Solomon & Socalled

Hiphop Khasene

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The khasene is the Jewish wedding ceremony, which has remained largely unchanged for centuries -- at least until Solomon & Socalled decided it was time to bring it into the 21st century. Lauded violinist Sophie Solomon, of British klezmer band Oi-Va-Voi, teams with Canadian DJ Socalled (who's more producer than DJ in the turntable sense) for this. It takes a few plays to make sense of the project -- on first listening it's a mishmash of sounds, samples, beats, and ideas, ranging from achingly lyrical to downright hilarious. There's rabbinical singing, rapping in Yiddish and English (from Michael Alpert), along with some superb instrumentals, especially the wild "Freylekhs Far De Kale" and "Freylekhs Fun Der Kupe" (where the refrain "pelt you with rice" signals the end of the ceremony, after the crushing of the glass). It's not a smooth record, but that's not the intention; it's fun, and the false starts and strange beats (as in "7 Blessings") only add to the intimacy of the occasion. Clarinetist David Krakauer is a vital part of the ensemble, and a perfect foil for Solomon's emotive playing, while Frank London adds some brass here and there. It's all capped by three remixes -- none of which really add much luster to the original tracks. "The First Time," Smadj's contribution, might work well on the dancefloor, but as a listening experience it's overlong and lacking in invention, and the other two seem gratuitous. That aside, the album itself is a definite winner.

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