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9/10 Avi

MUSICA FICTA - A Child & a Well - CD - Altrock - 2012

review by: Avi Shaked

This seven year-old recording by a the now defunct Israeli progressive rock band finally sees the light of day, and shows a mature artistic vision one which is more adventurous than fellow Israeli proggers and label mates Sanhedrin demonstrated in the release we reviewed in our previous issue.

The well arranged, symphonic music confronts pastoral sceneries with bursts of edgy, at times even metal-inspired, playing. "Man & Angel" demonstrates this, sounding like a marriage between Genesis and Queen: the first is echoed through the song's fantastic theme and the guitar work, while the latter is evoked at the track's midway by some heavier tones and a Brian May-styled guitar solo; and so does "Run Free You Idiot," which features wild flute playing to galloping (even shredding!) guitar rhythms.

The dynamics are impressive (which is a key factor in making a good, neo-progressive rock album), and yet they do not overwhelm the poetic beauty and the sense of drama. The tension between the clean, fragile voice of Julia Feldman, and the throbbing riffs and rhythms places this album a cut above many contemporaries practicing progressive rock (of the old-fashioned type). We'd even like to argue that if Genesis were formed in the current century, it would probably sound like Musica Ficta, and that should give you a notion of how accomplished the music offered on this debut is.

We actually did find ourselves wondering how important it is to understand the Hebrew lyrics, and concluded that even non-Hebrew speakers shall be able to enjoy the songs just as much. Even though the lyrics are occasionally a bit witty ("The Postman") they can also be banal ("Empty Promises"), and in the latter case the musical delivery and Feldman's sensitive vocal performance are a far more important factor.

Anyway, one of the album's best tracks is the purely instrumental "A Fantasy": clocking at over eight and a half minutes long, this mostly acoustic number unfolds creative, medieval inspired variations on the title track's theme.

A Child and a Well is one of the best progressive rock releases to emerge out of Israel, and one that certainly demands worldwide attention. (9/10)


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