Sometimes the power isn’t within the lexicon, sometimes it’s the emotion behind each word that can be understood if meaning is at a lost between languages. You may not speak Hebrew, but when you listen to Vaadat Charigim, you feel every word spoken within their well-textured shoegaze.
The Israeli trio has made big ripples in their home country and abroad with their music, the international success may be surprising due to the fact that they don’t sing in English but vocalist Yuval Haring’s laudable focus on self perseverance over accessibility is one important reason to factor in yet the emotional impact is universal regardless of the understanding of the language. My understanding of Hebrew could get me as far as the nearest bathroom, but I didn’t need it to get lost within the poignant, introspective seven tracks of their sophomore record Sinking as a Stone.
Unlike their debut The World is Well Lost, which was a more dour, if not honest, stare into oblivion, Sinking as a Stone is a more introverted, frustrated story that flows from song to song flawlessly. The middle portion of their self-dubbed “Tel Aviv Trilogy,” which pays tribute to their local Bohemia and the elements surrounding it, is an amalgam of sorrow, anger and ennui that translate perfectly in the album’s stunning opening “Heshel”.
The dynamic first track (the title translates roughly to “The Snake’s Skin”) showcases the three member’s brilliant sound that feels massive in its layering and technique, Haring’s vocals sweep in on a veritable chariot of reverb and echo, each word drawn out to bounce off the tactile soundscape below it, these ten minutes of cascading guitar, bass and drums feel cinematic, like a sequence of imagery blending together to lay the foundation of what lies ahead.
Following the more upbeat “Hadaver Haamiti” (The Real Thing) the mood becomes a little more sullen. Haring’s voice becomes a sonorous monotone a la Ian Curtis on the slow burning “Klum” (Nothing), over seven minutes of dejected melody and down tempo drums that swirl in your head, leaving little pangs of sadness every time Haring lets out a passionate yell. If this song doesn’t get a single tear out of you, you are a robot.
Next to this was a somber yet fairly danceable tune in “Ein La Makom” (I Have No Place In This World), a new wave song drenched in delay and aloof, reverb laden vocals. Haring’s bitter, wistful tone go down like honeyed arsenic, sweet on the outside but deadly once you dig into it’s core. The mood is definitely down but the instrumentation is incredible, drummer Yuval Guttman’s fills and breaks are well syncopated when complimenting Haring’s adroit guitar and the bass work from Dan Fabian Boch.
The ethereal “Imperia Achrena” (The Last Empire) swoons while the penultimate “At Chaver Sheli” strikes a very emotional chord, all seven songs on Sinking As A Stone can immerse you in, the kind of music that can make you close your eyes and get lost into this audible reverie. What can be taken away from Vaadat Charigim’s music is that while they are deft musicians, their ability to set a feasible tone is something to behold. Each song has a palpable theme, even though it is in Hebrew, Haring uses his native words for it’s rhythm and idiosyncrasies along with the words impact. The language is beautiful, the phonetic structure of Hebrew allows such wonderful things to be done with it musically and Haring’s lyrics, though sad at times here, are phenomenal. Sure, you could dismiss this as a foreign language record but in the end you would be doing yourself a disservice, music isn’t about what is being said, like most art, it is designed to inspire or evoke an emotion.
Which is certainly sadness and anger, the kind that boil down to frustration. This record doesn’t stray from the unwavering pique Haring has in his life, which previously was aimed at the doomed world around him on their first record, which is understandable when you grew up in possibly the most contested, precarious place in the world. The theme here leans towards his milieu and himself on Sinking as a Stone, it’s a personal record and I don’t need my scant knowledge of Hebrew to know that and you will too.
The second chapter of their “Tel Aviv Trilogy” is a heavy hearted yet heavy handed collection of well crafted songs that will hit you in a way you wouldn’t expect it to. Haring has said recently that the third and final installment of “Tel Aviv” will be focused on the time he spent living in Berlin, it is safe to say that I’m excited about how this trilogy will conclude.