Review: Shoresh “Black Box”

Shoresh “Black Box”

15 Mar, 2011 Alex Henderson

In Israel, the 35-year-old Shoresh is better known for his work as the owner of a music venue than he is for recording or putting out his own music.  Shoresh is the owner of Ha’Pitriya, which is a well-known club in Galili, Israel (“pitriya” is the Hebrew word for “mushroom,” and “Ha’Pitriya” means “The Mushroom”).  But Shoresh is also a talented singer/songwriter, and Blackbox gives listeners a taste of what he has to offer as a vocalist and as a composer.  Shoresh favors alternative pop-rock that is on the moody, atmospheric side.  Valid comparisons range from David Bowie, the Doors and Brian Eno to Radiohead, and while Blackbox isn’t goth-rock per se, it has some darkly haunting melodies that goth-rock audiences should be able to appreciate.

Most of the time, Blackbox favors subtlety and restraint over aggression, forcefulness and intensity.  Listening to “Gate B-5,” “Ghost Town,” “Tossing Coins” (a male/female duet with fellow Israeli artist Hava Teichman), “Glance,” “Back Home,” “Weary” and the title track, one could easily get the impression that Shoresh is the type of artist who would rather float than rock.  Those tracks have an airy quality, and parts of the album could appeal to the shoegazer/dream-pop crowd (popular shoegazer acts have ranged from the Cocteau Twins to My Bloody Valentine to Lush).  Shoresh, who wrote all of the songs himself, doesn’t rock out very often on this 2011 release, but even when he does, Blackbox doesn’t lose its moodiness.  “Big Fish,” for example, has hints of Bakersfield country, but even with some twangy guitar playing that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Buck Owens album of the 1960s or 1970s, the tune has some goth appeal and achieves an eerie vibe.  The song’s approach is sort of Bakersfield meets the Doors (who helped pave the way for what came to be called goth-rock).  “Soaking Out,” another one of the CD’s more rocking tracks, has an infectiousness that recalls the Doors’ “L.A. Woman.”  It rocks in a moody fashion.

Occasionally, Shoresh incorporates elements of world music.  The haunting “Paved in Veins” has a Middle Eastern flavor, and there are hints of Indian music on the mildly psychedelic “Glance.”  Alternative pop-rock is the main course on those two tracks, but world music is an appealing side dish.  The eerie “Ghost Town” and the brooding “Uncontrollable” are among the tracks that have the most goth appeal.  Neither song would sound out of place on album by a goth-rock group like Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

Shoresh sings in English with a slight Israeli accent, but he is quite understandable (English is widely spoken in Israel, and Shoresh obviously speaks it well even though he is from a country where Hebrew is the dominant language).  Shoresh’s Israeli accent is actually a plus in that it helps to give his subtle vocals a lot of character and personality.  As a vocalist, Shoresh is not the type of artist who will shout to get one’s attention.  He has obviously mastered the art of restraint.  But despite that subtlety, Shoresh has no problem getting his points across emotionally.

Because Shoresh is so fond of understatement (most of the time, anyway), Black Box is not an album that goes for immediacy.  It may take the listener several listens to realize how much Shoresh has going for him as a vocalist and as a songwriter, but the more one listens, the more evident Shoresh’s positive traits become.  Shoresh is an artist of substance, and Black Box paints an attractive picture of this Israeli club owner turned recording artist.

Review by Alex Henderson
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)