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Greg Herriges

Revel & Ritual: Holiday Music for the World

Review by Gary Hill

Given that Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere) represents the least amount of daylight of any day on the calendar, it's no wonder that so many cultures created holidays around that event.  This new release showcases music from many of those cultures. From Middle-Eastern sounds to Chinese, Eastern European, Hebrew and more, this music is world music based at its heart. Many of the arrangements are set in old-world instrumentation (with a focus on acoustic guitar a lot of the time), but some of it even works into progressive rock territory. While most of this is instrumental, there are a few songs with vocals (one in English). All in all, this is sort of a cultural exploration in the form of an entertaining musical release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Birjina Gazetto Bat Zegoen
I love this cool instrumental. It's very old-world in style. It's also intricate and quite powerful. It calls to mind the kind of thing that Blackmore's Night does in a lot of ways. This is a traditional Basque composition, but delivered with an intriguing arrangement. It is energized and magical.
Garuda/Khelat Rang Holi
The arrangement on this one is more modern in some ways. That said, it's still performed with a lot of old world instrumentation and has plenty of world music texture built into it. It has some vocals (female) that are world music styled and not in English. While the main elements here are very Indian in style, this has a definite Western folk rock element at play, too.
Sakura, Sakura
A stripped down arrangement, this is created with acoustic guitar. It has a lot of traditional Japanese melodies and textures. It's pretty and quite effective.
Sevivon, Sov Sov Sov
I love Klezmer music, and this brings that home in style. It's roots music that's a lot of fun. The tempo gets a lot of variation from slow to fast and then to incredibly slow at the end.
Ashura
A faster paced cut, this is very Middle-Eastern in texture. While it's firmly set in old-world traditions, it is actually one of the most modern pieces here. There are all kinds of layers built over the top of this one. The number really stretches toward rock music. This even wanders toward psychedelia before it's over.
Foom, Foom, Foom
Acoustic guitar drives this piece. It's much more old-world and traditional.  This rather bouncy and has some cool changes.
Bright Night
Acoustic rock is on display here. This number is quite progressive rock oriented. It has vocals (male) with lyrics in English. I suppose overall this could probably be called "folk rock," but it is quite proggy in that regard.
Gong Xi Ni
Acoustic guitar based, this is quite a pretty piece of music. World elements (Chinese specifically) drive it. There is a bit of sound at the end that is like some found recording with a person speaking and some other elements.
Shchedryk
The title and song here have their basis in traditional Ukranian music. That said, you will probably recognize this. It is the piece that was used as the musical concept for the holiday number "Carol of the Bells." This version has a real progressive rock meets fusion kind of feeling to it. It is beautiful and powerful and still maintains some definite world music elements. There are vocals (female) later in the number with Ukranian lyrics. This is a potent piece and a great way to end things in style.
 
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