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Eden Ladin: Yequm

Dan Bilawsky By

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The universe essentially speaks to infinite space and matter. But on a smaller scale we each exist and operate within our own universe(s), more defined domains plotted out by our experiences and measured by our respective developments.

Yequm, an album that takes its title from the Hebrew word for "universe," is wholly representative of the vast musical macrocosm pianist Eden Ladin inhabits. It's a collection of original music that finds Ladin painting himself into different worlds. For starters there's the electro-isolation of "Lonely Arcade Man," a musical representation of the life of a video game character left to live alone when the game is through. Then there's a sonic snapshot of the past's persistence in "Smell/Faded Memory," a number guided through highs and lows by John Ellis' soprano; a buoyant-turned-boiling celebration of life in "Safta (Grandma)," a piece featuring a searing guitar solo from Gilad Hekselman; and some Radiohead-esque musings of a downturned sort in "Times Square," capturing both the majesty and misery endemic to Manhattan's midtown magnet.

While debut albums are often seen as proving grounds on the technical front, Ladin doesn't bite with this maiden voyage. He certainly could've gone whole hog with the razzle-dazzle approach—the lockstep runs with Ellis' tenor on "Safta (Grandma)," for example, give us a hint of the chops in there—but he proves more thoughtful in his approach. Ladin baits and catches the ears by using space to his advantage, not as a canvas begging to have every inch filled. That truth rings true whether we're talking about the wistful, Hebraic-hued nostalgia trip through the stars titled "The Way We Used To Laugh," the cosmic synth-and-vocal delight created through the pairing of Ladin's layers and guest Camila Meza's voice on "Dreams," or the hypnotic and lyrical questing of "The One Warm Hearted Man Living In The Kingdom Of Ice." This music all feels remarkably complete without ever trying to oversell itself.

Track Listing: Lonely Arcade Man; Smell/Faded Memory; From The Frozen Cave; The One Warm Hearted Man Living In The Kingdom Of Ice; The Way We Used To Laugh; Saffta (Grandma); Times Square; Dreams; Gambit; Schlompi; Autumn Song.

Personnel: Eden Ladin: piano, keyboards; Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone, EWI (1, 4, 9, 10); John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone (2, 5, 6, 7, 11); Gilad Hekselman: guitar; Harish Raghavan: bass; Daniel Dor: drums; Camila Meza: vocals (8); Yonathan Albalak: guitar (3).

Title: Yequm | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Cantagious Music

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