Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Lev Tahor 2

Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music.com

Reviewer: Mindy

Lev Tahor. Aaaaaah. Words will not do justice to this CD… but I’ll give it my best shot.

Since I received this CD free, I promised myself that I would not be biased and I would not do a souped-up article. However, when it comes to it, I just can’t help myself. This album really wowed me. I’ve heard plenty of boy bands this year, and Lev Tahor II is the best of all that I heard. There are a number of attractive factors that make this CD unique above the others.

The keyword to describe this CD is: originality. It’s not a hodgepodge of songs bought from a bunch of different composers and sung by a single voice or a duo, stam abee gezunt. The songs are composed by Gadi Fuchs (with 2-3 songs composed by others) and he and Eli applied their musical genius to produce nothing short of a true masterpiece. While some of the tracks are typical, on a whole this is a very different album. It pushes the envelope in effort to be unique, enough to be very atypical but yet not go over the edge. It’s daring enough yet sufficiently yeshivish. They achieved the ‘rock-techno’ sound that I so love, while using live instruments – it’s real and not fake. The compositions and voices are Shalsheles/Dveykus’like, yet very original. The music is extremely original; I’ve never heard this kind of music on a JM CD. Totally not the type you will find on the regular Dachs/Williger/Shwekey/Stark/You-name-it album. It’s very modern and up to date, yet contemporary. There is no ‘back-up choir’ – instead, individual vocal tracks were recorded and then combined to produce an amazing choir-like sound. The harmonies, too, are very unique and different. Here’s finally a tape with no Mi Adir’s, Mehairo’s, Modeh Ani’s, and Shma Bni’s… even the lyric selections are somewhat original.

What appeals to me most is that Lev Tahor is not a money-making group. They don’t really do concerts, weddings, or other bookings. They were not out to cash in on their name. Lev Tahor produced this cd purely as a hobby. Therefore they were able to put their heart and soul into the production, without looking to cut costs or try to appeal to a certain crowd or group. They did it because it was fun and they loved it. The end result is a truly awesome product.

It also gave the opportunity for three amazing voices to really show their full potential. Eli has one of the best voices I ever heard, and an awesome range. Ari does beautiful melody – all softness and sweetness.

The CD insert is a real work of art. You have to see it to understand it. Each track is on its own page, with a different color and graphics depicting the possuk that it portrays.

So, if you’re bored by the typical JM and crave something which is quite different yet in the realm of soulful and inspirational Jewish Music, you’ve finally found the group that has it all.

With all that out of the way, down to the nitty gritty business of analyzing each song.

The vocals are really good. Here is the key to knowing who sings what, to those of you who like ‘knowing’ whom you’re listening to, keep this in mind: Ari Cukier starts all of the songs except (5) Watch Over Me, and (10) Horachamon. He has the soft sweet voice, a lá Dovid Nachman, only more powerful. Eli Schwebel has the higher, Avi Katz-like voice, the rich, deep one that he takes from his Dad, the well-known Rivie Schwebel of Dveykus. Gadi Fuchs has the rougher, alto voice. Motty Jacobowitz only does a couple of solos instead of being a full time participant in this effort.

Songs composed by Gadi Fuchs. I wonder if he’ll be recognized as a talented composer by the JM industry; he did a great job on this CD.

1: Asher Bara. 9/10

The picture on the insert: Two glasses being clinked together in L’chaim. Red background.

Yes, it’s an Asher Bara, but none like you’ve heard before… very interesting and different. It’s fast and lively. The way it’s done is totally original. I like the way it starts with “Asher Bara Sosson V’Simcha, Mazel Tov Choson Kallah”.

I did notice a music similarity; the intro starts out sounding very much like Dov Hoffman’s “Shabbos Shabbos Kodesh” – if you know the song. Ari starts off the song doing the first low, Gadi takes over the low, and Ari does the first high. Gadi does the second low part. Ari does most melody and Eli a lot of really great harmony. The musical interludes are amazing.

Towards the end there is a very cool shtick, which I’ve never heard before: They sing the the words “Asher Bara” in the traditional “Od Yishoma” tune. It’s really cool!

