Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Introducing...Kol Ish!

Kol Ish is a “college acapella” group from University of Maryland and they’ve just released their debut album. I love acapella and since nonw of the acapella groups out there have a true “college acapella” style, I was looking forward for this album and decided to review it.

The group's name, Kol Ish is apparently a play with Kol Isha, and they probably mean that this is as good as Kol Isha. Or something like that. That would be similar to AKAPella's marketing campaign - "so good it should be ossur".
Overall the production is really simple, and the cover art reflects that too. But I actually liked the retro design of the actual CD. Let's go to the real stuff:

Mi Adir is apparently an “adaptation” from a Coldplay song (can’t pinpoint) and right from the start you will see how well Kol Ish’s voices mesh together. Very smooth and pleasant, I prefer this kind of opening song for an Acapella album rather than a computer-generated song (AKAPella did that in their albums). The song however doesn’t builds up and remains in the same gear throughout the 4 mins – I would expect a little more improvisation. Also, the lyrics were not spelled so well in 0:30 and 0:42 – instead of Mi Adir AL Hakol, it sounds like they only said Mi Adir Hakol (no AL). ***

From the very first time I heard this CD, Haazinu stood up from all other songs. It’s exactly what I like in an Acapella setting – originality, good vocal arrangements and great vocals. The tune is very catchy and unique – you don’t have the traditional high part and low part scheme but three parts that are very different from each other. The middle part is a “niggun” that is used as a bridge – a nice idea that is also used in a later song in this album (Va’alu). The lyrics are also original, from Parshas Haazinu and this song does builds up quite well. *****

Kah Ribon is a song I love, originally featured in Ari Goldwag’s debut album. It’s a fun song to sing for acapella – great tune and easy harmonies – so this was a clever choice of song. I would've used auto-tune in the beginning of the song, but overall the vocals are good in this song. The dissonant chord in the end is cool, I’m guessing they took this idea from Mike Boxer who did the same in Bilvovi, featured in his last album. ****

Who has the patience for Meheira? It’s an old hit, it was oversung everywhere and therefore this song was a poor choice. Kol Ish didn’t do anything new or original here, so this song has no appeal for me. **

Adon Olam is a new song and it’s not bad, but not good either - something in between. Not much to be said here, this is an old-style Acapella. ***

Vehoair is one of my all-time favorites from Yehuda! and another great song for Acapella. The harmonies in 1:54 are fantastic and although this is very much like the original version, there’s a lot to like here. ***

Great piece of typical Acapella harmonies in the opening of Hodo – Kol Ish is clearly aiming for that traditional “College Acapella” style we all know. But this song is much better than the other fast song, Adon Olam, and there’s a lot of cool shticks in this one. The song is kind of weird, but it’s a perfect song to cheer this album a bit. ***

Va’alu is quite boring and not really exciting. **

The vocal in Gam Ki Elech are spotless and Kol Ish’s vibe is certainly in these mellow songs. ****

Yehi – great closing song but the digital effects are a disaster- waaaay to much distortion and too unprofessional, and it basically ruined this great song. If done right, this song could’ve been the best of the album. **

Conclusion: Kol Ish has a lot of potential, that’s very clear. The production is the simplest possible and with a better musical team Kol Ish could’ve have produced a masterpiece – their original songs are very good and they form a very solid acapella group. It’s a very decent debut album but they have a lot of home-work to do – better production next time.

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