This is World and New Age music from a guy who not only knows where it came from but lived in the places generating the styles. The dominance of origins and sentiment is Hebrew, and Mendilow lived in Israel, among many locations, though his own compositions aren't klezmer and neither are the tunes he borrows. Rather, they're older, earthier, simpler, and rooted in unusually pithy philosophies. Gesher Tsar Med, for instance, expresses the normally Eastern idea that "the entire world is nothing but a narrow bridge and the important thing is to cross without fear", while La Avot Sheli" expresses the existentialist notion that "we are what we are, for better or worse, because of those who raised us, who were what they were because of those who raised them". One doesn't normally find this kind of mentation in the sonorous arts or Western thinking.
The music, however, demonstrates how the elder Hebrew mode has much in common with the whole region's folkisms, indeed with many many cultures. In proof, Mendilow sometimes wordlessly encants in a throat-singing style neither Tuvan nor Tibetan but linked into what's referred to as Western Overtone Singing. Whatever the sobriquet, it's fascinating and attains to an almost shockingly otherworldly tone, like a human being hooked up to a syntheziser and "played" through an alto bullroarer; highly impressive and the sort of thing David Hykes acolytes will find striking. Another of Mendilow's unusual features is the creation of an evolved form of berimbau, modified for improved amplification and alternate tuning, among other changes.
The gent's music comes from a true folk spirit. He's lived around the world because he possesses a love for, and sympathy with, the salt of the earth, writing experientially of paramilitary actions in Chiappas while fighting such injustices as Zionism, trying to mend fences between Israeli and Palestinian youth. His music, then, is more soulful than kinetic, intended to pacify and induce thought. Indeed, cuts like Zemer Ahava La Yam are predominantly somnolent nor is any segment of his repertoire particularly propulsive save through the listener's corresponding affection for ideas and ahimsic vibrations. Mendilow's won awards for his music, but you're not going to get up and dance to it, perhaps only swaying gently in your Birkenstocks, flashing a peace sign, yearning for Elysium and love-ins. Not a bad thing when you think about it. We could use a hell of a lot lot more of that—though I probably won't be in the crowd.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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