In the late-2000s, Philadelphia’s Electric Simcha took on the somewhat unthinkable task of merging the sonic influences of early-80s hardcore - namely bands like Black Flag and the Minutemen - with a repertoire of old-world Hasidic melodies drawn from weddings and other religious celebrations. The result was an Eastern European Jewish–tinged party sound that exploded into punk rock basements, squats, and art spaces as well as synagogues and weddings throughout the East Coast with completely reckless abandon.
Electric Simcha trombonist/vocalist Dan Blacksberg works at the forefront of modern Klezmer as a player, educator, and podcaster and explains the music as such: “We brought a deep Jewish sound into rock music in a new way - no one had combined these tunes with these sounds we were combining them with. We aimed to play the music with the same energy it's supposed to have in its traditional settings - ecstatic celebration. Bottom line, we took that impulse in these melodies, found a totally new way to support it with another genre's sounds that elevated what was already there, and achieved extreme results that I think go way beyond what other people had done before.”
The band only lasted for two years before members Dan Blacksberg (vocals/trombone), Nick Millevoi (guitar), Travis Woodson (bass), and Julius Masri (drums) - went on to other things, from tackling a similar repertoire with Hasidic doom metal band Deveykus to creating explorative instrumental electric guitar music with Desertion Trio and from the party funk of Adult Content to the extreme metal of Night Raids. While no members of the band are Hasidic, the four all converged from different musical, religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds over an appreciation of the material and a unique creative vision that energized the music through the members’ collective strengths.
A newly-rediscovered recording of the band at its peak reveals what the wold has been missing in the near-decade since they split. Joy, recorded by heavy music–master Colin Marston at his Menegroth studio in Queens, NY in 2011, captures a band unlike any other in terms of repertoire and explosive energy and spirit. The album’s tracks are organized in traditional wedding-style sets played at breakneck speed and ear-splitting volume, full of screaming, pummeling blast beats, and feedback-laden guitar and bass shredding that frequently go off the rails. “There's just nothing like us in any Jewish music that I've heard,” explains Blacksberg, “I don't think there's much like us as a rock band either. We were really loud, and we were really, really fast.”
released May 1, 2020
Dan Blacksberg - Trombone/Vocals
Nick Millevoi - Guitar
Travis Woodson - Bass
Julius Masri - Drums
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves.
In the late-2000s, Philadelphia’s Electric Simcha took on the somewhat unthinkable task of merging the sonic influences of
early-80s hardcore with a repertoire of old-world Hasidic melodies. From 2010-12, their Eastern European Jewish–tinged party sound exploded into punk rock basements, squats, and art spaces as well as synagogues and weddings with completely reckless abandon....more
One of my favourite musical discoveries in a while. These musicians are seriously talented. I can’t help imagining that there would have been a whole significant subculture of Yiddish psych rock like this in a different, kinder universe. For now, this is a window into that world that might have been. And I love every second of it. Audrey
What an album! But this time it's not a Millevoi guitar-wise material, this is a Millevoi compositional masterpiece. Of course we have his signature sound - great sound - those Tensor snippets, but most importantly we get 10 extremely well written compositions. Not to mention, how fantastically they are played, by an ensemble, that totally understand those tunes. Tomasz Litra