The sound of the Kabbalah is something that is very common, might just appear to come out of a vault. It’s a sound of oldie vintage-rich rhythms, up and down vibes, and soothing effect of African rhythms, coming from an influence that can be traced to Marseillies.
Be it English, Russian, French or their mainstream genre of Yiddish melodies, the five piece band has a bullhorn, Soukou, makossa, guitars and sax in the menu. They walk along hip hop, rock and traditional African influences, with all of them being immigrants to the Mediterranean port from different parts of the world. Surprisingly, they all started out their music careers in the Marsillies jazz scene, playin in an around the jazz clubs in there.
“Kabbalah” is a hebrew word that means “reception”. Talk to them about the name’s base in Jewish Myticism, that emerged in Spain and Southern France, and they credit the implication of the oral transmission of this name to be one good reason as to why they got attracted towards it.
All of the Kabbalah members were born into the music spectacle as raw jazz musicians, except Anna (Russian violin player), who had a classical education in the music flooded streets of St. Petersburg. They grew up with hip hop influences and the same energy is reflected in their five years on the road and 300 shows across France so far.
I would like to call Kabbalah a vent of music, an incredible outlet of a blend of Hebrew, hip hop, rock and jazz ingredients meets beautiful and poetic Yiddish song writing.
Though it is still interesting to know that the band, keeps it in mind where they all hail from, but they stick to no particular sound when it comes to composing music. They believe that each culture is, by definition attached to a region and a historical context – and the last century wasn’t very tender with the Yiddish culture in particular. The face of their music is more contemporary 21st century. That concerns with the reminiscence of old times , supports the sentiment. And then again, it is always important to know where you’re coming from.
What adds an inimitable embankment to Kabbalah music is the Surf Rock guitars and mandolins along with other instruments used extensively in their songs. It is actually the mandole, mandoluth in English, that Stéphane plays besides guitar (Surf Rock indeed), which is a blend of the oud and the mandolin and has a typical oriental quarter tones. It’s a typical instrument from the châabi, a popular Algerian music form that originated in the 1950’s in Algiers.
“We have of course a violin, clarinet and saxophone, vibraphone, double bass and drums. We also add keyboards and samples to get a more “urban” sound. On our album Boxes, Bagels & Elephants we invited some musicians to play instruments from the great Gnawa music, like the gumbri, karkabou and bendhir”, said the Kabbalah members.
Their musical energy makes the sound of Kabbalah more open to new genres and dimensions of composition, knowing that it is not only Yiddish that they write and compose their songs in.
All in all, this beautiful band is composed of five incredible musicians, and consists of fifteen instruments with their rich knowledge of trance and imbibing three languages. Their eyes are set on a yet another French tour in July and August, followed by Germany, Turkey and the US after which, they would possibly be taking out time to compose and record their next album.
Written by: Sahil Sharma