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Tracklist: 1. One By One 3:27 2. Crown 6:36 3. The Coin 8:41 4. Twilight 3:30 5. Introduction To the Event 2:12 6. The Event 4:24 7. Tel-Aviv Stress 3:21 8. Substitute 3:49 9. The Well 11:29 Music & lyrics by: Shachar Hendel (tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, & 9), Orj Hendel (1,3,7, & 8). Line-up: Shachar Hendel - lead vocals; analog & digital keyboards, grand piano; drum-programming Orj Hendel - electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, charango; darbuka drums; backing vocals Sharon Rinat - recorders; vocals & vocalizes Guest musicians: Corrine Schlomovitch - violin (on 1) Hagar Dagan - flute (on 9) Nohar Rosenthal - backing vocals (on 9) Merav Ben-David - vocals (on 7) Benny Hendel - vocals (on 5)
Prologue. "The Event" is the debut album by the Israeli band The Ashqelon Quilt, which was released by the UK's premier Prog-label "Hi-Note Music" just last December. In fact, however, these classical music students had been working on this album during all of their university years. To be sure, it is by no means easy to combine ones studies along with creative endeavors, especially in such a long-suffering and restless country as Israel.
The Album. Almost all of the songs that are featured on "The Event" album were created within the framework of a unified stylistics. Although, in a general sense, The Ashqelon Quilt's music can't be defined differently than Symphonic Progressive, in itself, at least instrumentally, it is in many ways original and unique. In fact, the contents of "The Event" represent a moderately complex and rather mellow Classic Art-Rock with the elements of the Baroque music and Jewish folk melodies as well. Each of the album's nine songs is marked with refreshing ideas, though a few of them contain vocal parts that are obviously influenced by The Beatles. Which, though, in no way can cover a distinct originality of the band's music. Introduction To the Event (track 4) is the only track here, which is inconsistent with the album's unified stylistics. It consists of only classical-like passages of grand piano and the joint singing by Shachar and Benny Hendels, which either creates the united vocally instrumental arrangements or interchange with each other. The last track on the album, The Well, is, undoubtedly, the best song on the album. Long and epic, it is filled with each possible ingredient that constitutes essential Progressive and featured by the most diverse and large-scaled instrumental arrangements. (Which, in addition, include very unusual Doom-Metal-like riffs of guitar. However, it must be said that the instrumental arrangements flow nonstop throughout the album, regardless whether Shachar (or Sharon) sings at the moment or not. Which, as all of us know, is the characteristic feature of the Classic Progressive. All seven of the remaining tracks on the album are also filled with very tasteful, colourful, and diverse arrangements, created by masterly solos and passages of electric and acoustic guitar, piano and synthesizer, violin and recorder, and interplay between each of them as well. Frequent changes of tone and mood make an overall musical palette of the album very intriguing. Back to the vocals and vocal arrangements in general, most of them, but especially the beautiful choruses by Sharon Rinat, are, on the whole, rather dramatic and have a slight gothic feel, which is, usually, typical for northern (Scandinavian, to be precise) bands - like Norway's White Willow, for example. Surprisingly enough, the sound of the drum machine and its programming in general turned out to be very good here. As for the "dabuka" drums, their sound is especially evident on The Coin and The Event (tracks 3 & 6). Despite the excellent sound of the programmed drums, I would have preferred to listen to those powerful percussion instruments throughout the album. The only song where there aren't any percussion instruments at all, is Substitute (track 8).
Summary. Although until now I've heard only one Israeli Prog band, Artland (to read the review of their debut album, click here), I am almost sure that The Asqelon Quilt is the best band to ever come out of Israel. Their album "The Event" has everything to be mentioned among the most unique works of the Art-Rock genre in the new millennium. Furthermore, this album comes highly recommended not only to all of the 'classic' Prog-lovers, but also to most of the Neo-fans.
VM. February 11, 2002
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