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I Hear Sparks: Eyal Maoz’s Edom – Hope and Destruction

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The first thing you notice when listening to Eyal Maoz play guitar is just how flat-out fearless he is. Consistent, attentive, astonishing and insane, Maoz is a fundamental constituent in New York’s fusion of jazz, avant-garde, Jewish and rock music.

With his band, Edom, Maoz gets to play with all sorts of melodic variances. Using his guitar as a wild launching pad, he leads his ensemble through the paces of a dozen plucky, fascinating pieces.

Brian Marsella, best known from Cyro Baptista’s band, handles the Hammond B3 and synthesizers in the outfit, while Shanir Blumenkranz plays bass and Pink Noise’s Yuval Lion dishes out percussion to flesh out Maoz’s Edom. The group is crisp, vigorous and a ton of fun to listen to, telling a story that could probably only be described as a “rocking odyssey” on their second release entitled Hope and Destruction.

The title is about as apt as it gets, as Maoz’s ensemble tinkers with the nuts and bolts of song construction to break things down and rebuild them on their own euphoric wavelength. A startlingly emotional work, Hope and Destruction runs the gamut of poignancy, energy, desolation, and pure unadulterated bliss.

The journey begins with the surprising “Somewhere,” cruising into existence with something that almost sounds like Rush and blasting down avenues that call to mind some early Tom Morello riffs. Maoz is intrepid, venturing far outside any genre pigeonhole to create a sound all his own.

“Shuki” pulsates with organs that call to mind devious door-to-door preachers, while Maoz’s blinding guitar toys with the song’s configuration. Marsella proves he’s no slouch either, knocking out a searing solo that blends with Maoz’s feedback to create beautiful noise.

As good as the ensemble is, it’s Maoz who really knocked me for a loop here. With John Zorn calling him a “cutting edge guitarist who combines the harmonic lyricism of Bill Frisell with the angst and skronk of Marc Ribot,” I was more than intrigued. But hearing Maoz let loose pure demonic paradise on tracks like the screeching “Tsi” or the Southern rock-tinged “Two” is just something else.

Hope and Destruction is an endless fount of fun, a true-blue scorcher that showcases one of music’s most unspeakably gifted guitarists in Eyal Maoz. His Edom ensemble is a nice fit for his frantic paces, but the radical composer and guitarist is just in a league all his own on this one.

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