This song was debuted at Gadi’s sister’s wedding (I think), a year ago.

I give this song a 9. It’s my third favorite fast song on the album.

2: Refoainu. 9/10

Picture on the insert: EKG screen with blips and dips. Green background.

This song is the favorite slow song of many of the groupies that I’ve polled. Personally it’s only my 2nd favorite slow song.

It’s started off by Avi again doing the low part, and Eli comes in with a beautiful high. I am amazed by his rich voice. I think Gadi does the second low.

Usually slow songs put me to sleep. Not this one. It’s thought provoking and sung with a lot of heart and feeling, and the music is very original. It has a couple of really shticky innovations that I’ve never heard before in a slow JM song. For instance, the person doing melody sings, “Refoainu HaShem” and the ‘choir’ responds with “HaShem!” same for the rest of the possuk, it’s always ‘overdubbed’ by a group coming in with the last word of the set. It’s really good. You have to hear this to understand what I mean.

The end is very interesting. Eli does the high part a couple of keys above and does a harmony in which he goes up a couple of keys, or octave or whatever you call it. The music is also very unique here. I can’t describe it. It’s not the kind of music you hear on typical JM albums, but done well enough not to go over the limit. This song is a masterpiece. I rate it a 9.

3: Lev Tahor: 10/10

The picture is really cute: a wide blue rippling body of water with a liquid heart falling into it. Royal Blue background

I love the idea that there is a “title track” for the group name. This is my second favorite fast song on the CD. You gotta love it. It’s rocky and beaty and will make you get up and dance.

It starts off with a little a capella piece replete with harmonies, then the great music kicks in.

Once again Ari starts off the song, and there are super harmonies the second time around.

Instead of the typical “Al Tashlicheini Milfonecho”, they skipped a few psukim and put the second possuk as “Hashem sfosai tifoch Ufi Yagid T’hilosecho”. Extremely professionally done song. Music is excellent.

Second part, I think Gadi does the low with Ari harmony.

The song ends in a very original way… after they finish “Ufi Yagid Tehilosecho,” the crew ends it with: LEV TAHOR!

It’s a really good fast song and it’s very shticky, too. I like it! It gets a full 10.

4. Im Eshkochech. 8/10

Picture on inset: the Kosel. Purple background.

This song was composed by R’ Mordechai Twerski. It falls under the more typical slow category. It's still very well done though. It’s very heartzig. Ari and Gadi alternate with the melody, and Ari and Eli do a lot of harmony too. There’s a guest soloist here too; Shabse Fuchs, Gadi’s brother.

This song has already been sung at some weddings, to great reviews. I give it an 8.

5. Watch Over Me 7/10

Picture on the insert: The World Trade Center

This is one interesting track. I have the most questions about this song… But let me try to explain it as best as possible. Supposedly it’s a song about a boy, an orphan from his mother, asking his father in the year 2014 what happened in the WTC. It ends up being that the father explains to the child that the Ribono Shel Olam is watching over all the people who died in the tragedy. The premise and moral of the song is very nice, but I have a million questions. First of all I’m not sure if the boy’s mother died on Sept. 11 or through something else. And the idea of predicting what will happen in 2014 strikes me a bit funny, since Moshiach will IYH long be here. But the song itself is, as the rest of the CD, completely original. You have to hear it to understand what I mean. It is NOT the kind of English song you find on a Journeys or even Destiny. It’s sung completely by Eli Schwebel and he does a super job. Aside from the last line, “HaShem Yishmor Nafshi,” this song would fit perfectly onto a radio station, and I think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for someone to send this to an FM station to see if it gets airtime, as was suggested for the English song on Pardes. It’s a great song on the September 11 theme with an Emunah twist to it.

This one gets a 7.

6: Mah Yonah. 11/10

Pic on insert: Dove flying. Red Background.

AAAHHH. Mah Yona.h My absolute favorite track on this CD. Not only is the tune original, so are the words: “Mah Yonah Ainoh Nitzoles Elo Bechnofeyho, Af Yisroel Ain Nitzolen Elo B’Mitzvos.” Translation: Just as a dove is saved through its wings, so too Klal Yisroel is only saved through doing mitzvos.”

