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Marbin - 2009 - "Marbin"

(35:36, Marbin)


*****+

Prolusion. MARBIN is a duo formed in 2007 by guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch, when they were still residing in Israel. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2009, after they had relocated to Chicago, USA, while their second album, recorded with the collaboration of Grammy Award winner Paul Wertico on drums and percussion, is slated for release in the late summer of 2010. Both Rabin and Markovitch appeared on Werticos latest release, Impressions of a City.

TRACK LIST:
           
1.  Abadaba 6:28
2.  Yodo 1:02
3.  Mei 7:23
4.  Miyazaki 1:40
5.  Crystal Bells 5:39
6.  Biwako 0:54
7.  Cuba 4:22
8.  Kasai 0:53
9.  Rust 5:35
10. Sleep Now 1:40 	

LINEUP:

Dani Rabin  guitars 
Danny Markovitch  saxophone
With:
Mat Davidson  vocals (3)

Analysis. Slightly longer than an EP, Marbins debut album is a sophisticated, rarefied effort that might be quite effectively described as modern chamber music. Recorded as a duo effort (with just one track featuring a guest vocalist for a brief performance), it hinges on the individual skills of Dani Rabin on guitar and Danny Markovitch on sax, occasionally fleshed out by the use of sampled percussion. Needless to say, it is the kind on music that relies on the listeners careful, involved participation not immediately energizing or captivating, its peculiar charms unfold with repeated listens, something quite rare in a world where music is seen by many as an item for quick consumption. The album is structured in a rather distinctive fashion, alternating longer compositions (the longest slightly above 7 minutes) with shorter, interlude-like pieces that, in a way, prepare the listener for tackling the more demanding stuff. While the music showcased on the album clearly uses jazz as a springboard, ambient and world influences emerge gradually at each successive listening. Marbins stripped-down format produces a sound that is delicate, at times almost flimsy, yet surprisingly expressive when such a quality is required. Rabin and Markovitchs mastery of their respective instruments is impressive, yet never overplayed - which is not always the case with all-instrumental albums. Everything here is amazingly precise, reminiscent of the tastefully minimalistic nature of a lot of Far Eastern art. Indeed, as the song titles clearly indicate, the Orient is one of the major sources of inspiration for Marbin, though not so much in musical influence as in their overall approach to composition. A track like Crystal Bells lives up to its title, with its lazy, meditative guitar excursions and sounds so exquisite as to feel almost brittle - a sort of sonic Feng Shui. Mei offers 7 minutes of liquid, extremely refined guitar enhanced by wistful sax strains and faint chanting in the background. The same melancholy, almost sad mood surfaces in the seamless interaction between the two lead instruments and distinctly ambient bent of opener Abadaba, while Latin nuances grace the slow-burning near-tango of Cuba. Rust adds a slightly more assertive tone to the endearingly lazy feel shared by all the compositions, and the shorter numbers are refreshingly wispy bits of gentle virtuosity. As the above description makes abundantly clear, Marbin is not an album that can be fully appreciated if just left to run in the background. In spite of its ambient overtones, this is not elevator music, and possesses an authentic, yet fragile kind of beauty which needs to be slowly savoured, and not just taken for granted. A nod should also go to the funny, scared-looking rabbits gracing the album cover even though somewhat at odds with the musical content, they provide a welcome touch of humour in a context that occasionally tends to take itself too seriously.

Conclusion. While Marbin is very likely to impress lovers of ambient-tinged, sophisticated jazz, those in search of energy and excitement may well be underwhelmed by the album. This is indeed a disc to be approached with the care dedicated to beautiful, fragile things definitely not something that will have an immediate kind of impact.

RB=Raffaella Berry: July 27, 2010
The Rating Room


Marbin - 2009 - "Marbin"

*****+

Analysis. Progressive rock is a genre that reaches out in a great number of directions to incorporate influences from other stylistic expressions. It is one of the fundamental aspects of this genre that musicians seek to be more adventurous than your average mainstream-oriented act in terms of expression as well as composition. In the case of Marbin we're dealing with an act that most likely will be regarded as residing on the borderline between jazz and progressive rock, where the emphasis on jazz arguably places them inside that category of music rather than within the progressive rock universe. When that is said, genre aficionados may heartily disagree with this notion, and some may argue that this album might be better described as a venture belonging to the new age segment of music first and foremost due to the dampened, dreamlike sound explored here. The songs are slow to mid-paced affairs with an emphasis on gentle melodic explorations set within a distinctly mellow musical framework. Guitars and saxophone apparently provide all the details in the arrangements, with a guest singer adding a variety of non-verbal vocals to the third track, Mei. Gentle, dreamlike music with melodic guitar and saxophone soloing doesn't really sound like much of a progressive production of course, and for the jazz enthusiast an expression like lounge music might be a tempting category to employ at this point. But when granting the songs more attention, the musical backdrop will soon reveal that there's quite a lot going on here. The arrangements are sophisticated and elaborate, with multiple layers of guitars in particular adding a myriad of details to be savored as subtle additions to the soloing themes that dominate the proceedings. Many of the saxophone parts are actually rather energetic as well, contrasting with the dampened guitar foundation in pace as well as expression. In total this adds quite a lot of charming and intriguing details to the proceedings, from multi-faceted details enhancing the main themes explored to subtle dissonances providing tension-inducing dimensions by way of finesse rather than stark contrast. The main characteristics of this album are compositions exploring mellow and dreamlike territories though, and while it has been constructed with a great deal of subtlety, it is a disc that most likely will have a limited appeal for those who wants their music to be truly challenging.

Conclusion. Dreamlike, sophisticated music with elaborate details is what Marbin offers on its self-titled debut effort, blending characteristics of jazz, rock and ambient music in compositions featuring rich arrangements and subtle dimensions to discover for the attentive listener. Arguably more of a jazz effort than a progressive rock one, it is an album that mostly will be of interest to people with a soft spot for mellow music with an emphasis on distinct melodies and strong atmospheres.

OMB=Olav M Bjornses: Agst 1, 2010
The Rating Room


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