Yossi Sassi Band - Roots and Roads
Traditional Israeli music tangles with the eccentricity of progressive rock
Words: Phil Weller
Strength in numbers is no alien concept to Israeli multi-instrumentalist Yossi Sassi. On his third solo album, alongside returning friends – most notably Guns N’ Roses’ Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal – is the formation of the Yossi Sassi Band who, fronted by the luminescent Sapir Fox, are finding unity and musical beauty in one another’s company.
Sassi has always been a songwriter with his roots worn patriotically upon his sleeve. Thus, he once more allows the Eastern tonalities that define traditional Israeli music to tangle and coalesce with the raw edged demeanour of rock and the stargazing eccentricity of progressive bands like Dream Theater and Yes. You feel this is music that comes straight from his soul – the music that pours out of him the natural result of his Israeli upbringing and his teenage prog rock rebellion.
From Root Out’s spinning introduction, poignantly flavoured by use of the Bouzouki, with its trepid and impassioned chorus to the off beat punctuation of Madame TwoSouls, the band remain heavily embedded within their hybrid sound. Yet they keep their musical journey reverential and interesting throughout.
More lulling moments like the cinematic Bird Without A Tree conjures picturesque visions in your mind, ones poked with colour and embroiling emotion. Along with the more upbeat moments, such as the twist and pull boogie of Palm Dance – where the presence of Bumblefoot’s incendiary lead playing is electrifying – and the palpable, Nevermore inspired thump of The Religion Of Music, it helps generate a more wholesome record. Upturning many stones, the Yossi Sassi Band are determined to keep your intrigue and enjoyment piqued.
Road Less Travelled shines brightly meanwhile. An adventurous piece which traipses across a plethora of musical dimensions, from its quiet and meditative beginnings to the galloping, falsetto iced middle sections and its soulful conclusion, the song is wrapped in a mysterious but compelling aura. It glistens, shimmers, something about it standing out uniquely in a way that sweeps you away.
The odyssey of Winter, at eight minutes and twenty seconds, is a song best experienced without preconceptions. A sprawling and delicate masterpiece, this is one to immerse yourself into with no distractions.
If you search for a record to pull you lovingly into its transcendental and lucid soundscapes, to escape from the mundanity and stresses of everyday life then Roots And Roads is your medicine. They say that travel broadens the mind and, musically speaking, that stands true too. Here is a band, spearheaded by a clever and humble musician, which exudes sounds rarely heard in rock music before – and shamefully so, as their compatibility is undoubtedly potent. It provides variety, escapism and, above all, a unique beauty. As I write these words on a typically grey scale and overcast Mancuanian Monday afternoon, this is exactly what I need.