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TRACK LIST: 1. They Believe We Exist 3:43 2. Die for Us 5:25 3. It Is-1 3:22 4. It Is-2 3:57 5. It Is-3 2:17 6. It Is-4 1:15 7. It Is-5 2:58 8. It Is-6 3:39 9. It Is-7 6:30 10. Piece of Cake 4:05 11. Flirting with Hope 1:41 12. Five to Dusk 3:12 13. Candy Rehab 1:36 14. All of the Above 1:28 LINEUP: Lior Arinos – drums, percussion Kristine Sykes – vocals; flute Roei Remez – keyboards Yuval Aviguy – guitars Avsha Elan – guitars, bass With: Tal Gilbert-Khun – double bass Rooly Eliezerov – saxophone Tali Rubenstein – recorders Maayan Carmelie – violin Emily Bennet – violin &: Several more (additional) flautists, drummers & singers
Prolusion. TELIOF is an Israeli outfit, formed in Tel Aviv in 2006 by Lior Arinos, Avsha Elan and Yuval Aviguy. They immediately started writing and recording material for their debut album. A demo saw the light of day in 2007 and in 2008 a fully worked through and slightly expanded version of the demo was issued as the band's official debut album named "Is It?". In the meantime the band has expanded, with Roei Remez and Kristine Sykes joining to handle keyboards and vocals respectively.
Analysis. The stated vision of Teliof is to "create a musical palette of diverse, original pieces which are innovative, intriguing, instrumental, rich in melody and harmony, hard-driving, yet gentle and soothing, with any degrees in-between thrown in for good measure". A rather ambitious vision and one they haven't remained 100% faithful to either, as they include vocals on selected compositions and background vocals as a common feature throughout. But apart from that, their vision can be regarded as an apt description of what you'll find on their debut production. Here are many key features on this creation and more styles more or less briefly explored than it is possible to describe in a review. Those who enjoy creating new genre tags to describe even nuanced differences in sound and stylistic expressions would have a field day with this album and could easily have filled an entire review with such tags alone. Noting down everything happening in the individual compositions is a challenging task as well: adept writers mastering touch and shorthand with extensive musical knowledge might just be able to do that. In terms of musical styles visited on this production, various brands of art rock might arguably be said to be the foundation for the compositions, with frequent inclusions of elements and segments with distinctive traits from folk music, classical music and jazz. The songs are constantly evolving and changing affairs, where individual themes in most instances are briefly visited and explored before being left behind for new territories. Despite this, each track maintains an atmosphere of being one individual creation. From what I could hear, this is mostly done by extensive use of interwoven melodic fragments and short themes leading the songs from one territory to the next; where the sounds or rhythms taking the song onwards then are markedly changed or replaced by others, while those that appear at the start of the new landscape explored are ones taking the song to the next level, where they in turn are transformed or substituted by new sounds again. This leads to highly fluent compositions with many details, textures and nuances to keep track of, and songs you can listen to over and over again and always discover new details or grasp how different textures discovered previously actually fit together to form a whole. In expression, the album as a whole is highly melodic, with strong melodies dominating throughout. These aren't simple structures though, as careful use of disharmonies, dissonant and even cacophonic-like elements are utilized as effects throughout; in some instances we're even served parts with a multitude of harmonic as well as disharmonic layers, on the surface appearing as a richly textured melody, but on closer listening revealing itself to be a highly complicated creation. Amidst all this complexity the songs on this album are actually highly enjoyable affairs too. Not enjoyable as in despite being complex of course, but as in "this is a group of musicians who don't take themselves too seriously". They incorporate some fun effects at times, like in part 6 of the epic title piece, when at one point in time voices and sounds are mixed into the song in such a clever manner that I had to take my headphones off and start looking around in my apartment to see if anybody was there. There are a few effects of a similar manner spread throughout, which is great fun to come across. One more dimension to this production worth noting is that most of the songs, at least for me, come across as liberally spiced with religious melodic elements. The backing vocals and voices in particular, but often the overall atmosphere as well, are created in a manner that makes me think of religious music: a charming part of the album as far as I'm concerned, but those who for some reason regard religion in general and religious music in particular as something negative may find this element somewhat alienating.
Conclusion. Teliof's debut album "Is It?" is a wonderfully adventurous affair, perhaps even to the point of being described as unique and certainly highly deserving of the characterization of progressive. Highly recommended to those looking for innovative, creative music offering plenty of complexities and details to discover and enjoy and in particular to those who prefer that music of this kind can belong to the progressive rock genre.
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