Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Chevra Acapella



Artist’s web site: Eli Gerstner.com or The Chevra.Com

Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music.com

Reviewer: Mindy


True to my promise, I want to try to to analyze each song of the chevra a capella cd with comments.

I invite all Chevra members, including Yossi Sharf, to correct me where I err in the names of the singers.

I will start with Song #1, Gam Ki Elech.

I have personally never heard this song before, so for me it was something new. I find the way it has been arranged to beautiful, melodious, and haunting.

The song starts with a `nah nah nah'. First I think you hear David. The next person you hear is Donny. The high harmony that follows is Avi.

First melody – Gam Ki Eilech – is Avi Katz. I was so surprised that he can do a nice melody. He'd always been the `hi harmony' guy. I think Dovid does the harmony for this, which is alsosurprising, since Dovid always did low harmony – but it just may be David. Hard to tell.

Loi, loi, loi, iroh roh…. David does melody and Donny does beautiful harmony. It's quite amusing to suddenly hear them sing with a yeshivishe reish instead of the english `r'. Avi later joins in with the high harmony.

The high part, Gam Ki Elech, is done by all four, with everyone in their usual positions.

Here comes the nice part – Donny doing the high part of Loi. Loi, loi, with Avi doing an amazing very high harmony.

Part 2 of the song...

All four together, I like the way they yell in GAM! BEGEI! LOI! In the middle of the song. You hear everyone.

Now it's Dovid's turn to sing the melody for Loi Iroh Ro, with the guys going m nah nah, m nah nah, in the background.

High Part – again, amazing with the four part harmonies. Dovid and Avi come in very nicely here., And Perel thinks I only like the album cuz it's the chevra. Nope! I love the way this song was arranged!

End Part – Avi does a beautiful job. I can't get over how high he can go and sound so good.

"nah nah nah" again, Dovid and David are heard loudest, with Avi ending the `nah nah nah's – then suddenly Donny bursts into harmony going on top of Avi's melody – not an easy feat.

As I said, I love the way this song was arranged. Each member gets a moment to shine, the harmonies are so creatively arranged, layer by layer – the chevra sound, minus the techno. Do me something – I love this album….

Eilecho, song #3, is gorgeous.

The song stars with "na na na na!" Each singer sings these four bars, "na na na na" .First is David, second Dovid, third Avi, fourth Donny.

Part 1 - Avi Katz sings the melody, "Eilecho," with harmonies by I think Dovid and Donny, though its almost impossible to tell. By "Shema HaShem," Donny comes in beautifully, and you can hear the other two in the background. "Shema HaShem" again, this time David comes in over Avi's melody, and you can hear the others in the background.

High part – "Shema HaShem," is really gorgeous. David does the melody and everyone else the harmonies, which are beautiful. Back to low part – once again Avi has the melody, with all three coming in over his melody. Second time - - this time Avi comes in over the other three with a beautiful high harmony. Na, na, na again – all four, beautiful. Four part harmonies, very creative, Donny or David or both, have the melody.

Part 2 – now this is very interesting. I don't know if this is called digitally enhanced or what, but it's sort of the sound of someone singing underwater, in a cave, under the covers, whatever you may call it. Starts off with Dovid Nachman, "Eilecho, HaShem Ekra, v'El HaShem, HaShem Eschanan!" he repeats it over and over again, (Yossi calls it ‘rap’) and Donny bursts in with a very high harmony – unbelievable. I think it's David whom you hear together with Avi, but it's hard to tell. Back to normal – Dovid does "Shema HaShem" while the others do `lai, lai, lai, lai." Then Donny does Shema HaShem an octave higher – wow, what a feat. Really good. High Part – David is in melody with Avi in high harmony, Dovid in low harmony, and I'm sure Donny is in there somewhere… Back to low, "Shema HaShem," suddenly it's Avi again. Amazing how he switches from high to low so easily. A second later he's doing high harmony over everyone else's melody. You hear Dovid clearly here.

