Evenly split between instrumentals and vocal tunes, this debut album is a compelling blend of originals and new arrangements for pieces pulled from various Eastern European songbooks. The band aimed to expand the definition of Jewish diasporic music, by learning and reinterpreting songs and rhythms from all over Slavic and Balkan Europe. Lyrics are in Yiddish and speak forcefully to the bloody history and intractable contradictions of Jewish diaspora and ‘return’. With backgrounds in punk-rock, free-jazz, and other liberation musics, the all-acoustic playing on this record benefits from a genuinely spirited delivery and intensely original approaches to arrangements that never feel forced. This is modern folk music from Eastern European sources played strong, unburdened by antiseptic production and/or cheap sentimentality.
Songs range from the propulsive to the sublimely restrained. “Fishelakh in Vaser” explodes with a pumping free-music rhythm section, “Cretan Song” is a staccato Balkan dance, and “Ver Tantz?” is an angry, politically-charged klezmer-punk original. Instrumentals “Shvartze Flamen…” and “Nign”, along with the brilliant original “Toyte Goyes” (lyrics taken from a poem by Yiddish writer Itzik Fefer) are meditative and heartrending. Jessica Moss (violin, bass clarinet), Thierry Amar (contrebasse) and Scott Levine Gilmore (vocals, mandolin, cymbalom, drums) all play or played in Silver Mt. Zion, and Gabe Levine (clarinet, guitar) was chief songwriter in Sackville.
1. Shvartze Flamen, Vayser Fayer
2. Papir Iz Dokh Vays
3. Fishelakh In Vaser
4. Cretan Song
5. Ver Tanzt?
6. Stav Ya Pitu
8. Toyte Goyes In Shineln
10. Forn Forstu
12. Moscowitz Terkisher
13. Di Khasene
Running time: 00:43:06
LP is pressed on 180g audiophile vinyl and comes in a thick printed jacket with lyrics insert.
CD comes in a custom paperboard mini-gatefold jacket with a printed CD dust sleeve and lyrics insert.
Scott Levine Gilmore: mandolin, cymbalom, guitar, drums, violin, harmonium, voice
Gabe Levine: clarinet, guitar, bass clarinet
Jessica Moss: violin, bass clarinet
GUESTSJesse Levine: piano on TRACK 5; accordion on TRACK 9
Nadia Moss: piano on TRACK 12
Recorded and mixed at the Hotel2Tango in Montreal by Howard Bilerman, winter 2003. Mastered by Harris Newman.