as well as Jeff Horvitch who arranged the two Trax to Relax albums and Eli Schwebel, Lev Tahor’s main vocalist. This group of arrangers certainly had a lot of new ideas to add to this album – everything from 90s style pop in Chaveirim to film score like orchestral arrangements in Uvnei. Rigler’s style is evident in many of the string arrangements and vocal arrangements, while Horvitch’s style is clear from the synth drums as well as the atmosphere and bell sounds. Lev Tahor 2’s sound was full of great grooves, while Lev Tahor 4 is more concerned about large sounding orchestral soundscapes.

The rhythm section musicians are pretty standard – Yaron Gotfried on piano for 6 songs, Avi Singolda for guitars on every track, and a relative newcomer, Avi Avidani, on drums for 5 songs. The piano on the rest of the tracks are covered primarily by Jeff Horvitch, and I assume the drums fall under the heading of synths, again covered primarily by Horvitch. I would have actually preferred to have Horvitch or Rigler or Yaron Gershovsky, who’s conspicuously absent from this album, to cover keys on the entire album and the use of a different drummer with more groove. Yaron Gotfried is an excellent pianist with great skill and proficiency and he is undoubtedly a great classical player and sight reader, but when it comes to Jewish music which is many respects is more like jazz in its interpretation, Gotfried seems stale. Everything from his lack of dynamics to his voicings doesn’t add much drive or emotion to the songs he plays. On the songs he does play piano, the piano is barely noticeable (except of course ballads where the arrangement is based around piano). Although this can be blamed on arrangement, I don’t think this is the case because of the way Gotfried plays on other albums, the fact that on songs which piano is covered by someone else the piano adds much more, and the fact that Yaron Gershovsky added so much more to the songs he played on in Lev Tahor 2. The same goes for Avi Avidani. His drumming is tight and solid, but his fills are repetitive and he doesn’t have that “extra something”. I also disagree with the mixing of the drums. I prefer tighter sounding and more compressed drums, not the big sounding sound which seems to pervade Jewish music, with a couple of exceptions. Again my disappointment with Avidani’s sound can be an arrangement decision.

The songs themselves aren’t as memorable as Lev Tahor 2, but are still pleasant to listen to. 8 out of 11 songs are ballads. I’m a little disappointed at the small number of fast tunes – just to even things out if for no other reason. I suppose the large number of ballads fits into the arrangers’ concern about orchestral soundscapes. The catchiest song on the album is Im Lavan Garti, an almost Latin disco. The second song, Moshe, is a ballad which really seems to get a point across. The piano sound and rhythm remind on a certain pop boy-band’s incomplete popular single. The song Chaveirim is more like a ballad than rock or disco. The intro to Avinu, number 4, is the theme to Shrek, but no credit is given. Auto-tune is noticeable throughout this song on one of the vocalists, especially at 2:35. I guess that vocalist had a bad voice day. On the subject of vocals, many of the songs have extremely high vocals, which I don’t particularly care for. Song 6, Atah Echod, introduces the punchy horn section. Gut Shabbos has an interesting, mysterious sounding intro and leads directly into Shrias HaLev, an aptly titled song which seems to be a continuation of the previous song. The hora Kol Hami’oneg is the final fast song, sounds a little like a Yehuda! song and uses interesting clapping sounds for percussion. Songs 10 and 11 have large orchestral arrangements. The intro to U’venei sounds like it could have led into a fast song, but it leads into a ballad.

Lev Tahor 4 doesn’t just pick up where Lev Tahor 2 left, it sets out on a new path. The music is dramatically different, and many of the songs get a point across. The arrangement is augmented by Jeff Horvitch, and the music is balanced – more attention was given to the music as a whole and the direction of the songs from an arrangement perspective as opposed to just throwing together a bunch of musicians and having them take turns playing sections.

January 4, 2006

Tek-Noy – Review

Filed under: Reviews — jewishmusic @ 3:33 pm

When I first heard the title Tek-Noy, I wasn’t sure what to think – yeshivish techno? This conjured up images of yeshivah guys banging their heads against their gemorahs. Although I’m not a techno expert, after reading wikipedia’s definition of techno, I came away with the impression that techno is fast electronic music usually without words. Although this album has a more electronic focus than Gerstner’s previous albums, luckily it is far from being all techno. There are several ballads such as Ani Kirasicha, as well as 70s style disco in Da Lifnei and Horiu, a Latin pop song, which don’t have much electronic music, and all the songs have words.

Another impression I got from the album cover was that Tek-Noy was a new Gerstner group. In fact, the two Yo-Yo’s (Yossi Sharf, Yossi Newman) are just back-up singers; they rarely, if at all, sing lead. Although it seems that Eli Gerstner wanted to market this as something other than just the next Eli Gerstner Album, in my eyes, this album is just Eli Gerstner 4.

Although techno paints a picture of something more rocky than rock, in many ways this album is less rocky than Gerstner’s previous album. Most of the songs don’t have extensive overdrive guitar, and the ballads usually stay ballads and don’t revert into Gerstner-esque rock-wanna-be songs.

The most techno oriented songs are Shene’emar, a catchy Gerstner style fast tune which revolves around a very simple chord progression, Sapru, and Hu Yiftach.

A couple of songs are worthy of note. I really like the song Yiram. First, the words fit perfectly into the melody which really adds drive to this ballad. The tune itself revolves around a progression that many Gerstner tunes do not use and the tune does not sound like a typical Gerstner song. The song Da Lifnei is a 70s style disco complete with wah guitar, octave bass, pitch bent strings and hand clapping sounds. The Yo-Yos take the place of backup singers. Although the song itself isn’t great, the arrangement is cute.

All in all this album is typical Gerstner, but it seems that Gerstner is learning to balance his music. Although there is a lot of three-part harmony, there is very little overdriven rhythm guitar and the songs don’t sound too cluttered. Don’t let the title scare you off – this album is far from all techno.

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