Ends off nicely, with all four together.

Nice selection! Did I do it correctly?

Next song is the controversial Simcha, which I happento love, but that will have to wait a bit…

Now, on to song 5 – V’Hoyo Limshiso I really love this song. The order of the song is pretty simple and uncomplicated, but I was surprised what a hard time I had in analyzing the voices properly. I got very confused between David and Dovid all the time, but I did it! Let’s get down to the business of analyzing it…

Okay…

Oooh oooh oooh… lol, each singer sings these three beats. The order is: Avi, Dovid, Donny, David. “V’Hoyu Limshiso Shoysoyich…” Donny. Great job! The second time, I think it’s David doing the harmony – excellent. When they sing “Kol M’valoyich,” it’s quite fascinating to note that Donny does harmony on top of himself and David. Usually, when there’s a harmony, the same person does NOT do melody, on the Chevra tapes – this is the first time I noted this deviation from Eli’s formula. Correct me if I’m wrong… “Yosis Alayich, Elokoyich…” the usual order, with low, melody, and harmony. Only this time, Dovid does the melody – I think.

“L’cho Dodi… Likras Kallah…” Gorgeous. Spine tingling. David does an amazing high part, soon joined in by the low and high harmonies. Would you believe that this song could be so beautiful? Second time around, it’s Avi Katz doing the high part, and the others harmonize.

“na na na na na…” Donny.

Part II:

Avi Katz starts out with the melody, nice and soft, “V’Hoyu Limshiso…” and suddenly for the repeat, he bursts into song an octave higher. Amazing how he switches from low to high so easily. I never noted what a rich voice he has. Wow. “Yosis Olayich….” The usual low harmonies, melodies, high harmonies, all in their places, except for the feature – I have no clue how this is called in musicalese, I’ll call it the ‘delayed harmony’, i.e. someone comes in on top of everyone else a few moments later. I think David does it, though it could be Dovid.

“Lecho Dodi…” once again David’s heartzigeh piece, really nice.
“Lecho Dodi…” second time, Avi, with his own creative twist. Very heartwarming piece, with full harmonies in the background, of course.
“Pnei Shabbos” – Avi
“Pnei Shabbos” – Donny finished off by Avi, “Oy, Nikabeloh!!!!” with the harmonies in the background. Really nice song!!!

Due to popular demand…

Here’s my analysis of Song #7, Ono HaShem. This report is being awaited with bated breath by a certain someone, who claims Ono HaShem is his favorite. Okay, okay, I hope I’ll do it justice.

This song is by far the most intense song on the album. There is so much happening on it – so many ‘delayed harmonies’ and creative high harmonies. Once again, it’s “Avi and Donny’s” song – funny how Dovid Nachman is BARELY heard on the entire album b/c he is the ‘low harmony man.’ Even David Pearlman does not get many solos, although you do hear his melody a lot. Since Avi and Donny are the high harmony guys, you hear them the most, and strangely enough, Avi gets most of the melodies on this album, so he’s all over the place. Is this the chasanim conspiracy?
Lol.
So, let’s get down to work… my, what a complicated song!
“oooh oooh oooh”… I think it’s Dovid. “nah nah nah” Donny, loud and strong. Back to nice and soft nah nah’s – Dovid, Avi, Donny, and David with his ‘neh neh nah nah’ – u gotta hear this song to know what I’m talking about!!! It’s a very creative beginning, different from the usual nahnahnahs. Then, all four together again, with Donny ending it in high harmony.

“Ono HaShem, Ono HaShem, Ki Ani Avdecho…” Donny does melody with Dovid in low harmony. Very nice. Second time around: “Ono HaShem, Ono HaShem,” For the life of me I cannot figure out who’s doing the harmony to Donny’s melody. It sounds suspiciously like Dovid. I’ve never noticed him doing a high harmony. But his voice is very distinctive; it’s GOTTA be Dovid… If I’m wrong, correct me… towards the end of this piece, Donny goes up beautifully. “Ani Avdecho” – the usual places: David in melody, Dovid low harmony, Avi high harmony. Second time around, I think it’s Dovid with melody.

