Black Ox Orkestar
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CST169 180gLP+flexidisc • 180gLP • CD • DL
Release date: 02 December 2022
Record Store Day
Elmhurst Records (US)
Waiting Room (US)
Waterloo Records (US)
Rough Trade (UK)
Norman Records (UK)
“Hauntingly beautiful… a celebration of continued existence.” - Bandcamp • ALBUM OF THE DAY
"Black Ox Orkestar explores the political and aesthetic perspectives of Klezmer and illustrates its musical and lyrical mosaic with themes of deportation, flight, and war… at the same time a celebration of beauty, melancholy, and idealism." - Musikexpress (DE) • 4.5 Stars
“In excellent form making its richest, most affecting music yet…an ambitious and unusual album that rewards focussed attention” - Wall Street Journal
“Its message of strength, compassion, and defiance is universal.” - Chicago Reader
“Scott Gilmore’s baritone, Thierry Amar’s contrabass and Jessica Moss’s violin excel on a series of dark chansons imbued with rich melancholy.” - MOJO ★★★★
“A compassionate and thoughtful set…there’s plenty to admire here, but the crepuscular rippling of 'Skotschne' and 'Viderkol', a bilingual piano number that heaves with delicate sorrow, are standout.” - UNCUT
“Everything Returns locates Black Ox Orkestar possibly at the end or maybe the beginning of another cycle. Whatever lays ahead this album’s importance will remain as it brings an integrity and insight that is rare.” - Backseat Mafia • 9/10
“Everything Returns is not only essential, but also an album truly born for these times.” - Sun-13
“This is an epically mournful yet redemptive and celebratory album, creating a mood last captured in this way over a decade ago.” - Vanguard Online
"This is the saddest music in the world and it makes my heart hurt, and even if most of the song’s meanings are lost to me, the pain they express is all too evident." - Narc Magazine
“Few groups can hold so many disparate feelings and ideas together in the same breath, but the stunning 'Viderkol (Echo)' occupies this impossible space. Black Ox Orkestar’s boundary-pushing exploration of Jewish folk music sounds forward-thinking while simultaneously simmering inside a timeless spirit. These sounds color in the gaps between growing shadows with poignant lucidity, like the realization of ancestral dreams.” - Foxy Digitalis
Everything Returns reconvenes the original Black Ox Orkestar lineup after a 15-year hiatus. Arising from the fertile Montréal post-punk scene of the early 2000s, the band comprises Scott Gilmore, Jessica Moss and Thierry Amar of Thee Silver Mt. Zion (Amar also continues to compose and play bass for Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Gabriel Levine of Sackville. Black Ox made two acclaimed albums of roiling acoustic avant-folk in the mid-2000s, exploring Eastern European and North African folkways through the lens of a gritty, resonant indie rock sensibility, juxtaposing interpretations of instrumentals from various Jewish, Romani and Arabic traditions with originals led by Gilmore’s politically-charged Yiddish vocals. These early albums have since become lodestars for many among a new generation of Yiddish, Klezmer and radical Jewish diasporic music practitioners and fans.
First revealing its resurrection in February 2022 with a surprise flexi 7” single issued by leftist magazine Jewish Currents as a gift to its thousands of subscribers, Black Ox has indeed fully and fruitfully reunited. Exquisitely recorded by Greg Norman (Jason Molina, Nina Nastasia, Electrical Audio), Everything Returns picks up right where the band left off: an incisively atmospheric, melancholic yet resolute album of uniquely modern Jewish folk music, with piano, violin, upright bass, clarinet and cymbalom making up the core instrumentation, and the vocal tunes sung primarily in Yiddish, alongside album centerpiece “Viderkol” and closer “Lamed-Vovnik” where English also features.
This is not fusion music, but diaspora music: a cross-cultural call and response of musical lexicons, emerging from the history of Jewish persecution and displacement, the musicology of 19th century repertoire from Jewish shtetls, the improvisational traditions of nusakh in Jewish music and taqsim in Arabic music, and a wider polyglot dialogue of Jewish, Slavic, Arabic, and Central Asian musical traditions. Lyrically and stylistically, Everything Returns connects key current issues—from refugees forced to leave their homes, to the return of fascism and exclusionary nationalism—with the legacy of modernist Yiddish poetry and song.
The new Black Ox Orkestar album is a sublime, poetic, politically-informed statement of re-energized diasporic musical intent, where Gilmore’s voice and the band’s simmering arrangements conjure an ardent, doleful balladry that echoes the sound and sensibility of artists like Tindersticks, The National, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. Everything Returns is a haunting, richly textured, darkly sparkling song cycle at once from a vanished world and very much of our time and place.
180gram LP pressed at Optimal (Germany) comes in 350gsm jacket and 300gsm inner sleeve printed on uncoated Arktika artboard with LE-UV inks. Jacket has colour flood inside. 36”x12” fold-out insert contains additional artwork and lyrics in three languages. Includes download card.
180gLP Special Edition includes exclusive flexidisc with track “Mizrakh Mi Ma'arav”, originally produced by Jewish Currents and given away with the magazine's Winter 21/22 issue.
CD comes in custom uncoated paperboard mini-gatefold jacket and printed inner sleeve. 9”x18” fold-out insert contains additional artwork and lyrics in three languages.
Thierry Amar: upright bass
Scott Gilmore: cimbalom, piano, vocals
Gabriel Levine: clarinet, bass clarinet, guitar, vocals
Jessica Moss: violin, vocals
Pierre-Guy Blanchard: drums on "Perpetual Peace", percussion on "Oysgeforn / Bessarabian Hora" and "Skotschne"
Nadia Moss: vocals on "Perpetual Peace"
Julie Houle: tuba on "Oysgeforn / Bessarabian Hora"
Craig Pedersen: trumpet on "Oysgeforn / Bessarabian Hora"
Julie Richard: tuba on "Oysgeforn / Bessarabian Hora"
Recorded by Greg Norman at Mixart Studios in Montreal, December 2021.
Track 4 (recorded remotely in Washington, D.C., Toronto, ON, and Hotel2Tango in Montreal).
Track 9 (recorded remotely in Washington, D.C. and Hotel2Tango in Montreal).
Mixed by Greg Norman at Electric Sound, Chicago.
Mastered by Harris Newman at Greymarket, Montreal.
Artwork by Black Ox Orkestar, layout and design by Ian Ilavsky.
Yiddish typesetting by Avia Moore.
Greg Norman, Nadia Moss, Abe Riesman, Beth Silver, Pete Rushefsky, Lisa Iwanycki Moore, Peter Burton, Canada Council for the Arts, Elizabeth Shulman, Raphaëlle T Benarbia, Jacques Amar, Jacques Beaudoin, Nicolas Pétrowski (Mixart), Maura Judkis and Margalit, Bee Pallomina and Leo Levine, Ezra Moss Menuck, Julius Lewy, Arielle Angel, Jacob Plitman and Jewish Currents.