Black Ox Orkestar
Pity the poor record store clerk who has to find a place for this album. Does (s)he give it the kiss of death, and send it to the reject gallows of “world music?” The decidedly Eastern European slant of their music and all Yiddish lyrics could sway those weak of character, but no, this album deserves a better fate than that. Perhaps place it alongside its Constellation Records post-rock brethren? Members of Silver Mt. Zion and Sackville make up three-fourths of the group … but then again, most of these songs are traditional Jewish folk songs. Not much room for extended improvising here. Maybe just nonchalantly slip it into “rock” and call it square?
Let’s assume at this point, after mind wracking, cred. questioning hours of uncertainty, that our clerk gives up and just keeps the disc up by the counter and in regular rotation on the store’s stereo. (S)he has chosen wisely. There is something elegantly ancient about the instrumentals on this album, especially “Nign,” “Skocne” (a dance that sounds like it’s plucked on icicles) and the foggy, meditative “Shvartze Flamen, Vayser Fayer.” Perhaps it’s just me being uncultured, but I enjoy these instrumentals over the songs with lyrics. Maybe I’m just a little leery of song lines that translate into English as “He dances a Hora on Arab bones.” Regardless, musically Ver Tanzt? is a very intense, challenging and beautiful example of a regional folk music to which most people are rarely, if ever, exposed. Like I said before, have pity on our clerk and take this off their hands. I’m sure they’ll gladly pass the filing conundrum on to you.
Constellation Records: http://www.cstrecords.com/