Music Reviews
Ty Citerman

Ty Citerman

Bop Kabbalah+Voices: The Yiddish Song Cycle Live

Infrequent Seams

I have, from time to time, written about klezmer music and other material from the Judaic world. That material draws from the folk tunes of the shtetl and sticks to the musical structures of most western traditional music with clear rhythm, singable meters, and lyrics that convey story, even if I don’t know enough Yiddish to follow such stories. Bop Kabbalah+Voices: The Yiddish Song Cycle Live has opened a whole new world of sound to my jaded ears.

Citerman’s music recalls free jazz and spoken word in obscure meters. Music lies behind the words and the weird, to even non-existent, melodic structures. Five tracks occupy this project. They are titled in both Yiddish and helpful English. Two female vocalists sing and scat as a guitar provides minimalist accompaniment. I am, at first, lost on the strangeness of the project. I look for sonic handholds. They slip away like a soapy water balloon. The vocal range is amazing—any one of these pipes could lead an aria and win an ovation. I, of course, would not be allowed into that sort of opera. Something about my shirt.

I retreat to the press kit. I discover radical Yiddish labor poetry as the impetus of this project. This is not a project for those looking to dance, to rock out, or to sing along with on a long road trip. But it is for the person jaded by modern jazz, bored by the big beat, hung over from hard rock. You’ve made it this far, and you’re still reading. Ink 19 has done what it can. You, alone, must carry on the sonic quest for enlightenment from this apostle of deconstructed klezmer and discover a brave new world, accessible only to the initiates. Call me when you get there. I’ve still got a stack of mp3s to write about. Who knows what might lurk there…

Ty Citerman


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