FAME Review: Koby Israelite - Blues from Elsewhere
Koby Israelite - Blues from Elsewhere

Blues from Elsewhere

Koby Israelite

Asphalt Tango Records - CD-ATR-3513

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Koby Israelite is one of those unreal-good musicians impossible to pin down, so eclectic is his range, so riveting his acumen, and so genre-bending his wont, an eclectician from the word 'Go!' but bedded down in mid-Eastern modes with a vivacity that illuminates everything he touches. Blues from Elsewhere is not really blues, though I'm not gonna argue with the guy if he wants to insist: I never try to outdo anyone who can play accordion, drums, percussive oddments, guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, clarinet, various saxes, piano, other keyboards, flute, and sing. I'd be an idiot to try on any level, as there's such an open-ended array of ethnomusicological delights here that to try to pin the CD down to one mode would be ridiculous.

As someone who's loved klezmer for many years, I was entranced by Israelite's intensely authenticke moderne incorporations, often giddy, grinning, and even hilarious (there's a hell of a lot of humor all through Elsewhere) but with all of it standing chockablock in redneck country, champagne polka, TV thematics, cartoon rambunctiousness, and Lord only knows what else, too much to catalogue. The disc, taking from Gong's pixies, is kinda like a delightfully mental Univers Zero that decided to keep their prog as complicated as ever but move it into a whole new zone, jettisoning the world-wasting metal apocalyptica for exotic milieux. The first cut starts to acclimate the listener right off the bat, and there are some other musicians here—such as the Hot Club-ish vocals of Annique on Why Don't You Take My Brain and Sell It to the Night, then her shake-em-up rockin' on Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues (not to mention Koby's crashing slide work), later succeeded by the absolutely spectacular Sephardic singing of Mor Kabasi—but Israelite plays almost everything you hear in each cut, and the tracks can get dense as zippy, cavorting, blazing, perambulating layers that nonetheless also dance lightly in exhilarating spirits.

Vic Mizzy and Raymond Scott woulda loved a good deal of this, 'cause the contrarily fetally glowering individual in the studio photograph has more than a little of Spike Jones in him, unafraid to twist anything at all to his desires, which tend to be both mirthful and drop-dead reverential in multiplex ways. Every song here drips with chops that are dazzling, finessey, and antic. Still, start with Lemi Evke because Kabasi is just plain astounding, and Israelite's, and others', backing work displays immense sensitivities around her. If this cut doesn't reach right into your heart and take your head off simultaneously, then you might as well just walk away, 'cause you're not going to understand much of the remainder either. The rest of us, though? Well, how many ways can you spell b-l-i-s-s?

Track List:

  • Johnny Has No Cash No More
  • Why Don't You Take My Brain and Sell It to the Night (Israelite / Annique)
  • Blues from Elsewhere (Suite Part 1)
  • Accordion Is the New Guitar (Suite Part 2)
  • The Dreams Thief (Suite Part 3)
  • Crayfish Hora (Suite Part 4)
  • Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan)
  • East of Nashville
  • Bulgarian Boogie
  • Rural Ghost
  • My Way the Right Way
  • Lemi Evke (Karbasi / Israelite)
  • Peckham Rai
  • Two Colonels
  • Just Cliches
  • Kashmir (Bonham / Page / Plant)
All songs written by Koby Isrealite except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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