Jewdyssee - 5773
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Panshot Records/Galileo

Jewdyssee are a band, and a cultural lifestyle unit, taking Yiddish music into the modern club. But wait – before you begin to think that you've heard this all before (think: Balkan Beat Box, or Oi Va Voi), Jewdysee put their own distinctive spin on Yiddish culture.

The lead singer, Maya Saban, is the anchor for Jewdyssee's particular meld of Jewish melodies and electronica. The first song, "Adon Olam," is the traditional sung prayer of God as "Master of the Universe." Here, though, the club beats are darker, sometimes treading into dubstep territory. While Jewdysee are absolutely seeking to revive Jewish song (and, given that the band is also based in Germany, there is a political side to all the partying), Jewdysee also throw a total curveball in its turn towards updating the past. On "Chiribim Chiribim," listeners are treated to something very different from the "Adon Olam" arrangement: a futuristic blend of Chasid folktale, dubbed out with a dash of Balkan horns, and a layering of Saban's voice that turns her into the Andrews Sisters. The effect is like listening to the radio in the 1940s, but where Yiddishkait has taken over wartime broadcasting from the 21st century. The Yiddish lullaby "Yankele" is here anything but, a deep stomping beat offset by a crazed cartoon of ‘big band' horns. The classic (here, highly electrified) "Bei Mir Bist Du Schejn" furthers these impressions, and later on 5773, Jewdysee audaciously include a high-octane, Yiddish version of Broadway's "Cabaret." It's the Weimar Republic upended. Jewdysee seem to be saying that all that they are putting on offer isn't, and is, your grandparents' entertainment.

Elsewhere, other global influences creep into the album: "Tumbalalaika" has a bit of a Turkish feel, and "Zol Zayn Mit Mazel" throws in accordion and fiddle, but comes up as a Yiddish-Latin cocktail. Saban also adds the slow burn on "Glik," as if you're in the last smoky nightclub at the end of the universe. Even "Havanagila" is refracted off of the stars, radio transmissions of old klezmer bands returning as a remix. Jewdysee's electronic odyssey is like that: a celebration of the diaspora, sampling the Jewish experience across time. - Lee Blackstone

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