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23 February 2015

Review: The Sway Machinery- Purity and Danger

The Sway Machinery Purity and Danger

Jeremiah Lockwood’s The Sway Machinery is about to release their third album, Purity and Danger, and fans of the group will be well rewarded for the long wait since their last release in 2011. For those new to the high energy music offered by Lockwood, the band combines dance- worthy grooves with ancient Jewish melodies and Cantorial singing or Hazzanut from Lockwood. The result is very hip, while at the same time paying respect to traditional Jewish texts. 

The opener and title track Purity and Danger gives a quick taste of what the band is all about.
A rocking horn section against a bluesy, surf-inspired rhythm section. As a brass player, I am always interested in new, inventive ways a horn section can be used, and TSM has established itself at the forefront of innovation with creative arrangements, high energy horns, and, of course, the magical voice of Lockwood. 

A favorite track is My Dead Lovers Wedding, sung in English, dealing with the idea of Jewish resurrection. Between Lockwood’s vocals the horn and rhythm sections trade off in a life-and-death duel perfectly matched to the lyrics.

Longa gives a nod to surf music, with a tinge of distortion on the Electric Guitar. The band is on full display here, including a haunting Trumpet solo. 

Another favorite is Od Hapaam, with it’s complex arrangement and tight harmonies. And the addition of backing vocals gives this track a different character, and hopefully could get some radio play. 

I’ve always been impressed the the sonics on the TSM recordings. There is a sense of depth,
and the vocals have a distant quality, as if performed in a an ancient Temple. It is a unique blend of sounds, and gives the band a distinctive sonic signature. No other band sounds like this.

Listening to TSM, I am reminded of the diversity of Jewish music beyond the genre we call Klezmer, and it gets harder to put a label on much of the music that’s been produced in recent years. That said, I am happy to put TSM in a class by itself, truly without any resemblance to another band anywhere. Experience the beauty and power of The Sway Machinery for yourself, and see if you don’t agree.

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