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(54:50, Yossi Sassi)
TRACK LIST: 1. Wings 4:57 2. Palm Dance 4:51 3. Root Out 6:13 4. Mr. Nosoul 2:15 5. Madame Twosouls 4:02 6. The Religion of Music 4:52 7. Winter 8:20 8. Thundercloud 2:23 9. Road Less Traveled 5:36 10. Rizes Kai Dromoi 3:52 11. Bird Without a Tree 3:55 12. Stronger Than Ever 3:34 LINEUP: Yossi Sassi vocals; gtrs, bouzouki, charango, oud, saz; keybds Or Lubianiker bass Shay Ifrah drums Ben Azar guitars Sapir Fox vocals Roei Fridman percussion With: Danielle Sassi flute Harel Shachal clarinet Bob Katsionis - keyboards Zaher Zorgati vocals Diana Golbi vocals Ron Thal guitars Ariel Qassis kanun Daniel Hoffman violins Itzhak Ventura Arabic, Turkish and Persian Ney &: A few additional musicians and singers
Prolusion. Israeli composer and musician Yossi SASSI is probably best known for being a founding member of 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". Two more albums have followed since. "Roots and Roads" is the most recent of these, and was self-released in 2016 under the moniker Yossi Sassi Band.
Analysis. That Yossi Sassi has a background from a progressive metal band is something that shines through quickly enough on his latest solo album as well. It is not, however, a purebred progressive metal album as such, but rather one that combines material of a progressive rock as well as a progressive metal orientation, with quite a few songs on the borders between those styles somewhere. Not that I imagine that any of those styles are all that important for Sassi and his numerous collaborators on this production, as my impression is that this album is more about blending musical traditions and not so much about what niche audience that ultimately will find the CD to be an appealing one. Whether rocking out, taking on the metal mantle or exploring the more delicate waters of the ballad or hitting the occasional, one-off creation that dips ever so slightly into jazz realms, the recurring element throughout this album is the use of what one might describe as world music instruments, tones and timbres. Some Israeli folk music is most likely present, perhaps even a trace of klezmer at times, but arguably even more are tones and scales that, to my ears, have more of a generic Middle East like sound to them, some with a touch of the folk music of the Mediterranean area as well, but first and foremost I get Middle East traditional folk music vibes throughout, in interludes dominated by this dimension, in careful supporting textures of various kinds, transitional phases as well as more distant, underlying subtle details. Complementing, supplementing and at times contrasting with dark toned, heavy guitar riffs or more firm, elegant and flowing riff cascades, in harmony with acoustic guitar and calmer, rock-based rather than metal-based riffs and generally being a presence throughout. Not a constant one, even if that is also often the case, but at minimum as a recurring one that has a role to play in most songs and a strong one in the greater majority. The album as a whole comes across as an accomplished one, the tones and timbres a Scandinavian, like I myself, will generally describe as exotic running like a red thread throughout this production, tying it all into a greater whole even if the material in sum may be described as being of a somewhat eclectic nature. One small negative for me is that the vocals tend to be placed a bit too deep into the mix. While I assume this is a deliberate choice, I still like hearing the lead vocals a bit more up front and personal even if being a part of such well developed and detailed arrangements as they are in this case.
Conclusion. With "Roots and Roads" Yossi Sassi Band has created an intriguing album of music where the focus appears to be to continue his path of incorporating Israeli and Middle East folk music details with contemporary rock and metal, sometimes progressive and sometimes not as much. Those who tend to get intrigued by what people from a western cultural background would describe as exotic world music used to expand the borders of contemporary rock and metal, progressive or otherwise, should take note of this CD, as well as Sassi's previous excursions as a solo artist.
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