Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MBD's Kisufim Review

Yes it has been a while since my last review. But MBD's last album is a great excuse to write again, and I went ahead and downloaded the album from Mostlymusic's website, the first time I used their service. By the way, their website is working well and the process of buying was easy although I would suggest a Facebook Connect option as I hate signing up for anything these days (disclaimer: I have no connection to Mostlymusic and I payed for the album from my pocket)

To the album: it is MBD's last album and I deep inside don't want to be harsh on him and I do hope it's a good one.

The first two songs, Shalom Aleichem and Menucha have a lot in common, for the good and for the bad. Both songs have a "folkish" sound, have pleasant but forgettable arrangements, have Zemiros lyrics and are not really melodical. I would not put these two songs back to back as he has done here but I believe it does sets the tone and it shows what MBD is aiming for - authenticity. They remind me very much of MBD's Kumzitz Album which had this same concept and was very succesfull. These two songs don't have the same impact because they are not hits and are rather forgetable but at least it was well produced and it did set a very specific mood from the start. ***

Al Kein is a sad slow song that has a weak first part but that gains momentum in the second part, which doesn't follow the traditional "low first part/ high second part" setting that we know so well. The arrangement and adult vocals are as good as the first two songs but those who know me know how much I dislike these child solos. I do like soft child solos like in 4:55 and onwards but the child solos before that were unnecessary and in my opinion are counterproductive, specially in a sad song like this one. ****

Shomrei is a great composition from Rav Kalish that has a great arrangements, both instrumental and vocal. Here I don't mind the children singing - it fits in the mood of this song - and this unpretentious song is reminiscent from the songs introduced by MBD in Efshar Letaken, like Gevald for instance. *****

Hazkiri is the second slow song of this album and although the first part is ok, the second is really weak. The song is well arranged but otherwise unnapetizing. Wondering what caught MBD's attention here. **

Tzemach tzemach is a simple, refreshing niggun that is perhaps one of the strongest pieces of this album. It's a kumzits song that was very well arranged and all vocals are well balanced and pleasent to listen. Not a hit but this song is about pure relaxation. ****

Anim zemiros is reportedly a song from the Rebbe but honestly never heard it before. It's a nice composition and i specially like how the words in the second part don't particurarily fit well in the bars - it makes the song unique and differrent. Nice ending too, with a sweet falsetto from MBD. *****

The Chabad niggun is nice and very "traditional" but we had that covered with the tzemach tzedek niggun. I think it's positive to have one niggun in an album but two is just too much Dragging the album to the boring side ***

Hashiveini has unnoriginal lyrics and the compositon is very weak, so MBD needed some magic to make this song fly. Mission not accomplished and this song is an unnecessary "filler" in MBD's farewell album *

Nichsefo is the typical Moshe laufer song - Midtempo, easy to sing and not particularily original. But it's fun and interestingly, not arranged by laufer. I guess they wanted to maintain the folk feel that we have throughout the album, something laufer would probably not do if he were to be the arranger. ***

Kisufim is a yiddish song composed by mbd himself with Lipa lyrics. The tune is actually ok but it has no climax, leaving us with the feeling that something is missing. I guess it's more about the words....***

Simchas toireh - see Chabad niggun comment above. By now it's pretty clear MBD is going to a strange direction here. Nothing wrong with the niggun but it's just flatly boring and not only this adds nothing to the album, it actually takes a lot away from it. And the arrangement here is below the quality of the rest of the album. *

Ani maamin. Worst possible choice of lyrics, unnecessary child soloist and nothing new.
Yibone. Actually a great classic i did not mind to hear again. But what's the point of squeezing two distinct songs in one track?

Impecably arranged by M. Hershkovitz, Ashreini is another song composed by MBD and it features among the best in the album. I wish we would have more of those.

Bottom line, do I like this album? I prefer to put it like this - I don't dislike it. The arrangements are simple and groovy, with a common theme: strings, more strings and a great choir. As a result, Kisufim does have a very unique sound but the problem is not the production. I think MBD played too safe and tried to say goodbye with a Kumzits album that is not as good as the Kumzits album. The album lacks innovation and courage, two things that that every album should have and that could have made this album a masterpiece. That's why I didn't like this album too much.
 Efshar letaken was much better.

With that said, my big kudos for MBD for giving us so many great moments throughout his remarkable Jewish music career.

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EliteWritings said...

I love this band!!Their songs are awesome....I especially like theit light songs like Shomray song. The vocal I've heard there just upbraid me for a while!