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(72 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Adventure in Space 4:27 2. There's a Face in the Sky 4:04 3. Moon 4:36 4. Sabres 15003 6:07 5. Habhabibi Give Me a Kiss 4:37 6. Ladies & Gentlemen 3:34 7. Johnny Baby's Nightmare 8:46 8. Man & Ape 6:44 9. The End of the Play 4:47 10. Heretz 11:56 11. Five Camels 5:12 12. Tomatoes 7:17 All tracks: by Frenkel, except 9: Bachar. Produced by Frenkel. LINEUP: Lior Frenkel - guitars; synthesizers; vocals Nadav Bachar - guitars Shaul Eshet - keyboards Oran Ben-Avi - saxophones Lior Ron - trumpets Ben Hendler - bass Eres Koskas - drums Yael Kraus - vocals
Prolusion. It happens very rarely that a band with many years of experience behind them decides to release an eponymous album, as did Genesis in 1983 and Candlemass in 2005, marking a change in their musical direction. This is not the case, however. Although Israel's HOT FUR was formed ten years ago, this is their first release.
Analysis. It would be difficult to define the style chosen by this band with one term. Apart from Art-Rock, there are numerous influences from other genres, particularly RIO, Jazz-Fusion, psychedelic and ethnic music. The overall sound is lush and well balanced, except for the rhythm section, whose parts somewhat lack expression at times. The album is made up of twelve tracks, most of which are songs, with vocals being performed mainly by a female singer. I think no one would blame Hot Fur for being derivative. Furthermore, I can't find any bands that I consider to be analogous to them. However, originality is really the only trump up their sleeve, as not everything is smooth in the compositional development or arranging of some of the tracks. The harsh introductory theme of the opening opus, Adventure in Space, lasts too long and is monotonous in its development, which surely means it's just undeveloped. The appearance of vocals doesn't add expression to the sound, as the singing is pretty colorless and unimpressive. There's a Face in the Sky follows and is much more interesting, due to the diversity of melodic lines and in particular to the flute solos properly woven into the fabric. The nostalgia for '70s Soft Rock is in the air on the track, entitled Moon. Although the female vocals are still lacking emotionality, this matter is compensated by inventive instrumental arrangements. The instrumental piece, Sabres, is much more eventful, with good chord progressions, major themes alternating with minor ones, though the brass section is often rather annoying in its monotony. The following two numbers, Habhabibi Give Me a Kiss and Ladies & Gentlemen, are very good, revealing elements of angularity, the atmosphere being painted with dark, melancholic and psychedelic colors. The latter reminds me at times of Ravel's Bolero with a heavier and, simultaneously, more anxious sound. What follows are, in my view, the least interesting tracks: Johnny Baby's Nightmare and Man & Ape, both being rather long, which, in the absence of fantasy and inventiveness, make them sound just overextended. Quite the contrary, the relatively short The End of the Play turned out to be the most effective and is a masterpiece. The 12-minute Heretz is also among the winners, notable for a major improvement in the vocal department, as the vocalist has unexpectedly moved in a different direction, disclosing her great talent in academic singing. (Why didn't she do that everywhere on the album?) The closing track, Tomatoes, is worthy of superlatives as well. It's incredibly rich in masterful and truly inspired improvisations, particularly those of brass instruments, while some of the previous tracks are catastrophically lacking in such.
Conclusion. Having looked at the lineup of Hot Fur prior to listening to their debut CD, I expected much more from this octet and their first outing than I heard. The album is too long (72+ minutes) and is too dissimilar in content. The value of any piece of art lies in its pithiness, which doesn't depend on its longevity or any other attendant parameters. However, in tallying the number of interesting compositions, which actually exceed the unnecessary ones, I think I should give the CD a "good" overall rating.
VM: October 18, 2005
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