PSEUDOSCIENCE ENSEMBLE (Rabbinical School Dropouts) – Anne Frank’s Ghost

Rabbinical School Dropouts are a ten-piece big band who’ve obviously listened to a whole lotta weird music in their day. Led by reed and woodwind ace Michael Friedmann, Rabbinical School Dropouts are the complete amalgam of new Jewish music run riot: They embrace vanguard jazz, folk music, funky soul-jazz, R&B, outrageous 21st century classical music, Latin, swing, Zappa-style freakouts, and the blues, all done Yid style.

This is madness, music with humor, teeth, and a devil-may-care attitude about whether or not the listener gets it. But we all should; the arrangements here are so innovative and tasteful, it won’t matter which of the above musics — or combination of them — you fancy, because you will be sucked into the hypnotic, swirling world of the RSD and then be showered by a water cannon of absurdity. Listen to the juxtaposition in “Warp to Level Three,” with its hammering hand drums and snaky soprano lines as it moves from one minor key into another on the way to an arpeggiated catharsis and falls back into a 3rd century melodic and harmonic framework to highlight the improvisational and timely nature of them melodic theme. Likewise, the next track, “Cosmic tree,” begins with tiny chimes and other hand percussion in a sultry, breezy tone of exotica à la Martin Denny. A melodica and harmonica graft a melodic frame against the bassline that creates a slippery sort of counterpoint that is so subtle you have to pay attention hear it, all the while this little two-chord vamp glides and swoops around the listener’s head, taking them out to the margins of the desert to the oasis. Don’t worry, it doesn’t last. The manic energy and psych-metal screeching guitar in “Solarium Khosidil” is proof. The staccato horn runs, the non-stop hand drums, and the feedback jar one right back into a world more familiar — or is it? This is not for the faint-hearted, though it is plenty accessible; it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. (