issue 11 :: July 2005

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REVIEW: Ghedalia Tazartes

“Diasporas / Tazartes” CD (Alga Marghen)
reviewed by Jacob Green
I swear it’s a real thrill for me each time I find any Alga Marghen CD in a used bin at a record store. It is an import label from Italy so they are not cheap but if I spot one I will buy it every time without listening to it because I know it will be something that I should hear and learn from. Everything they release is by composers with a very recognizable style but it’s hard to find one stranger than Ghedalia Tazartes partly because it’s hard to call him a composer in the strictest sense. His main instrument is voice but it is the voice of the gypsies, therefore much of his music sounds like songs. Basically Tazartes creates a bed of loops and/or drones using taped samples and synthesizers and then sings over them in a style that sounds like gypsy folk music. But it is interrupted by sudden cuts to a child speaking (reciting?), sometimes piano or string instruments stating a new theme, or found sounds, only to cut from that back into a different loop and another song. I don’t know why but it all seems to make sense when I hear it, as if I recognize the inner logic without knowing what it means. The latest release is called "Diasporas / Tazartes" and the CD has some pretty bizarre liner notes: "Ghedalia Tazartes is a nomad. He wanders through music from chant to rhythm, from one voice to another. He paves the way for the electric and the vocal paths, between the muezzin psalmody and the screaming of a rocker. He traces vague landscapes where the mitre of the white clown, the plumes of the sorcerer, the helmet of a cop and Parisian anhydride collide into polyphonic ceremonies. Don’t become a black, an arab, a Tibetan monk, a jew, a woman or an animal but to feel all this stirring deep inside of you."
Originally recorded in 1977 the first half of the disc is "Diasporas" (a dispersion of a people from their original homeland) and, as far as I can tell, is composed almost entirely out of vocal sounds looped and then chanted and sung over in a language that I don’t recognize except for the occasional French ballad or spoken passage. So we start with a 10 minute suite of songs called "Un amour si grand qu’il nie son objet" (A love so large that it denies its object) and continue down that path until track 4 goes into a little piano and toy piano piece by French electroacoustic composer Michel Chion called "Quasimodo Tango" sung in French, then back to the gypsy-esque music and loops. There are tracks that even sound kind of like a tribal punk rock orgy.
The second half of the disc called "Tazartes" must be from the early ’80s. The basic concept is the same as "Diasporas" but the recording sounds a little different. Some of the vocals sound like they are being played back on actual keyboard sampler, something which would not have been possible just a few years prior, and there is more extensive use of electronic synthesizer sounds. The overall mood for these tracks is a bit calmer and my favorite moment on the whole disc comes during track 16 when a call to prayer (not really a muezzin) turns into a woman singing an operatic aria (not really an opera) that is slowly interrupted by short samples of applause triggered by taps on a drum, which sounds a lot like fireworks at first. Another quote in the notes says, "Ghedalia is the orchestra and a pop group all in one person: the solitary opera explodes himself into an infinity of characters." Listening to such strangely unique music is truly a beautiful thing and makes me feel really spoiled because I start to think of the world as my own salad bar.
 
>>Jacob Green is a multi-instrumentalist living in Austin, Texas. He performs with the Austin New Music Co-Op, Brekekekekexkoaxkoax, Frontal Spanking and the Gates Ensemble.>>

 

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