Vaadat Charigim are an Israeli music outfit whose name roughly translates from Hebrew to “Exceptions Committee”. Hailing from Tel Aviv, the band’s new album “Sinking As a Stone” is the second part of their “Tel Aviv trilogy”, and was released in the UK at the end of September 2015.
The album’s overriding themes are melancholy and a quiet sort of angst, which might be expected given that it deals with the subject of the state of mind incurred living within Middle Eastern conflict zones. This idea often manifests literally; most of the songs on the album are fragmented, and end and begin with piercing notes softened by surrounding instruments. By confronting the listener with a noise that is uncomfortable and unexpected in most music, the band highlights the album’s constant sense of unease and discomfort.
“Sinking As a Stone” seems to function more as a whole album than as individual songs. Its overall effect is that of experiencing multiple different viewpoints all based around one theme, almost like interviewing numerous people about a monumental event. In keeping with this, while its songs are quite different, the album has a consistent sound throughout, using fuzzy layering of instruments, liberal use of cymbals, blurry lyrics, and cycles of rising and falling levels of sound, instruments and emotion.
Vocally the album is especially interesting since the lyrics are layered and muffled, making it pretty much impossible to differentiate individual words. The fact that Vaadat Charigim sing in Hebrew makes this choice of sound even more intriguing, as doing so blends the lines between countries and makes being able to understand the lyrics almost incidental, which is an indulgence not often afforded by music. With “Sinking As a Stone” we know the theme, we listen to the album, and the rest is up to us.
This lack of language, in place of a language barrier, doesn’t make “Sinking As a Stone” in any way less penetrative: the album’s moods and sentiments come across clearly, which seems best demonstrated in the album’s second song Hadavar Haamiti (The Real Thing). This song is crashing and speedy, giving the feeling of trying to outrun something. It uses major chords yet still feels unhappy, if perhaps in a resigned way.The melody line is unusually expansive, in an album of often prevailingly monotone lyrics. The disquieting note at the end of the song is made up of a “dropping” sound, which is followed by one long wavering note, like white noise after blasted eardrums.
“Sinking As a Stone” is an album far better experienced than written about, as is sort of foreshadowed in its indecipherable lyrics. It seems that for this album words are ultimately negligible: we need to listen and to understand through its music what the band are trying to say. It’s an unusual and worthwhile collection, if simply for the experience of not being able to rely on lyrics for a song’s meaning.
– Heather Billington
Venue: Sinking As A Stone
Support Band: Burger Recs