Jugalbandi - Yellow Star Mailing List

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Great Artiste 89 Records
Catalog Number: GAJG002
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:02:00

The Yellow Star Mailing List is the second release from Jugalbandi, taken from the same sessions that produced the The View Is Better From From The Top Of The Food Chain and The Cram And Stuff Method. Recorded over a period of four days back in April 2000, Yellow Star features 7 pieces, beginning with the 13 minute title track. A melancholy guitar (Greg Segal) cries, while quietly throbbing drums (Hyam R Sosnow) creates a sense of movement. It is a mournful piece with an Old World feel, brought about Segal's guitar -- in another age, it'd be a violin. The drumming has a slight martial rhythm to it. This has also the feel of film music composed in the early part of the last century - around about the 1930's or so. You can almost see the flickering back and white images as the drama unfolds -- silent, of course. Actually, Nosferatu came to mind, though I've never seen the film, only stills in books. But this is the look. Or a Bela Lugosi film, though the tale isn't necessarily horror in that sense. It would be a real-world horror - The Holocaust.

This and the piece that follows, capture the essence of a very dark time in human history. Many will recall that in Nazi Germany (and, in fact, much earlier than that, too), those of the Jewish faith were forced to wear a yellow star to indicate that they were Jewish. The images on the album's cover and back illustrate the mood the music is creating, the pictures giving you a context with which to approach the music.

"Yellow Star" develops into something quite different from where it started, creating a sense of controlled chaos. The rounding up of Jews perhaps, soldiers chasing those who are trying to escape. You know how when you watch an old film, everything seems unnaturally sped up? Well, this is the image here, making this a morbid "Keystone Cops" kind of scenario. You laugh at the jerky movements of the film, trying to forget what horror will inevitably await those being chased. In fact, there is a photo on the back cover of this release which shows numerous individuals on foot and in a cart being marched along the street by a soldier -- this piece captures that perfectly.

As much as the music on this album evokes a mood or feeling, there isn't a lot here to latch onto otherwise. Nothing that lingers in mind's ear, playing itself over and over again. Lots of good and interesting technique, some very nice guitar and drum parts, and some good raw material to work with, but nothing that really comes together as a unified statement. There's a lot of "sameyness" about it - keening guitar, taut drums. Sure, there's the variation of the two "Valley Plaza" pieces, but otherwise, the pieces are almost interchangeable. It's when you look at them at a technical level that you see the variations and differences, which targets a particular segment of the audience.

While, "Dreaming In The 9th" is a brighter tune by comparison - Segal strumming his guitar while Sosnow plays a tattoo on his drum - it doesn't develop enough to become thoroughly interesting. Where the band diverge from the norm in with the surf music feel of "Valley Plaza," a track named for a North Hollywood landmark. This same piece is reprised, in a different form in, naturally enough, "Valley Plaza (Reprise)." Each evokes images of the California coast, where the sound of Segal's guitar has a fat and loose, doubled sound with just the right amount of echo. This ties in thematically, though not musically, with the track that comes between them, "Gidget Goes Canine." Gidget, for those who don't know, was a character in a movie (1959, Sandra Dee) and a short-lived TV series (Sally Field), which ran from 1965 to 1966 - the setting? California's Pacific Coast. And there were two other movies in the series, Gidget Goes To Rome and Gidget Goes Hawaiian. No, I'm not a Gidget fan, I just happen to know this...well, I did have to look up the other two movie titles.

Anyway, the longest piece on this album is the 25-plus minute "Gidget Goes Canine." As with The View..., the booklet includes notations on each piece -- all pieces were improvised but for "Dreaming..." What becomes interesting about this piece is the dynamic drumming of Sosnow. No identifiable pattern exists (i.e., no strict 4/4), and, as he himself says in the liner notes, "here I'm doing lots of unison figures with my hands and feet, as well as some trading of licks between them." Segal bends and twists guitar notes over this like a modern rollercoaster without the velocity. It does make me think of late 60s psychedelic rock, mainly European in origin, both stylistically and production wise. It's that stream-of-consciousness like noodling, where the point is the journey not the destination. That doesn't mean this is exactly formless or meandering, though. As the pair note, "this came out at the end of multiple versions of 'Valley Plaza.' The only resemblance to that piece is the use of brushes on the drums. But that was enough to suggest a connection."

I was not bowled over by the album. I do think that the first piece is particularly haunting, and would be ideal for a documentary, and the surf sounds of "Valley Plaza" are fun, but there's not enough to pull you in and demand it be played over and over again.

Yellow Star Mailing List (13:31) / Remembering Precognition (10:54) / Dreaming In 9th (3:07) / Previously Disenchanted (14:44) / Valley Plaza (2:26) / Gidget Goes Canine (25:53) / Valley Plaze (reprise) (2:47)

Greg Segal - guitar and gadgets
Hyam R Sosnow - drums

Greg Segal - A Man Who Was Here (1985)
Greg Segal - Night Circus (1985)
Greg Segal - The Fourth Of Three (1986)
Greg Segal - Water From The Moon (1987)
Greg Segal - A Real Human Being (1991)
Greg Segal - Darkland Express (1993)
Jugalbandi: 1999 (1999)
Jugalbandi: 2009 - Deep Cuts (1999)
The View Is Better From The Top Of The Food Chain (2000)
The Yellow Star Mailing List (2000)
The Cram And Stuff Method (2000)
Greg Segal - Experimental Guitar Sampler (2000)
Greg Segal - Always Look On The Dark Side Of Life (2001)
Greg Segal - In Search Of The Fantastic (2002)
Night Crazy (2003)
Laydown Delivery (2003)
Bid For Legitmacy (2003)
Mount Pinatubo Sunsets (2003)
Hyam R. Sosnow - The Teller-Ulam Configuration (2003)
Greg Segal - An Awareness Of Frameworks (2004)
Greg Segal - The Eye That Shines In Darkness (2004)
Greg Segal - Standard (2004)
Greg Segal - The Hero As Pantry (2004)
Greg Segal - Planet Of Garbage (2004)
Greg Segal - Episode (2004)
Greg Segal - Adventures Of Forever And Nowhere (2004)
Greg Segal - River (2005)
Greg Segal - A Play Of Light And Shadow (2006)
Greg Segal - The Old Familiar Place (2006)
Greg Segal - Tales Of Today Will Be Tales Of Long Ago (2006)
Greg Segal - Phase Two (2006)
Greg Segal - Jugalbandi Classic (rec. 1993, rel. 2007)
Hyam R. Sosnow - Tickling The Dragon's Tail (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 20th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.jugalbandi-music.com
Hits: 651
Language: english


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