Black Ox Orkestar - Everything Returns LP
Everything Returns reconvenes the original Black Ox Orkestar lineup after a 15-year hiatus. Arising from the fertile Montréal post-punk agit-prop scene of the early 2000s, the band comprises Scott Gilmore, Jessica Moss and Thierry Amar of Thee Silver Mt. Zion (Amar also continues to compose and play bass for Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Gabriel Levine of Sackville. Black Ox made two acclaimed albums of roiling acoustic avant-folk in the mid-2000s, exploring Eastern European and North African folkways through the lens of a gritty, resonant indie rock sensibility, juxtaposing interpretations of instrumentals from various Jewish, Romani and Arabic traditions with originals led by Gilmore’s politically-charged Yiddish vocals.First revealing its resurrection with a surprise flexi 7” single issued by leftist journal Jewish Currents as a gift to its thousands of subscribers, Black Ox has indeed fully and fruitfully reunited. Exquisitely recorded by Greg Norman (Jason Molina, Nina Nastasia, Electrical Audio), Everything Returns picks up right where the band left off: an incisively atmospheric, melancholic yet resolute album of uniquely modern Jewish folk music, with piano, violin, upright bass, clarinet and cymbalom making up the core instrumentation, and the vocal tunes sung primarily in Yiddish, alongside album centerpiece “Viderkol” and closer “Lamed-Vovnik” where English also features. Everything Returns is a sublime, poetic, politically-informed statement of re-energized diasporic musical intent, where Gilmore’s voice and the band’s simmering arrangements conjure an ardent, doleful balladry that echoes the sound and sensibility of artists like Tindersticks, The National, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen.