Yossi Sassi & The Oriental Rock Orchestra – “Illusion of Choice”


Known to me as the Co-founder of Orphaned Land, Yossi Sassi is an internationally acclaimed musician having shared the stage with a plethora of artists from across the world, such as Metallica, Steve Vai, Marty Friedman and Steven Wilson to name a few. Haven given a TED talk on ‘The power of music to unite people’, he was awarded 4 peace and friendship awards from cities and governments. That’s not all, he invented the unique Bouzouki-Guitar instrument (Electric guitar combined with acoustic Bouzouki) and is known to play 17 different type of guitars and traditional instruments.

While the music has a blend of eastern and Oriental scales eclectically blended with Progressive rock we do hear a lot of experimentation with tones. The band loves to drive inspiration from different cultures in the world, while listing Joe Satriani, David Gilmour, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, and Opeth as some of their influences. To me that’s a wonderful list of progressive influencers and some of my favourites too.

“Illusion of Choice”, a concept album, marks as the 4th Studio album by the band scheduled to release on the 4th of April 2018, the String were recorded and arranged at Yoed Nir String Productions, while the record was engineered, recorded, mixed and mastered by Liron Schaffer at ‘Black Rock Studios’, Santorini, Greece and Jaffa Sound Arts, Tel-Aviv Jaffa. This concept album emphasizes on the illusion of what we think of is our choice, whereas it may be an amalgamation and culmination of multitude of external factors that remain oblivious and hidden from us. The context sounds very promising and I cant wait to queue it in.

The album opens up with “Kardia” with its truly magnificent and refreshing soundscape. Right at the outset we realize we’ve stumbled upon something unique and great as bar by bar various instruments plunge in adding so much flavour to this opening track and we’re left surprised as high tonal and slightly distorted bass barges in and disrupts everything only to be mingled back to the whole orchestra of things. Brilliant!

The next track, “Reveal” really appears to be out of nowhere but gradually blends in the ambient scheme of things. The claps on the drum goes well with rumbling bass and the neat and progressive guitar riffs. The song takes many well-coordinated progressive shifts and ends beautifully with second voices at the outro. “Art of the Problem” has a remarkable and catchy opening to a guitar riff, which is abruptly interfered with a high on gain finger picked bass line and a musical schism quickly occurs with beautiful voice chiming in and changing the trajectory of the song direction all together.

“Maktoob”, a predestined fate, resonates with a middle-eastern styled riff, the distorted guitars add flair and pumps up the metal in the song. An instrumental track with melodic hymns, accentuated with a Bouzouki, pounding guitar riffs, and a pleasant breakdown adding so much power and ruggedness to this song. “Choice”, sung beautifully by Ester Rada takes on a slower tempo could well be passed off as a Ballad, but it is not. It’s the epitome of the concept of this album and has a beautiful guitar solo to its credit.

“Oriental Echoes” picks up pace and braces us with heavier guitar chugs with some middle eastern elements in the guitar riffing, but this truly is one grand of a progressive track taking the song places and leaving so much element of surprise that its breath taking. This song upped their game and makes me want to take a step back and listen through their older records. I’m sure of have discovered a gem that needs to be preached and publicized about.

“Monad” and “Akrotiri” have the same magical catchy middle-eastern riff with a running bass and maybe it’s a flute I hear in the background in “Akrotiri”, and the well sung hymns in the chorus and a soul replenishing guitar solo to uplift you and mesmerize in “Monad”. My attention goes to their well-orchestrated song arrangements and baffles me with beauty much beyond comprehension. Kudos!

I do not want this album to end, but I’m left with no choice as I helplessly move to “The Syncopating Heart” the ballad that speaks of grander things, of hope, of understanding and misunderstandings. Staying true to its element and conveying the context of the album straight from the gut.

Production –.The album is mixed, mastered and produced brilliantly. I could have not asked for a better sound.

Conclusion – This is a beautiful album and needs to be listened by all. It has an important message for us all, and yet delivers all that message with so much magic and character that it leaves you hungry (musically) for more. Definitely a must buy!

Rating: 9.5/10

Written by: Ankit Sood

The Oriental Rock Orchestra
Yossi Sassi – Vocals, Guitars (Electric, Nylon-String, Acoustic), Bouzoukitara, Bouzouki, Charango, Oud, Chumbush, Mandolin
Or Lubianiker – Electric Bass
Shay Ifrah – Drums
Ben Azar – 7 String Guitars, Guitar Solo on “Maktoob”
Roei Fridman – Percussion
Danielle Sassi – Flute
Yogev Levi – Nay flutes
Ariel Qassis – Kanun

Guest musicians
Ross Jennings – Vocals on “Reveal”
Ester Rada – Vocals on “Choice”
Amir Rozanes, Roei Fridman, Or Lubianiker, Ben Azar, Yossi Sassi – Choir
Yoed Nir – Cello, Strings, backing vocals on “Choice”
Hen Shenhar – Violin

1. Kardia
2. Reveal (ft. Ross Jennings)
3. Art of the Problem
4. Maktoob
5. Choice (ft. Ester Rada)
6. Orient Echoes
7. Akrotiri
8. Monad
9. The Syncopating Heart

Preorder Here

“Melting Clocks” (2012)
“Desert Butterflies” (2014)
“Roots and Roads” (2016)
“Illusion of Choice” (2018)

Record Label: Independent, April 2018

Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Twitter / Headstart  / Bandcamp

Video for ‘Reveal’ (ft. Ross Jennings)

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