Part II…

The Four “nahnahnahnah”s again – Dovid, Avi, Donny, and David, ended by all four, with Donny doing high harmony. “Ono HaShem” David sings the melody, but he’s on a different key, or octave, or whatever you want to call it. “Oy, Ani Avdecho…” Donny in melody, Dovid in low harmony, and Avi in screaming high harmony. Second time around, it’s David in melody, with Donny doing the ‘delay’ piece. Dovid in low, Avi in high. Very complicated and beautiful piece. It just flows. “Pitachto Lemosero….” Donny (he used a ‘reish’!) – gorgeous.
“Ani Avdecho…” Avi outdoes himself in a melody piece which ends with a twist. I’m amazed how versatile this guy is. Donny comes flying right in, and soars up to an incredible, chilling high.
“Ani Avdecho….” Last piece is even more complicated – Avi comes in with a ‘delay’ twice, finishing his piece with a “whoa” and if I’m not mistaken,
Donny does the very high harmony (correct me on this!) while David keeps faithfully to his melody and Dovid enhances it with his low harmony.
Amazing stuff! Only a real musical genius could arrange something like this.
Ends of with “Pitachto!!!” silence….
“Lemosairooooooooooi!” and Avi flies off into never-never land. While my personal favorite is Nachamu , this is one of the best songs on the album. And it’s far nicer than the Ono HaShem on the Stark Sfirah. Did I do it justice? ;-)
Here we go with my favorite – Nachamu!

Just like Avi and Donny got to shine in Ono HaShem and V'Hoyu Limshiso with their shtick' as keyboard guy calls them, it's David Pearlman's turn to be at his best in this song. Donny also does an extremely amazing piece at the end. So, here goes…
Intro: Avi Katz sings the `nah nah nah' with some background noise,(I cant identify the voice). The second part of the intro is done, if I'm not mistaken, by David, with his own voice `rapping' in the background (to use a term I recently learned) "neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh". If it's not David, please correct me.

Vocals: "Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami," Avi has the melody, and it's so hauntingly beautiful, you want to cry.
Second time around, I believe Donny does the melody.
"Dabru Al Lev Yerushalayim." First time, I'm 99% sure it's Dovid doing melody, with Donny in harmony. Real nice. It ends with "ne nai nai nai nai." This time, I am almost certain it's David in melody. Donny in high harmony, Dovid in low harmony.
Part II…
"Nah ne na, nah ne nah," Avi Katz with melody, and he bursts into an octave higher, with the rapping going on in the background. Sooo professional.

Now this is my singular most favorite part in the entire CD…. David does an extremely soft, sweet and haunting "Nachamu, nachamu ami," which just melts you to pieces, and suddenly he bursts into an octave higher, "Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami, Yomar Elokeichem," in a very mournful sort of tune.

"Oooh, oooh," Dovid Nachman's turn to shine in three part harmony, and David finishes off this piece with "Yomar Elokechem."

"Dabru Al Lev Yerushalayim," very creative. There are so many voices and so much going on that I cant even identify who's who. Donny does the harmony, or is it the melody a few keys higher? David comes in with his `delays', as I call it. Second time around, Avi does the delayed harmonies.
"Dabru Al Lev" – oh my, it's Donny's turn to be amazing. He does some fancy vocal work here which I don't even know how to label properly – twists and turns up and down a few keys. Amazing feat.
"Neh nai nai nai," Donny does some gorgeous harmony, screeching up and down, and Avi also twists in and out with his digitally modified voice. The song ends in, "VeKiruv Eilehoaawwwwwww!!!!" flying off to heights unseen.
I am always depressed when this song ends because this means the CD is over. But then again, it also means that… the CD is starting again!!!! :-D

So chazak chazak to my career as a chevra analyst. I hereby accept any other challenges offered by other critics found in cyberspace...


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