Bassist Fima Ephron (Hasidic New Wave) jumps to the fore to offer his own version of radical Jewish culture music, and we have to stress "version" here. This set slams with killer Klez scalar investigation, wooly rock and prog riffs, shimmering jazz glissandos, and various worldbeat-isms, all wrapped up tight as a dancer on opening night. There aren't any speculative or lazy musical nomenclatures; there are no hidden agendas or sloppy integrations here, everything from the compositions to the choice of musicians -- including drummer Jim Black, guitarist Adam Rogers, Eddie Simon on keys, David Torn on oud, and others -- is woven together to create a dynamic backdrop that explores the limits of Jewish music and where the lines bleed to black and the rest of the world comes in and is informed by it. Indeed, oftentimes the feeling is more like listening to In a Silent Way or Miles Runs the Voodoo Down done klez style. There's the Miles Davis insistence on digging the maximal emotional content out of a series of riffs or vamps and discarding typical melodic changes or even modal changes in favor of a less-fixed solution to the musical interaction. But there are tough melodies, too, such as on "Hasidic Folk Song" and "Yashkar," where two types of Eastern scale intersect in the middle of an open rhythmic figure to create havoc on the improvisers. This is a movement-oriented record, this is not an avant-garde record. It uses prog rock and fusion to extend its inspiration and it does so with great taste, precision, and even humor. Soul Machine is highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek