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 aims 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 aim to 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.
01 Shvartze flamen, vayser fayer
02 Papir iz dokh vays
03 Fishelakh in vaser
04 Cretan song
05 Ver tanzt?
06 Stav ya pitu
08 Toyte goyes in shineln
10 Forn forstu
12 Moscowitz terkisher
13 Di khasene
Thierry Amar: contrabass
Scott Levine Gilmore: mandolin, cymbalom, guitar, drums, violin, harmonium, voice
Gabe Levine: clarinet, guitar, bass clarinet
Jessica Moss: violin, bass clarinet
Jesse Levine: piano on 05; accordion on 09
Nadia Moss: piano on 12