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World Music CD Reviews Europe

DAVKA

By Robert Kaye
Published January 20, 2006

The Golem
Tzadik

Think of Davka as a Jewish Shakti. Unlike the group’s previous albums, however, The Golem is a soundtrack penned by violinist Daniel Hoffman to accompany the 1920 expressionistic German silent film of the same name. Many of the project’s 32 tracks are less than a minute long, hence the album traverses many moods and programmatic ideas. Hoffman’s cinematically oriented compositions—at times, sound bites even—are well conceived and executed. The instrumental interplay is, as expected, excellent. His dark, often comic, score even extrapolates motifs from “Thus Spake Zarathustra” and “The Munsters.” Some of the pieces also hint at or rework themes from Davka’s previous, Kabbalah-inspired works. For those who enjoyed Davka’s earlier, more extended improvisational forays into classical/jazz/East European/klezmer/Indian acoustic fusion, the music here may be too structured; the band’s nearly mind-boggling ability to musically dialogue with one another truncated. Nonetheless, taken at face value as a soundtrack, the album succeeds quite well. To its former lineup of Hoffman on fiddle and Moses Sedler on cello, The Golem adds hand-percussionist Kevin Mummey and bassoonist Paul Hanson.