Karen Alkalay-Gut

Thin Lips

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This curious album of cynical poetry and avant-rock music deserves to be heard outside of its native Israel. Roy Yarkoni and Ishay Sommer, responsible for the musical portion of the project, are respectively keyboardist and bassist in the instrumental avant-prog group Ahvak, whose debut album was released by the American label Cuneiform. But their association with poet Karen Alkalay-Gut is very different, although fans of highly complex progressive rock will find here a slightly similar kind of complexity. Comparisons are difficult to come by and partial at best, but one detects the mood of Anne Clarke's '80s records (minus the anger and punkish poise), the schizophrenia found in Non Credo, and the delightful facetiousness of naïve electro-pop, in particular Felix Kubin and Helgoland -- the latter especially in the title track, dominated by cheesy keyboard melodies that are bound to put a smile on your face. Yarkoni, who composed and arranged all of the music, relies heavily on samples and loops to provide rhythm and all kinds of contrasting textures and sound snippets. Thus the music oscillates between a very warped kind of lounge techno, circus-like sound collage and episodes of contemporary/avant music. Alkalay-Gut's lyrics are delivered matter-of-factly, in a con versional tone but with much attention payed to pronunciation. Effects occasionally highlight a few lines, putting emphasis on the weight of her words -- and weighty words they are, from deep reflections on relationships to bitter comments on the powers that be. Cumbersome and confusing on first listen, Thin Lips eventually finds its own way of making sense, imposing itself as a true work of art.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:02
2 3:03
3 5:02
4 3:52
5 3:13
6 3:19
7 2:35
8 4:05
10 1:20
11 3:25
12 3:15
13 3:46
14 1:32
15 2:37
blue highlight denotes track pick