dream disk 88 224.
(photo credit: )
KABBALAH DREAM ORCHESTRA
Ancient of Days
While in Safed, global ethnic progressive pop experimenter Daniel Fries found himself spending a lot of time with Rabbi Shalom Pasternak, a Chabadnik with a special love for niggun - the hypnotic, wordless melodies of the Chassidim. Together they have created a strong suite of niggunim set to unconventional arrangements that employ electronic beats and trippy sound effects. According to the Kabbalah Dream Orchestra's bio blurb on its official myspace page, this album could fall under any number of genres: "Sitar Shofar Chillout? Yiddish R&B? Jewish Flamenco Dub House? Electronic Bossa-Niggun?"
This album is highly reminiscent of Eden Mi Qedem's dense, throbbing ethnic arrangements. But while that band draws its inspiration from the East, the Dream Orchestra's melodies are grounded strictly in Ashkenazic tradition. When it references tropical dub styles, the album even sounds a bit like the recent Matisyahu remix disc - especially on "Stone Houses" and "Kinder."
The disc opens with "Benoni," which juxtaposes traditional Torah chanting with a deliciously dirty beat, a style that returns on the piano-led Dust Brothers-like breaks of "Ballroom Angels." On "Avinu Malkenu," the a cappella intro gives way to a loungey, dubby xylophone jam that includes a soul-pop vocal plea followed by a Latin guitar solo.
The album cuts even deeper towards the end, with "In 3"'s meandering atmospherics, swirly effects, sax and didgeridoo parts making nine minutes of seemingly limitless production layers. At its weaker moments, Ancient of Days delves into less creative string arrangements (as with "Poltavision") but there are so many strong elements at play that it's hard not to love the disc.
DR. REHAVYA PRICE
Kabbalah: The Sound of Rehavya
Rabbi Dr. Rehavya Price, a Beat'achon a cappella ensemble alum and Yale-educated psychiatrist, has produced a CD that seeks to heal through spirituality. Each of the 11 tracks here corresponds to one station on the Kabbalistic chart of the sephirot - attributes of God. Not that The Sound of Rehavya is a straight-up concept album. Thanks to the inclusion of the High Holy Day service's "Hineni" and the opening "Mi Adir," a wedding song, the disc sounds more like a sampler reel than a song cycle.
The black album cover with flames on it might imply a hard-rocking sound, but instead, we're offered boy band bubblegum - which does interest major segments of the masses. On "Hafahta," "Ki Simahtani" and "Uv'nei Yerushalayim," Price has some fun with light pop-rock. And since no Jewish pop disc would be complete without at least two piano-driven ballads, we shouldn't be surprised to hear "A Miracle Began" ("If you feel lost just hold on tight / I promise you you'll see the light / A miracle so warm and bright") and the Elton John-like "Etz Hayim."
Ben Jacobson can be reached at email@example.com.