1997 Island Records
Leave it to my friend Steve from Fissionpile.com to ruin anything science fiction/spiritual oriented. Steve talked through the entire movie Stargate, telling me how their time travel techniques werenít really possible, and he disected The Matrix to death.
I was enthralled by the pictures in the sleeve of Wally Brillís The Covenant of white-coated scientists examining kabbalah outlines. Furthermore, the track A Loop In Time is about "people in little suits from the book of Ezekiel". I couldnít wait to play it for Steve so I could win our ongoing arguments, but he was utterly turned off. Not only were the kabbalah symbols all wrong, he said, but the science references out of context.
In spite of Steve, The Covenant remains a highly engaging CD, specifically the track Rtzeh. I played it on the show and a lady called up breathlessly telling me how it was the most beautiful and amazing piece of music she ever heard in her life. A violin starts the first four bars followed by a flurry of drums and percussion. A hard rock guitar punctuates the beats. By the time Sirotaís soaring voice comes in, the listener is hooked. I love playing it back to back with the original Gershon Sirota version with is available on Great Voices of the Synagogue.
And thatís the magic of this album. The former producer of Ofra Haza and other Jewish artists took a collection on old 78 rmp cantorial records and remixed them. The music is electronic/techno/ambient in nature. Lots of synthesizers and beats give the operatic Biblical Hebrew vocals a haunting and hypnotic sound similar to Deep Forest or Enigma.
Well-loved cantors who ruled in the 1920ís and 1930s such as Pierre Pinchik, Samuel Malavsky and Ben Zion Kapov-Kagan reign again in a modern electronica way. Wally Brill justifies it by comparing it to the canters who performed outside the synagogues in the opera houses of Europe in days of past.
A couple of tracks have English spoken word segments about Judaism. The cantors, in traditional style, hold out long notes and use a lot of trills. Their vocals are not always the focus of the song, but sometimes more like backing, or samples.
Standout tracks are Kiddush Le-Shabbat which was included on several compilation CDs and A Typical Day, which features the spoken word of Holocaust survivor Helen Lazar.
If you donít mind a little pseudo-science Deepak Chopra spirituality then this might just be the most amazing CD you have ever heard in your life. Close your eyes and the voices of your great-grandfathers will pierce right through your soul.
Copyright 2003 Jewish Community Radio