Good news for Camel fans: the band still makes music, and how! However, don’t look in the shops under the name “Camel”, try this one: Sanhedrin. No, not the death metal Sanhedrin from England (what an unlucky choice for the name of a metal band, really!), but the Israelian progressive rock one. This former Camel cover band issues a debut album finally, with their own, and fabulous instrumental music, still in Camel style, just like that fantastic band used to be in good old seventies, only production is even better!!
For the younger prog adepts, let me try to offer you some more famous references. Think of Pink Floyd and early Genesis - during Peter Gabriel years, but slightly softer - less intensive or passionate, if you wish. Gazpacho and Anglagard come also quite close in the neighbourhood. You will find here lots of analogical electronics, a flute, sax, mostly softly sounding guitar, a melodic bass, and not too aggressive percussions. The melodies are beautiful, a little contemplative. One song can easily contain lots of rhythm and melody changes, but without too much counterpoints and stress.
There are only a few moments which just slightly deviate from that description, a little away from the soft symphonic rock, to the Jethro Tull sound, with a flute leading the tune, some acoustic instruments and a kind of medieval composition structure and sound. The short acoustic guitar piece “Tema” is damn beautiful, it could be easily penned by one of the two Steves – Hackett or Howe - in their best years.
The band, formed in 1998 around brothers Barness, names also King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator as their influences. It may be quite so, but don’t look for it inside this album. Genesis and Pink Floyd – surely, since it most probably might also have been an influence for Camel’s Andrew Latimer. Well thought, perfectly played, fantastically produced, “Ever After”, released in February 2011, could be one of the best Camel albums ever.
Let me also give you some information about the name of the band, just for information. “Sanhedrin” means Synedrion in Latin. It was the Jewish religious council back in ancient times. Think of the Bible, The Pharisees and the judgment of J.C. After I discovered the meaning of the word, I understood, that it will take at least little time for me to get used to it.
The album is instrumental, but it is a concept. It is not really made clear, what concept is used here. One of the songs is named “The Guillotine”. Is it a reference to Napoleon who tried, for one reason or another, to revive the Sanhedrin in the beginning of the 19th century in France? It is of course, quite possible, that the concept of the album has nothing to do with the name of the band. After all, the legendary Genesis didn’t write music about the creation of the world too.
Here is my first and very concise interpretation for you: “ll Tredici” means the 13th in Italian. It is the 13th Century, that is why it is followed by “Dark Age”, and then by “The Guillotine”, and in the end by “Steam”, the age of steam of course. So, it is a historical concept: from the dark ages to the age of steam. Inside this concept, there must be some story, that you probably will have to invent yourself.
I hope, you will find a story of your own here, while enjoying the music, which is in any case really great!
2. Il Tredici
3. Dark Age
4. The Guillotine
Gadi Ben-Elisha – Guitars, Mandolin
Sagi Barness – Bass
Aviv Barness – Keyboards, Saxophone
Igal Baram - Percussions
Shem-Tov Levi – Flute
Michael Lam – English Horn
Elinoy Yogev – Bassoon
on Tuesday 10 May 2011 - 11:04:30