Donnerstag, 2. Dezember 2010

Rashanim - The Gathering

2009 saw the release of this impressive all acoustic record from Rashanim. The usual brand of “instrumental-world-music-surf-folk-klezmer-rock” they usually play isn’t heavily distorted anyway. Still this set of unplugged pieces reaches an intensity not found on their previous recordings. (That said, these also range from good to excellent but don't seem as focussed)

Stylistically Rashanim take you from the fast flamenco vibe of the opening track “Judges” to acoustic rock interludes (for example the 1:57 long “Elijah’s Chariot”), guitar ballads and the slow motion “doom” country of Deborah. What unifies all of these songs is a sparse use of motifs. One or two per song, some subtle soloing here and there and you get a record focused on creating a dense atmosphere instead of virtuosic but meaningless wanking. Repetition and variation of themes is a concept you’ll find in every song on this record on a level so high, it never gets boring or actually feels repetitive. 

There’s not a single guest spot on this album. Nevertheless you’ll hear a lot more than just guitar, bass and drums. Bandleader Jon Madof occasionally pulls out a banjo and drummer Mathias Kunzli adds cowbells, plays his drum set a few times with brushes and even plays Jaw Harp. But the versatility of Shanir Blumenkranz shines even more on this record. Playing all kinds of stringed instruments (Acoustic Bass Guitar, Bass Banjo, Tiple and Chonguri) isn’t enough. He even pulls out a Glockenspiel and a Melodica. Not to mention that all 3 bandmembers create a haunting flair with beautiful chanted melodies on the closing tracks Jeremiah and Joshua. 

Even though moods and styles vary the whole albums feels very homogenous. Probably due to the small number of musicians involved. Probably due to Jon  Madof’s skills as a composer. I’d say both factors make for the stunning result. There’s a huge sense of discipline and effective use of sound present on this album. This sometimes reminds me (positively) of Ennio Morricone’s work. That said Rashanim definetly have a sound of their own that sounds very honest and passionate.

 Every song seems to be a short story told to you while sitting near a campfire. (The album artwork really suits the music here!) Mythical images will occur in your mind. Images of nature and a clear night sky. Remembering things you’ve longed for since a long time ago.  A definite amount of melancholy is contained in these melodies and performances. But after all stories are told “Joshua”s finale with those haunting chants will assure you, it’s sweet melancholy. And you’ll most likely press repeat to re-experience that journey.

Cd time: 47:54
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: Acoutic Bass Guitar, Bass Banjo, Glockenspiel, Melodica, Tiple, Chonguri, Vocals
Mathias Kunzli: Drums, Percussion, Jaw Harp, Whistling, Vocals
Jon Madof: Guitars, Banjo, Vocals

Standout tracks:
Kings 5:44
Ezekiel 3:50
Amos 5:01
Joshua 5:28


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