The Gangsta Rabbi – Terminator V617F – Album Review
Well…it’s not every day that you stumble across something that sounds like this does! Answering the long-standing question of ‘what do Rabbi’s do after we’ve all gone to bed’ – The Gangsta Rabbi is here to show you in-full just how crazy and bizarre it can actually get over there. I’ll fully admit…there’s almost nothing about this sound that I could have predicted would be coming my way this morning…not a thing about this record – the 25th from the Rabbi mind you – is typical at all. That being said…there’s obviously quite an audience for the music he’s making – not only is it the 25th album, I seem to be getting here quite late – there’s already more than 50K in hits on every counter for every song!
Some of this though, will make much more sense to you than others do. The crazy and extreme sounds of The Gangsta Rabbi start immediately on the short, punked-out “Garbage Man.” It’s frantic…dramatic…big sounds hit you quickly…a wall of sound is established and a defined vocal-sound is also present from this moment forward. “Garbage Man” gives you a solid snapshot of what to expect throughout the rest of the record to follow – the unexpected.
Instrumentation is flying around everywhere to the point where you realize quickly that the Rabbi certainly hears sound in an altogether different way than the rest of us do. “Spin A Dreidl All Around Me” is an interest cut…The Gangsta Rabbi nearly resembles an Ozzy Osbourne-esque to the sound of his vocals…the music is tough to separate piece for piece…you can hear the bass standing out…you can also hear a somewhat constant flute which I’m not altogether sure works… The combinations are complex…strange…unique in pretty much every way you can conceive…and like anything new to our ears, it’s bound to be somewhat polarizing. Our friend the Rabbi here has more in common with psychedelic-rock that you’d think his religion would allow for – but make no mistake, the dude’s rockin!
Something like “The Real Me” was a little more straight-ahead and easy to get the ears around. Great ideas fuel the fire in this track…the guitar tones are crisp in distorted excellence and the bass is working magic overtop. The vocals fit this one a lot better for the sound/style of the music…that Ozzy-ish sound pays off for The Gangsta Rabbi here on “The Real Me.” The drums…maybe a little too on the programmed-side to compete with the ‘realness’ of the rest of what’s happening…the music sounds incredibly organic, real and alive. Lots happening…like there is on all these tunes – but I think “The Real Me” dials-in on some solid hooks by dialing-back the insanity in the mix and smoothing out the ideas in the writing overall. The same could be said for “The Rabbi Is Dead” – most of that track comes out with a solid classic-rock twist to it and it’s a little easier to grasp…but on this one that ‘jammed’ sound of the Rabbi rages into all-out chaos with parts flying around all over the place. Wouldn’t be a bad thing necessarily…but a few of these elements in the mix, horns, flute & such…there’s some solid off-notes in there that keep this one short of the potential it may have. The guitars stood out once again…the tones are coming through great there; the vocals…at this point on the record already you’ll wonder if the Rabbi has any more tricks up his sleeve for the mix on those…keeping them the same and in the same style of singing each time is more than a risk – that’s a potential massacre to a masterpiece for anyone. But yeah…I can’t lie to ya otherwise I’m not doing the Rabbi or you guys any good through these reviews – “The Rabbi Is Dead” needs further examination and some elimination of a few brown-notes to work.
“The Show Of My Life” borrows a little from the punk/pop side of life…the vocals are set a little further into the mix and once again seem to fit the music a little better here on this tune. I think there’s a madness to this particular track that I keep finding myself loving big-time…but when I go to examine it piece by piece…I can’t help but start to feel like potentially the same recipe is being applied to every song and every step here…which is completely weird because there is SO MUCH going on in every song. The consistent traffic-jam of sounds perhaps leads to a full-on all-too-consistent sound; that’s going to work for and against the Rabbi…you’ll always know it’s him – that’s for certain. “The Show Of My Life” bounces along with heart and playfulness…I admire its ambition…and it’s quite clear at this point that The Gangsta Rabbi is going to show us little to no restraint on this record when it comes to the extremities of sound.
Like…I can try as hard as I can and I still can’t make sense of “JAK2-V617F” – the ideas that this guy has are simply beyond my own comprehension. I can understand perhaps having the ideas…maybe…but bringing them to life and to a record is a whole other story! I hear something like “JAK2-V617F” and I think to myself…’I guess that’s come out exactly how the Rabbi would have wanted?’ – because I truthfully have no frame of reference and no audible clue as to what it is he really likes in music other than a whole ton of sounds happening at once. In a modern-day shift towards minimalism in music as of late…the Rabbi has certainly not yet received this memo and is continuing to add the kitchen sink.
By the time “Bonkey On The Donkey” starts up, I definitely need a new…something vocally. The sameness that the tone, effects and sound of the Rabbi’s performance has created an album that virtually sounds like one incredibly long, overly-enthusiastic jam. That may/may-not work for you…we’re all different and The Gangsta Rabbi is definitely proving that right here on his new record. “Bonkey On The Donkey” is a little unorganized…a little shifty in the mix…it’s tagged with a hashtag that reads ‘Outsider Music’ – and I agree. This is something you find in the underground trenches of the independent music-scene, proving once again that people are truly capable of extraordinary things. Like it or lump it – The Gangsta Rabbi is more than likely creating something here on this record that you haven’t heard ever before – and you gotta respect that whether it suits your personal taste, or not.
