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As far as my musical journeying has taken me, the Middle East has always been a region of the world that I overlooked. I suppose that most people can say the same but recently my curiosity got the best of me, and looking through a slew of Israeli bands I never knew existed, I stumbled across Yossi Sassi, a very talented multi-instrumentalist. Being something of a prog-head, this album peaked my interest as it's classified as "progressive rock with Oriental folk influences". The Cat Stevens look he's sporting on the cover is also pretty cool, so I figured I would check it out.
Mr. Sassi's first and only album thus far, "Melting Clocks",is a concept album based on the hustle and bustle of the modern life, following the journey of a normal guy through an uneventful day, from his drive to work to the journey back. From the opening track--"Drive"--to "Numbers World", "Sunset", and "Melting Clocks", the music explores the mundane and the beautiful while giving the listener a subtle glimpse into the everyday culture of Israel with flourishes of traditional Middle Eastern composition set against the backdrop of modernity.
The album is mostly instrumental and is primarily guitar driven, but has some decent male and female vocals thrown in for good measure on tracks like "Melting Thoughts", "Ain't Good Enough", and "The Routine". Yossi Sassi has a very eclectic playing style, shredding through hard rock solos, grooving with Middle Eastern odd time riffs, and performing some blissful finger picking on "Sunset". The album tackles a wide range of emotions, from eerie to serene, and maintains a thoughtful tone throughout, making for a dynamic listen.
Despite some mundane moments (ex. I didn't have the patience for "Ain't Good Enough"--a mediocre rocker) and a really bad spoken part in "Sahara Afternoon", the album is a solid piece of music. Skillful instrumental execution and interesting compositions make for a strong album overall, though it has some lulls and probably won't blow you away. I would recommend "Melting Clocks" for prog-heads, fans of instrumental music, and for those who enjoy music with a distinct cultural flavor.