tek noy 88.
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New York native Aliza Hava is descended from an esteemed rabbinical family that includes Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Rabinowitz, "the Biala Rebbe" of 18th century Poland. Her brother, Daniel Sieradski, is the Jewish culture maven behind initiatives including the Jewschool blog and Jerusalem's Corner Prophets rap collective.
Now a resident of Israel, Hava has performed her spiritual, socially conscious folk and femme rock at the 2005 United Nations International Day of Peace, at a World Peace Prayer Ceremony at the Washington Monument and at clubs in North America and around Israel. Hava's acoustic demo CD was recently reconfigured as a complete LP called Rise thanks to the production vision of Jimmy Goodman and impressive session work from mandolin player Dave Ellison, drummer Hector Becerra, bassist Chris Macchia and guitarist John Trent. The ensemble convened at a studio in New York state for sessions this past spring.
Rise is a ferocious album with mainstream potential that uses a sound along the lines of Tracy Bonham and early Alanis Morissette. A certain grandiosity fills the disc, thanks mostly to songs like "Child of the Sun," "Hands of Time" and the title track. "The Powers That Be" is laden with slow harmonies, while "Worth of Water" uses a stripped-down guitar rhythm. The album is a hodgepodge of heady philosophy as well, with the opening song referencing I Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of Changes. "On the Inside," meanwhile, calls for introspective prayer, and the title track deals with the gap between personal and nationalist dreams.
Take boy-band visionaries Lou Pearlman (the man responsible for the Backstreet Boys and NSync) and Maurice Starr (New Edition and New Kids on the Block), add a bit of Torah and you'll get Eli Gerstner. A producer, composer and vocalist, Gerstner is the mastermind behind religious pop sensations Yosis Orchestra, Chevra, the Yeshiva Boys Choir and several solo projects. The name of Tek-Noy, Gerstner's latest project, is a Yiddish-sounding mispronunciation of "techno."
That's right - this is a Hassidic pop album anchored by dance club beats, which Gerstner recorded in Brooklyn and has described as his best work to date. Tek-Noy's core vocal trio is made up of Gerstner, Chevra choreographer Yossi Sharf and Yeshiva Boys Choir co-founder Yossi Newman, each of whom receives his own glamour shot (complete with black suits and felt kippot) in the disc's liner notes.
"Yarim," "Sapru" and the opening "Shenemar" are all big dance pop tracks, while "Hu Yiftach" is given an authentic clubby arrangement and "Da Lifnei" sports a super-fly funk groove. The Tek-Noy formula is abandoned at points on the disc, most commonly for the cheesy, schmaltzy balladry of "Ani Kiroseecha," "Oz Bekol" and "Lashon Rimiya."
For bubblegum pop consumers looking for a bit more Torah in their collections, this is the disc of the year. The rest of us can just say noy thank you.
Ben Jacobson can be reached at email@example.com.