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The True Story Concerning Martin Behaim

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One can always count on the French quartet Zakarya to come up with something out of the ordinary on their recordings. If you have followed this exceptional and unclassifiable group of musicians since its Tzadik debut in 2001, you already know that expectations when it comes to Zakarya are futile. Placed in the label's Radical Jewish Culture series, The True Story Concerning Martin Behaim is an imaginary soundtrack — music written for a film that doesn't exist. It takes as its subject the converso astronomer, navigator, and cosmographer who is reported to be the very first person — before Magellan — to view (philosophically) and draw a map of the world as a sphere. Musically, it's difficult to say what one has to do with another, but it doesn't matter a whit. This meld of Jewish folk music from antiquity to the present with shifting rhythmic pulses — from Latin to rock, improvisational jazz, tautly composed new music strategies, and heavy metal guitars — is dizzying, utterly sophisticated, and challenging, yet full of heart. The group's accordionist, Yves Weyh, who fronts a conventional rock trio — guitarist Alexandre Wimmer, bassist Vincent Posty, and drummer Pascal Gully — composed ten of these 12 cuts; Posty and Wimmer composed one each. A typical example of Zakarya's genius lies in "Nakete Shtetl," where an accordion and bass pulse set the rather restrained frame of harmonic focus. As such, Gully's drums and percussion flutter around that rhythmic intention improvisationally and sparely. The melody enters via Wimmer's electric guitar. He uses flurries of arpeggios along an Eastern motif lyric frame that is not unlike Yiddish market music. As the accordion moves toward lower registers while keeping the same rhythm, Gully plays on contrapuntal accents and Wimmer pushes his own lines to the breaking point and starts harmonically deconstructing them, while building a new dynamic architecture. Where it ends up is, in some ways, the very place it began, but light years away. Elsewhere, rock pyrotechnics are channeled toward unknown quantities of improvisation, as on "Lafko." For all its technical acumen and adventurous composition, this ultimately exhilarating ride still contains humor, warmth, and enough reckless outsider musical vision to take the Radical Jewish Culture firebrand on Tzadik to a new level.

Biographie

Genre : Musiques du monde

Années d’activité : '00s

Based in Paris, Zakarya were founded in 1999 by visionary accordionist Yves Weyh and feature Alexandre Wimmer on guitar, Vincent Posty on bass, and drummer Pascal Gully. Musically exploring aspects of Jewish history, humor, rhythms, scales, and sensibilities, Zakarya blend folk motifs with rock energy, klezmer abandon, and a general urge to break boundaries. The group signed with John Zorn's Tzadik Records in 2000, releasing Zakarya on the label a year later in 2001, following...
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The True Story Concerning Martin Behaim, Zakarya
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