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Rashanim: Shalosh

Troy Collins By

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Shalosh is the third release by guitarist Jon Madof's power trio Rashanim. One of the leading lights of the Radical Jewish Culture movement, Madof works with his electrifying trio to update traditional Yiddish and Hassidic melodies with the infectious rhythms of surf music and the throttling, riff-driven frenzy of indie rock.

Not all impetuous energy and testosterone, the trio explores a range of emotions with maturity and restraint, providing sonic space even in the densest passages. Resonating with cinematic atmosphere, a number of pieces are purely acoustic, delivered with subtly nuanced dynamics. Winding their way throughout the album, these compositions weave a broad aural canvas for the trio to work with.

Unlike their previous album, the stellar Masada Rock (Tzadik, 2005), which featured interpretations of John Zorn's Masada songbook, this release finds them exploring all original material (and one traditional tune), ripe with pop song tunefulness.

Although Madof is the ensemble's principal composer, bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz and drummer Mathias Künzli play far more than support roles in his excursions. Their interplay is tight and in the pocket. Blumenkranz makes a number of arresting statements on a highly manipulated electric bass, using a ring modulator to excellent effect on "Yosefa." His psychedelic, pitch-bend fuzz solo on "Ein Gedi" perfectly complements Madof's wigged-out, Hendrixian wah-wah meltdown. Künzli demonstrates a keen wit, easily navigating the snappy drive of "Cracow Niggun," with its slippery dynamics and sudden tempo shifts.

Madof makes his solo statements with a rich, searing tone and an occasional torque of the wah-wah pedal. His bright, clean timbre on the surf-oriented themes is rich with slap-back reverb and deep echo; "Atbash" even conjures a long forgotten spy theme. His swirling statements on "Kavanah" build from melancholy blues digressions to anthemic opulence on the gradually intensifying forward momentum of "Kavanah."

From the brisk surf rock of "Yosefa" and "Atbash" to the lacerating, metal-tinged power-chord riffing of "Ein Gedi," the slashing, feedback-drenched "Jacob and Esau," and the gorgeously reserved acoustic meditations of "Da'At," "Jerusalem" and "Ar Aare," Rashanim veers far and wide, covering a range of styles and moods. One of the year's most entertaining releases, rich with memorable melodies and haunting themes, Shalosh is not to be missed.

Track Listing: Ein Gedi; Yosefa; Atbash; Da'At; Cracow Niggun; Kavanah; Jacob and Esau; Jerusalem; Ur Ur Lauter Georg; Ar Aare.

Personnel: Jon Madof: guitars; Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: electric bass, upright bass, oud, Gimbri; Mathias K

Title: Shalosh | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tzadik

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