Yair Yona

World Behind Curtains

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An Israeli proponent of John Fahey's American Primitive school of guitar playing, Yair Yona proves on his second album -- World Behind Curtains -- that he is no mere acolyte. Over eight tracks, Yona's second album seems to effortlessly sidestep comparisons to Fahey or any other of Yona's American (or British) influences, acoustic or electric. Though Yona's acoustic guitar remains unquestionably at the center of the pieces, it is not always the focus, which has more to do with creating larger moods. On "Expatriates," a muted electronic drone whistles in like the wind while Yona's fingerpicked clusters dance in small circles. "Mad About You," meanwhile, is an almost literal pop instrumental with strings that might be schmaltzy were it not for the conviction of Yona's acoustic rhythm playing behind them, not to mention short bursts of free jazz saxophone. On each song, his acoustic patterns are augmented fully and lushly. "Poetry Nights in Valhalla" finds mountain bells clanging between patterns. The dreamlike "Kottke and the Orchids" has strings appearing translucently behind Yona's forcefully hypnotic changes, creating a cinematic crest. There is almost nothing primitive about Yona's playing, the distant connection to American folk music severed (or at least dimmed considerably) in the generational transfer to a young guitarist from Israel. Yona is a new kind of player, perhaps best symbolized by the sublime handoff of the melody from a guitar to a piano on the disc-closing "Bella," a conclusion drawn by musical intelligence and logic that operates far beyond the bounds of a fretboard.

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