Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

The Mysterious Darkcho Album Is Back in Print

What a beautiful, haunting, sad album. Some might call it indie klezmer. The Darkcho album is old Hasidic cantorial music set to sparse acoustic or electric guitar with occasional trumpet or accordion. Not much is known about this. It was independently released as a very limited edition in 2004 and is now available from Shemspeed as a name-your-own-price download (a hard copy is ten bucks and well worth it). Who are these guys? From a look at the duo credited on the album, an extensive search for guitarist David Brook turns up nothing musically related. There is a Jonathan Harkham who has recorded acoustic Americana guitar music as “Johnny Bigtime,” who may be responsible for the Hebrew vocals here. The mystery only adds to the appeal. Traditional Jewish themes have long been staples of pop music – listen to anything released in the US prior to 1910 and it probably has a klezmer influence. And every surf and ska band knows Hava Nagila and plenty of others too, so this isn’t as far outside the mainstream as it might seem.

The slow instrumental Mah Lecho sets the tone for what’s to come, trumpet sailing mournfully over nimble, terse acoustic guitar and then accordion. The sad waltz Ki Hinei adds quiet noir tremolo guitar, followed by a klezmer theme redone with rustic Appalachian harmonica. The familiar, haunting theme Mizmor L’David is reimagined as spaghetti western; Brook’s guitar hammer-ons add a tinge of country to Eilu V’Eilu Omrim, and then the trumpet jumps in for an instant crescendo. The rest of the album takes on a feel that’s both stately and otherworldly: the expansive, accordion-driven title track; the slow, funereal Rachamono; the simple Anim Z’meiros, where the instruments all double the vocal line; the gentle Keili Ato, which builds from soft guitar folk to a march, and the concluding cut, a more sparse reprise of the King David theme. The somewhat lo-fi, reverb-toned production enhances the ghostly ambience. And the beauty and raw soul of the melodies transcends any religious connotation: this could be a smash hit far beyond the small if enthusiastic klezmer demimonde.

September 7, 2010 Posted by | folk music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments