Imagine waking up with a splitting headache (hangover or otherwise), and techno sounds seem to be emanating from everywhere. Either you enjoy the mind trip or you run over to the nearest bathroom in hopes of puking. Listening to Jewish Music Group’s new CD, “Forgiveness,” is a similar experience.
The CD would seem to have much to offer: producers Alon Cohen and Rea Mochiach have worked with popular artists Matisyahu and David Byrne, respectively. With “Forgiveness,” they aim to offer a new experimental musical twist on the familiar Yom Kippur prayers. In other words, you hear Kol Nidre chanted to the synthetic beats of electronic dance music. The beats are infectious, and if your Yom Kippur would be better served under the musical inspiration of techno, then this is worth the buy.
But in any other case, the result is a disastrous combination.
Songs range in length from one minute to 22 minutes long, with a different techno beat for each Yom Kippur classic (from Kol Nidre to Avinu Malkeinu). At first, you hear electronic beats and echoes of barely audible Hebrew chants — then ambient dance music fuses with Sephardic tunes of Yom Kippur prayers.
If you like the musical stylings of shrieks accompanied by a backdrop of electronic techno beats, perhaps this CD is for you. Track 11, “Neila,” is a particular favorite if you are in the mood for a headache.
This CD serves no other purpose besides adding a new level of suffering for the holiday. Though to be fair, the songs might prove more entertaining were the listener under the influence mind-altering drugs.
Though Alon Cohen (who produced Chassidic reggae star Matisyahu’s first CD) is the mastermind behind this new collection, take note — this is no original Jewish breakthrough interpretation of experimental music.
You have been forewarned: Do not expect a techno Matisyahu.
Anyone with a traditional background will marvel at this CD’s uselessness, but perhaps others might appreciate its uniqueness.
This is no doubt the most original treatment of Yom Kippur prayers — combining the Hebrew chants with electronic interpretations of melodies supposedly of Sephardic origin. But the Yom Kippur songs are barely recognizable after the first few seconds of listening to the synthetic beats.
Perhaps fans of experimental music will appreciate these original twists of Yom Kippur classics. It may even prove useful if you are intent on making Yom Kippur as unpleasant as possible, but I am somewhat doubtful of this CD inspiring new cantorial trends.