Black Ox Orkestar

2009/01/15

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Black Ox Orkestar is a European Jewish folk quartet of musicians from Montreal, Canada that formed in the summer of 2000 to explore their common Jewish heritage for sounds that could speak to them in the present. They are linked with so-called “New Jewish music”, resetting European Jewish folk ballads traditionally sung a cappella, by writing and performing new, political texts in Yiddish.

In so doing, the group celebrates Yiddish diasporic art as a living alternative to state culture in every form and as an alternative to holding Israel as the cultural and ideological Jewish center. They use Yiddish as a code meant for deciphering, a message from the recent past that, in their view, cautions against the separation of peoples. As a hybrid tongue, the group feels that Yiddish has never stood for disengagement and enclosure, but always thrived on contact and exchange. Indeed, much of the group’s music revolves around political statements. Singing in Yiddish becomes a celebration of their heritage and a rejection of the assimilation undergone by the Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants who spoke Yiddish, resulting in the language’s virtual extinction as a spoken or daily language outside Hassidic Jewish communities.

They’re the darkest, densest folk group around, but also they have blowed my mind and ears totally. This is for sure the best music i heard in a long long time!

Black Ox Orkestar – Papir Iz Dokh Vays from the album “Ver Tanzt?”

Black Ox Orkestar – Toyte Goyes In Shineln from the album “Ver Tanzt?”

Black Ox Orkestar – Shvartze Flamen, Vayser Fayer from the album “Ver Tanzt?”

Black Ox Orkestar – Bukharian from the album “Nisht Azoy”

Black Ox Orkestar – Ikh Ken Tsvey Zayn from the album “Nisht Azoy”

Black Ox Orkestar – Ratsekr Grec from the album “Nisht Azoy”