It is strange…because a lot of this would come down to the Rabbi’s own personal taste. And he’ll give you a taste of potential every once in a while by teasing you with a more straight-ahead sound for a moment or two, like at the beginning of “Feeling Stronger Every Day.” The guitars come through solidly again…the vocals at this point are still doing the same thing more or less…I’m on my way to tuning them out to focus on the music, which is still ever-changing and constantly jamming it out. Different effects…more variation to the patterns…different tones…more audible words…anything at all could be done differently at this point to retain our attention to those vocals – again, it’s strange to me that there can be so much variation happening in the music, yet the Rabbi for some reason doesn’t want that same theory applied to the vocal-department? Seems like a strange call at game-time here. “People Who Died” might be about as close as it gets to a slightly varied sound on them…but really that’s just due to the structure’s slight changes as opposed to the tone or approach from The Rabbi. Seems like a few timing issues on this one…a lot of stuff happening behind the beat…but in a strange way, it made “People Who Died” turn into an interesting listening experience for sure.
“Mourn For Me Like The Prophet” encounters more brown-note difficulties…I don’t get it. Clearly the Rabbi knows what ‘on’ and ‘off’ are…it’s not like this music is devoid of merit or talent…but the choices being made sometimes boggle the mind. I don’t know anyone that digs something that’s out of tune…and there are far too many moments on a song like “Mourn For Me Like The Prophet” for it to stay enjoyable at the massive-length it’s at. We’re talking about a nearly nine-minute tune here with many of the same sounds, moods and instruments jamming that we’ve already heard…so it can feel like a lot by the tenth song on the record, knowing that you still have another five songs potentially using much of this same formula to come. On the bright-side, the vocals make themselves a little less known throughout this song and leave much of this cut instrumental – and that works…there’s some good stuff musically in this track that gets a chance to stand out a little finally…but over the course of eight-minutes, maybe still not enough.
The very beginning moments of “Cool To Be Hebrew” I enjoyed…then right back to the frantic/chaotic sounds of the Rabbi. I’d never thought I’d ever in my life once tell a Rabbi that he really, seriously needs to chill-out…but this guy really does. The Gangsta Rabbi is creating a wall of sound each time the opportunity presents itself…and I think a lot of what he’s actually doing and the efforts that he’s putting in won’t be nearly as recognized as a result; if people can’t discern what’s happening by listening, that’s bound to lead to confusion…confusion doesn’t often get the ol’ thumbs-up from the general public.
Taking a cue from the UK-based punk-sound/scene – “I Fall Everywhere” has some solid moments. I really do appreciate the wicked-crunch that the Rabbi seems to get from the bass & guitars…there really are some incredible sounds scattered throughout the layers upon layers of instruments competing for your attention. “I Fall Everywhere” is one of the more accessible tunes on the record…I think I could hear people grasping this one a little more easily than most.
You can tell that The Gangsta Rabbi would be an amazing person to meet and hang out with. From the pictures he’s got posted at Soundcloud – you can see him surrounded by a ton of musical instruments in the picture that comes along with “Scientist.” All I’m merely suggesting Rabbi…is that when you go to record…just move a few of those instruments just slightly out of reach…I absolutely PROMISE you that you don’t have to use ALL of them to make incredible music. You are consistently writing Frank Zappa’s ‘Black Page’ on every song here brother…not only is it way too much work, but shorter song-lengths…less tracks…all this would help the album blossom and sound more focused overall.
As the album heads into the final two-tracks…”Famous When I’m Dead” twists it all a little more towards that hypnotic/psychedelic-vibe once again…with of course the ever-present big-band aspects in the music of the flute, trombone and other randomness. The punk sound isn’t necessarily bad…but vocally I can actually hear less effort from The Gangsta Rabbi in spots of this song. Though I might not dig the sound myself overall…he’s been consistent in his own sound/performances up until “Famous When I’m Dead” – I think he might be copping more of a stylistic thing here…like extra-attitude…but it at times sounds a little bored with its own melody. Punk was/is famous for that, many times over.
Ending Terminator V617F with what I would easily call my favourite track on the record…there’s some redemption here at the end of this album for The Gangsta Rabbi. The first minutes rock as hard as the dude is capable; big-big-BIG guitar sounds and bass-riffs work some truly amazing magic on this final cut. Again…it boggles the mind! To me…when you hear what he can do here…you’d almost wonder why he’s been doing ANYTHING else! Leaving “60 For My Strength” instrumental was a solid-idea…one I’d almost wish was incorporated into the record more often throughout…or at least having that switch in the tone, approach or effects on the vocals might have accomplished something similar. Because it’s so massively different without added vocals…”60 For My Strength” has every advantage to standing out already – BUT…the fact remains, the song is one heck of a final jam and has some incredibly meaty riffs you can’t deny. Really clever switches…a few issues in the transitions and sporadic nature of the music – but it’s organic, it’s real and it’s clearly vibrantly alive being made by a person completely in the zone and massively enthusiastic about making music at every moment he possibly can.
Find out more from his official website at: www.gangstarabbi.com