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Bedtime Story - 2007 - "Bedtime Story"

(41:47 / 'The Wild Places')


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TRACK LIST:                                 
                                           
1.  Little Magic Mushrooms 7:39
2.  In a Cage 4:55
3.  Land of the Dreams 5:25
4.  The Irremovable Mask 7:22
5.  Pearl-I 8:24
6.  Pearl-II 8:00

LINEUP:

Lior Havkin - el. & ac. guitars, sitar, Indian harp; keyboards
Leon B - vocals; bass, cello & viola
Or Argash - drums, darbuka
Orpaz Agranov - sampling, programming

Prolusion. BEDTIME STORY, from Israel, is the brainchild of Lior Havkin and Orpaz Agranov who formed the quartet at the very beginning of 2003, while Leon B and Or Argash joined them somewhat later. This self-titled Bedtime Story album is undoubtedly their debut release. When my wife pointed out the band's name isn't too apt for a rock outfit, I at first agreed, then recalled the proverb "When in Rome do as the Romans do", but finally arrived at the following idea: Why didn't the Romans did as the Israelites did when staying there in Judea?

Analysis. This 42-minute CD is made up of six relatively long songs with English lyrics, most of which instantly take me back to the early '70s atmosphere. The first half of the recording is just a choice selection, consisting exclusively of standouts: the exotic Little Magic Mushrooms, the driving In a Cage, and the ethereal Land of the Dreams are all imbued with a naturally vintage aura, avoiding any comparisons despite sounding very familiar, magic residing everywhere. All through these three compositions the young Israelis display a non-youthfully mature experience, which finds its reflection in the sophisticated structural and dynamic shades and the dexterous interaction among all the musicians. The opening tune (suggesting its makers share Carlos Castaneda's worldview) is simply a killer, touching the subconscious like an energetic remedy. Playing a variety of chamber and ethnic instruments (Sitar, Indian harp, Darbuka and more) apart from those from Prog Rock's conventional arsenal, the band at first acoustically explores the musical areas of India and Middle East, then bring the spirit of those lands into the world of European music, and finally enter the realm of intense, so to say classically compelling symphonic Art-Rock with a full-band sound, but already without oriental colorations. By taking the album in its entirety, I can assert that Leon B who, besides singing, plays bass, cello and viola, is the most original voice in the band. He possesses the ability to convert his vocals with ease from a classic vintage refinement (Little Magic Mushrooms) to a more aggressive intonation (such as on the hard-rocker In a Cage), to an almost gothic mannerism (Land of the Dreams, where he is joined by a guest female vocalist, their singing being only supported by acoustic guitar and synthesizer), to a floating reverie as on the last two tracks. Unfortunately the remainder is beneath criticism, compared to those three masterworks, the group unexpectedly switching over from their original style to what can't be called otherwise than mimicry etc. There's an increased accent on electric instruments everywhere on the disc's symbolical Side B, particularly on The Irremovable Mask, the sole track that plunges me into modern sound and which seems to be really marked with irremovable traces of outside factors, though the latter remark is probably even more relevant to either of its two follow-ups. The only time Leon falls short in terms of identity is also here, his vocals echoing now Eloy's Frank Bornemann, now one Scooter, from the Austrian acid-electro-pop MTV-dwelling outfit of the same name, whose real name I was never eager to learn. The music begins very much like an intro to Steve Hillage's "Fish Rising", but later on moves back and forth between late Hawkwind-inflected Space Rock and again, Scooter. For the remaining two tracks, Pearl-I and Pearl-II, guitarist / keyboardist Lior Havkin tries on masks of both David Gilmour and Richard Wright and succeeds in that, the songs each representing a variation on Brain Damage from "Dark Side of the Moon". None of these ever leave the domain of Pink Floyd-style balladic Space Rock, despite the occasional appearance of viola or a comparatively powerful sound in the mid-section of Pearl-II. Personally I don't enjoy it when I hear just another rehash of "The lunatic is on the grass" and so on, but this CD might have such a strong commercial success that my criticism will not in the least affect its market figures.

Conclusion. Bedtime Story enters this cruel world of Rock music like two-faced Janus in a way. If they'd released the first three tracks as an EP, it would've been a brilliant creation, in all senses a superb output. Regrettably they could not overcome temptation to cite some of their idols. Nevertheless, this is definitely a band to watch in the future. They only should believe in themselves and that their original music has a greater commercial potential than they know what (let alone the creative aspect of the matter), especially since it's true in actual fact.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: January 17, 2008


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