ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Yossi Sassi - 2014 - "Desert Butterflies"

(40:13, ‘Yossi Sassi’)


1.  Orient Sun 4:22
2.  Fata Morgana 4:34
3.  Neo Quest 4:26
4.  Azadi 3:10
5.  Believe 3:29
6.  Desert Butterfly 4:42
7.  Inner Oasis 4:44
8.  Shedding Soul 2:00
9.  Jason's Butterflies 1:24
10. Azul 3:25
11. Cocoon 3:57


Yossi Sassi – vocals; guitars, bouzouki, oud, saz; keyboards
Ben Azar – guitars 
Shay Ifrah – drums 
Or Lubianiker – bass 
Roei Fridman – percussion 
Itzhak Ventura – Arabic, Turkish and Persian ney
Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) – guitars 
Roy Zu-arets – piano, Hammond
Mariangela Demurtas – vocals 
Erez Lev Ari – vocals, guitars
Daniel Hoffman – violins
Ariel Qassis – kanun 
Shlomo Oz – sitar 
A few more musicians

Prolusion. Israeli composer and musician Yossi SASSI is probably best known for being a founding member of the Israeli progressive metal band Orphaned Land, but he's also a veteran contributor in the Israeli music circuit as a musician, composer and producer in his own right. In 2012 he started a solo career with the launch of the album "Melting Clocks". "Desert Butterflies" is his second solo production, and was released in 2014.

Analysis. As many other musicians, whose main instrument is the guitar, Sassi as a solo artist is a case of a musician showcasing a depth of musical understanding, and in this case this depth is explored in a somewhat novel manner. The main focus of this production does not appear to be to document versatility in terms of genre comprehension, nor does this album come across as an in-depth excursion into one specific style or a subset of such. Variation and versatility are key words, and as such this disc is closer to the former than the latter of these typical approaches taken by guitarists when going solo, but the aim here, as far as I can see it, is to incorporate the music of the old world with the music of the new one, and then mainly the old world traditions in and around Sassi's own home country of Israel at that. The compositions come in a few main categories. There's the elegant, instrumental rock excursions with careful, elegant guitar soloing, with excursions into metal-tinged territories on the one hand and jazz rock-flavors on the other. Then there are a token few instances of material that mainly stays put within more defined folk-oriented territories. In addition there's a few cases of regular songs with vocals, including final track Coccoon, which also stands out for being more of an Americana melancholic affair with few direct influences from folk music. Folk music in this context is Israeli folk music mainly, although there are instances here featuring scales, tones and harmonies with a possible origin from the surrounding areas in the Middle East too. These details are mainly added to the arrangements by way of plucked string instruments of various kinds, as standalone singular motifs, as well as in layered, rich lead motifs and more elaborate themes, with and without support from the regular rock band instrumentation. Sometimes as recurring sequences with a dominant expression, at other times in a more careful and supplemental manner. On an occasion or two some distinct and utterly dominant features of this kind gave me associations towards klezmer music, in other cases the associations were to much older musical traditions of the kind that was ancient also before electricity was invented and harnessed. As one would expect, the material has been perfectly assembled and given a quality mix and production, something one expects from a musician with the pedigree of Sassi. And while I generally found this album to be a charming one, I'll have to admit that on this occasion, one of the compositions with a stronger focus and emphasis on the folk music details (or possibly world music details) was the one that intrigued me most. Azadi is the name of this creation, a jubilant and positive piece of music with what to my ears comes across as exotic sounding and Middle East-oriented instrument and vocal details through and through.

Conclusion. With "Desert Butterflies" Yossi Sassi has created an intriguing album of music, where the focus appears to be to incorporate Israeli and Middle East folk music details with contemporary instrumental rock, with a few select excursions into more purebred folk-oriented compositions as a nice additional treat. Those who tend to get intrigued by what many people from a western cultural background would describe as exotic world music sounds paired off with contemporary instrumental rock are well advised to give this CD a spin.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 4, 2015
The Rating Room

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Yossi Sassi


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