Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Black Ox Orkestar

Emerging from the vibrant Canadian art-rock music scene of the early 2000's, Black Ox Orkestar released two albums, Ver Tanzt? and Nisht Azoy (Not Like This) of contemporary Jewish music that are dark, haunting and intense. The albums clearly draw on Askenazi Jewish roots, with evocations to klezmer, cantorial and Yiddish folk motifs. The albums draw on contemporary jazz, folk, and art-rock influences as well, but without the 'aren't we clever and eclectic' feel that often mars musical hybrids. These albums are on a short list of my favorites, both for their musical depth and for their ability to evoke, for a few moments, a world where new Jewish culture thrived and renewed itself instead of degenerating into apathy, nostalgia, or pastiche.

Nisht Azoy
Nisht Azoy - BLACK OX ORKESTAR by Constellation Records

Here's the Orkestar's official blurb. Gotta love the phrase "Anchored to tradition without being suffocated by it." Exactly. We need more of that.

"The second record by Montreal’s Black Ox Orkestar placed the group at the forefront of a ‘new Jewish music’ that rejected contemporary fusion and musty nostalgia in equal measure. With backgrounds in folk, punk-rock and free jazz, the group’s four musicians distilled Balkan, Central Asian, Arabic and Slavic sources into a coherent, impassioned sound that gave teeth to old Jewish songs. Never relying on museum-piece reverence or an obvious, forced collision of musical forms, Black Ox rewrote a Yiddish songbook in ways that sound organically anchored to tradition without being suffocated by it."

1 comment:

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