Monday, May 23, 2011

Dropping In Between Chapters and a Lost (and Timely) Sonic Gem.

Been a busy week, revisions almost completed on my first--for now--and moving on to novel number two soon, with a break for a short story or two and some poetry. So, thought I would take a break here and say, Hello, How Are You? and skim through the backlog of reviews and find…

Meira Asher.


She’s a revolutionary of sorts--that word’s come up a lot lately for me via my girlfriend‘s poetic inclinations and interests, which dig deep into what it means to be a caring human being on this planet; a planet in need of changes. Asher calls herself an “interdisciplinary societal artist.” Her career seems intent on bringing to light some of the world’s current atrocities as channeled through her music and presentation, for the sake of getting reactions and opening eyes. She’s got real character and depth and knows what she’s doing.

The review below is for her CD, Spears Into Hooks, released in 1999, but with the subject matter, as you will see below, it’s as pertinent now as before.

Spears Into Hooks (Crammed Discs)

:Shrapnel-laced genre warping assault with powerful female vocals:

On the cover of this CD there is a picture of a shaven-headed woman with a hard, tight-lipped mouth and a tense fragility in her shoulders; she also has the burning eyes of one who has seen too much, a look that says “I will tell you truths you cannot imagine.” Opening with a burst of static, squealing feedback spewing corrosive, caustic, marching percussion and gunpowder larynx interjections, “Shahid 1” pretty much jostles one’s attention. This disc has more honest fury and volatile rage than almost anything I can think of; even when it is not in your face, it has a percolating ambience and fist-clenching sincerity that belies the calmer moments. The music is a hybrid of industrial and noise (see above), often with an almost traditional, Israeli compass (“Tiring Night”), as well as the occasional, strangely brooding, antiquated, synthesizer excursion (“Weekend Away Break”), and even more (there is much variety, not adhering to any specific genre). But what really throws the whole thing into overdrive is Meira’s knife scrapping rust off the hide of humanity vocals, digging into the wound and prying out the bullet, no anesthetics used, just grit and pain via a little distinct enunciation and war-torn inflection; it is powerful and emotional, encapsulating the late 90’s world chaos. At times the vocals have a harsh, Diamanda Galas edge, but not of the octave scouring fashion she incorporates. Meira’s got a flexibility, a malleability, a chameleon-like fluidity, an appropriate tool for the variety of characters portrayed in the lyrics; lyrics that captivate (imprison), even when they are written in Israeli they enthrall by the sheer force of Meira’s presentation (sung in her native tongue, but translated for maximum impact, see “Dissect Me Again” for unrelenting, obstinate anguish in the face of torture--it leaves one drained, mentally exhausted, and it is only the third track on the disc). There’s nothing artificial about this disc: everything seethes, it rants, it unravels in volcanic tides, it is unapoligetic, it showcases an artist whose only guideline is, again, honesty. Through a web of intangible perceptions and concrete experiences, Meira shows us a place (Israel/Palestine--the disc is an audio postcard to the outside world, drenched in blood, sweat and turmoil) most of us could not imagine. Experience for yourself this cathartic, defiant, audacious masterpiece. ~ JC Smith

Here’s the first track from the disc, “Shahid 1.” This is rough stuff. This music doesn’t flinch. Listen to the whole track, it builds, it rages. This is music with a purpose. Wow! Listening again now, simply smoldering, snarling, potent… Phew!


Enjoy!  Or at least pay attention. It's got teeth and isn't afraid to bite, tear...masticate...


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