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Overall score 75

SolMonk

“Beats Not Words” is the debut release from Time Grove Selections. It’s the first of eight planned releases spanning a two-year period that will showcase a series of collaborations between leading jazz musicians and beat maker/producer Rejoicer aka Yuval Havkin  who is one of the founders of the beat label Raw Tapes and is a central figure in the electronic scene in Tel Aviv. This project aims to bring Tel Aviv’s flourishing music scene to a wider audience.

Sol Monk (Aviv Cohen), one of Israel’s most creative drummers and drummer with the band Layerz, is well-known for his ability to cross musical genre boundaries. He has said of this project that “the music was created first of all in the name of music” – an apt description.

This thirteen track album has clearly been made with a dedicated love of music but is also a musical journey of discovery. It’s a fusion of freestyle jazz, electronic sounds and bass – an unusual musical collaboration but one that actually works remarkably well.

Opening track “The Navigator” sets the initial tone with a haunting summery vide, very relaxed and chilled with a delicate trumpet performance by Avishai Cohen.

Second track “Puff Puff” changes the vibe completely. It’s quirky. It’s catchy. The electronic influence is more subtle here and the drumming from Sol Monk is first class.

“Catch Your Tears” changes the mood again. This is a sultry love song with deeply emotional vocals and a wonderful double bass intro.

Each track offers something entirely different to the listener, sometimes with the tracks bordering on the bizarre. One such example is “Super Drums”- fabulous drumming but with a serious hint of a Monty Python-esque sketch to the vocal.

The shortest track on the record, “Donalina” is a mere 42 seconds long. Phenomenal drumming but the electronic influence here creates a vision of a gigantic wasp buzzing round Sol Monk’s head.

“Trumpet Galore” completes the album. This is a sultry jazz trumpet solo accompanied by very subtle controlled drumming. Throughout the track however the electronic influences are a little overbearing. It’s a classic case of less would’ve been more which is a pity as it has the potential to be the highlight of the record.

So does a freestyle jazz, bass electronic mix really work? On the whole – yes. “Beats Not Words” as the title suggests is drum focussed but it is also a musical journey of exploration of sounds. It wasn’t an unpleasant journey and I’m curious to hear what else this two-year project produces.

 

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