The tune is extremely catchy, and the music superb. It’s Ari and Eli at their best (I’m sure Gadi is in there too, doing low harmony or ‘choir melody’, but I havne’t quite mastered his voice yet). Motty Jacobowitz does a guest solo second low. It also starts out with a short a capella piece. I love turning the cd player up to maximum volume for this track. It makes me want to just get up and start dancing. I love it, I love it, I love it. I don’t have enough words to properly describe it. My totally favorite song on the album; I’m trying to get Nachum Segal to play it. The music on this is unbelievable. I think this is the most original tune I ever heard. It doesn’t remind me of any song I ever heard; pure originality, with great music. There are cute shticks thrown in there, to which you have to listen to fully appreciate.

I rate it an 11…

7: Aneini 10/10

Picture in insert: Old Chossid in tallis, davening. Black background

This is my favorite slow song on the album. There’s no real intro; the song starts right away. Once again Ari starts off the song and then Eli takes over (I think). They copy the Refoainu format by the “Aneini HaShem” – HASHEM. The tune is very moving. I found myself thinking about this song during Yom Kippur a lot. Eli does a really beautiful job on the high parts of this song. The harmonies are beautiful and the music is very good. I think that Gadi does the later low parts (unless it’s a guest soloist). Eli goes up very high towards the end, and does some super harmonies. I really like this song a lot. As I said, it’s my favorite slow song. Towards the very end they move up a couple of chords (or is that keys? I don’t know my musical terms). It’s really beautiful. The song ends off by softly fading into the background.

This gets full marks: 10.

8: Modim. 9/10

Picture on insert: open siddur. Violet background.

Composed by Shloimy Weiss

This is my fourth favorite fast song. Ari basically most of the melody of the song. It’s a very smooth and flowing song. It just moves. The words start with “Nodeh L’cho” and ends with “Kivinu Loch”. Second time around, a couple of keys higher, Gadi does the low and Ari takes over for the high again. I really like this one. It also has a very cool ending.

I rate it a 9.

9: Acheinu 9/10

Picture of: Israeli flag (Gasp, Mindy!) Light blue background

Composed by Dovid Scharf

Beautiful tune. Motty Jacobowitz has a couple of solos on this one, and he has a great voice. Really nice moving tune, reflecting the words. There’s some really nice a capella too. Falls into the more typical category, but I love it nevertheless.

Rate it a 9.

10: Horachamon. 8/10

Very interesting tune. I think this falls under the ‘swing’ category that Gedaliah so likes. I’m sure there’s some way to categorize this song, but I don’t know the terminology, so I think it’s ‘swing’. Very interesting tune; not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill song, not what you’d find on a typical JM tape. It’s pretty hip. Gadi starts it off. Eli does some really nice one-octave-higher work.

Rate it an 8.

This album, overall, rates an 82/100…. Pretty good! It’s the best album I’ve heard in a long while, and it’s what a boy band should really sound like. I give it a total thumbs up… this is a must-get; you’ve never heard something like this before.

It’s amazing to note that of all the people who bought it, no one had a word of criticism. EVERYONE was blown away. It’s rare that you find an album that everyone loves right away; I was awestruck from the first listening; I didn’t need a second or third round to love it, the way I need with other albums.

Okay, enough darshening… I love this album, you’ll love it too… and no, I wasn’t paid to write all of this…

Comments on this review can be left below.


Blogger Jeremy said...

About that first track...
If you like it and want to hear where it originally came from, check out the original song here.
It was released on a Scorpions album in 2000 which can be viewed (and previewed) here.
Lev Tahor 2 was released in 2002, as can be seen here.
I don't like to spoil your fun. I just think that the truth ought to be known.
Sorry Mindy O:-)
It's like Yidden all over again!

August 26, 2004 at 8:56 PM  
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October 27, 2005 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Roch said...

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Loved it as a youngster and still love it now. The harmonies are simply beautiful and perfectly choreographed. None of you new-age, 'Jewish' rock lovers will go for this, though. It's real music, done right with none of the technical-computerized jazz.

September 23, 2013 at 8:50 PM  

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