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(53 min, Cuneiform)
TRACK LIST: 1. Vivisection 8:28 2. Bertha 8:22 3. Moments 2:36 4. Ahvak 16:20 5. Cement 2:49 6. Yawners 13:27 7. Ironworks 0:55 All tracks: Susser & Yarkoni, except 5: Kotton. Produced by Kerman & Koomran. LINE-UP: Udi Susser - keyboards; woodwinds; Jewish folk instruments; vocals Roy Yarkoni - keyboards & piano Ishay Sommer - bass Yehuda Kotton - guitars Dave Kerman - drums & percussion With: Udi Koomran - computer & engineering Koojain Gurchad - accordion (on 1)
Prolusion. Here is the young Israeli outfit AHVAK (Dust) and their eponymous debut album, which was released through Cuneiform Records last year. As you can see above, the drummer for the band is none other than Dave Kerman. One of the RIO movement's living legends, Dave has too many bands and projects on his statement of service to list here. (No, I'd better name a few of them, just in case: 5UU's, U Totem, Present.) Bassist Ishay Sommer and keyboardist Roy Yarkoni have two more albums to their credit. I am acquainted with both, and the reviews can be read here and here.
Analysis. Just like Par Lindh Project's "Gothic Impression", this album is 53+ minutes in length and features two short, two moderately long and two epic compositions. Well, the CD ends with the seventh track: the 50-second Ironworks. There is the sound of some machinery, accompanied by random noises, but no 'ironworkers', so I don't take that makeweight into consideration. In any case, the album is brilliant. I read several reviews of Ahvak before I've heard them, each saying they sound like one band or another. Personally, I only hear that the music is basically the Belgian-school RIO, but this particularity is certainly inadequate to make comparisons. I find the material exclusively original, and not only because there is something really innovative, which can hardly be found in the works of the genre's other performers. It's Jewish folk music, performed by dints of chamber Rock. The title track is the one with vocals (done in true RIO fashion), though it's largely instrumental anyway. Also, this is the only number in the set, which, with its dark atmosphere throughout and the almost physically perceptible tenseness of musical events, can be defined as classic RIO in pure form. There are a couple of brief episodes with only piano and flute in the show, but for the most part, the arrangements are dense and intensive, with a real hard-driving Progressive Rock sound. In spite of the large quantity of highly complex measures, conflicting themes, dissonances and the other distinct features of the genre available, the music, being totally composed, always retains its coherence and is surprisingly easy to listen to. The rather fluid and atmospheric, yet, highly intricate arrangements that occupy the first two thirds of another long track, Yawners, are definitely of a 'spacey origin'. However, I'd say this is probably the most surrealistic Space Fusion I've ever heard. Only closer to the end the album's primary style gained the upper hand over those a bit excessively eclectic maneuvers. This track displays the least progressive Rock- / music-oriented direction the band has explored on this album. However, some quantity of the like maneuvers is present also on the first two compositions. Vivisection and Bertha, each running about eight and a half minutes, are stylistically unified. Both feature a brief excursus into an avant-garde Space Fusion, but overall, they're about a really unique combination of RIO and Jewish folk music. The shorter tracks, Moments and Cement, were performed without the rhythm section and are very deep and beautiful simultaneously. The former is a piece of Avant-garde academic music. It reminds me a bit of Alfred Schnitke, the great Russian composer with German roots. Apart from chamber instruments, another features acoustic and electric guitar and is closer to the XX Century Classical music, the founder of which was Igor Stravinsky.
Conclusion. Ahvak is a group of highly experienced musicians, although most of them are in their late twenties. (It's amazing: each of the band members looks like a primary soloist, at least in all of their joint arrangements.) The creation of these guys is just another one proof that RIO is presently the only classic progressive genre that is still invulnerable to stagnation, to say the least. "Ahvak" is on par with "Othello" by their countrymen Tractor's Revenge and, hence, is a superb masterpiece. Get it at any rate if you still didn't - if you are ready to such music, of course. Top-20
VM: January 11, 2005
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