Jazzy Nonconformity | The Holy Gasp: ...And the Lord Hath Taken Away (Roar Records Inc. / April 7th, 2023)
The Holy Gasp: ...And the Lord Hath Taken Away
(Roar Records Inc. / April 7th, 2023)
Imaginative music, spoken narration, and vocals in a theatrical vein blend in an experience that defies description, let alone categorization. The Holy Gasp is a fluid ensemble that was founded by Benjamin Hackman in 2011.
|The Holy Gasp, from the album, "...And the Lord Hath Taken Away,"|
Musically, there are elements of classic musical theatre, Jewish music and Klezmer, cinematic scores, orchestral music and other threads (even classic roots country) woven into the mix. Instrumentation is lush, including strings, brass, and orchestral percussion. In total, it involves an orchestra of 45 musicians and vocalists.
As a vocalist, Hackman has the emotional and musical range of someone trained in musical theatre. There are solo vocalists along with a chorus that underscores the message.
I'd like to wait until I die...
(He'd like to wait until he dies...)
- from A Boy & His Kite
|The Holy Gasp|
Holy Gasp, aka Benjamin Hackman, writes lyrics in a kind of stream of consciousness fed by Gestalt and an off-centre sensibility that combines sincerity and wry wit. He's not afraid to tackle the big topics, let's say, and the album takes its source material from The Book of Job, with its inherent questions about the nature of suffering.
What does it all mean?
What will you do when your father is dead? is both the title and chorus of the song. It's like a circus ride through life with a definite flavour of Jewish culture and a dramatical flair - and a running theme about the death of your father.
Some of the tracks are pure theatre. Archie & His Gang in: The Day of Atonement is a trippy spoken word + chorus ride. A Confession of Murder tells a story of patricide with high drama and a mood reminiscent of medieval melodies. Who Framed Moishe Hackman is a cinematic score from several decades ago.
The ensemble is musically chameleon-like. The mood switches to bluegrass gospel for The Ascending Ladder, then to cool jazz for Everything Where It Should Be.
The project is begging for some kind of staging. Not surprisingly, multi-hyphenate Benjamin has also collaborated on film projects. The Algonquin Bridge, illustrated by Mayte Sanchez and Txesco Montal, with music by Hackman, was awarded the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Animation at the Cannes Short Film Festival.
Devil Oh Devil" by The Holy Gasp, from the album, "...And the Lord Hath Taken Away," released by Roar Records Inc. on April 7th, 2023, and distributed worldwide by Believe Music via Slammin Media. Animated by Alla Kinda.