Aside from the modern-day political undertones of an album of Jewish folk melodies made by an Israeli relocated to New York, the self-titled album by Edom, guitarist Eyal Maozs newest quartet, also puts itself up for some pop-cultural jabs. With Hollywood going ga-ga for Kabbalah, and the recent work of keyboardist John Medeski (who is featured here) with gospel revivalists The Word, it could be tempting to load Edom on the Jewish mystic bandwagon with Madonna and her coattail riders, but the bands musical sincerity and obvious background nip any sarcastic jabs in the bud.
The album sounds Jewish from start to finish, with traditional melodies providing the bedrock for many of the quartets improvisations and explorations. Medeski and Maoz steer a gypsy caravan around curvy Eastern European tracks on Innocence, and the darker, more open Hope and Destruction wanders into a Hammond-drenched carnival that Maoz twists into a nightmarish freak show with sinister, dissonant riffs and monstrous noise as bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkrantz grunts from behind the velvet curtain.
Drummer Ben Perowsky plays it straight on most tracks, waiting for Chita to rattle the bars of his cage. He swings softly through Lost as Maoz takes a jazzy solo, and Blumenkrantz and Medeski hook up the wagon for a bumpy ride until the wheels shatter on one of Medeskis signature breaks. Aside from a few aggressive tantrums of chaos from Medeski and Maoz, the whole band plays like the nice Jewish boys they probably are until spewing rock noise over the heavy, stalking groove of the aptly titled Big. Shedding the experimental dissonance on the more melodic Strength, Medeski plays a Saturday-in-Brooklyn baseball organ and Maoz morphs into a rock and roll guitar hero, all while Blumenkrantz thumbs counterpoint and Perowsky pounds a hulking beat.
Maozs classic rock radio child climbs a vacuous melody to slide back down through the dreaming subconscious of Eye, which echoes the alien chimes of the earlier Deep, but despite the albums spacey trips and aggressive stomps, its soul rests in the heart of Jerusalem. Whether they intended to or not, Edom, whose least Jewish member still carries a name as distinctly New Yorkean as Medeski, have created a highly spiritual album without all the artificiality and insincerity of the standard New Age meditation fodder. With weighty titles like Innocence, Hope and Destruction and Strength, and a creative twist on two old idioms, Edom is refreshingly new jazz whose roots reach far deeper than the swampy wetlands of New Orleans and take sustenance from a time and place as ancient and mysterious as the Garden itself.