Prophecy Playground — Comfort Zone (Feb. 15, 2020)        Prophecy Playground — Comfort Zone (Feb. 15, 2020) Prophecy Playground — Comfort Zone (Feb. 15, 2020)♣   Spojením jemně psaných melancholických písní a instrumentálních témat s pečlivě uspořádanou smyčcovou sekcí, odvozenou z prvků klasické evropské komorní hudby vytváří hudba Prophecy Playground polozapomenutý, téměř nově představený zvuk — druh folku, který kombinuje melancholii, tajemno a dramatické prvky. Tím přitahuje zájem a zvědavost k někdy prediktivnímu žánru. [Význam: předvídající na základě pozorování, zkušeností.]    Location: Tel Aviv, Izrael
Album release: February 15, 2020
Record Label: Friendly Folk Records
Duration:     27:55
01. Engineered Loneliness   2:15 
02. Comfort Zone   2:58 
03. Spirit Yawn   3:24 
04. Eleanor’s Cake (Which Ate Here)   2:25 
05. Occasional Blues   2:00 
06. Mellow Day Melody   3:44 
07. Pour Yael   3:23 
08. Nobody Cares For Me   2:57 
09. Politely Polluting   3:02 
10. A Cat In The Sack   1:47
♣   Or Izekson — Acoustic Guitars & Vocals
♣   Carmiella Bernstein — Cello
♣   Avner Reshef — Violin
guest musicians:
♣   Guy Braham — Drums & Percussion
♣   Ziv Grinberg — Double Bass
♣   Ran Gross — Flute
♣   Ada Regimov — Harp
♣   Itamar Ben Yakir — Trumpet
♣   Guy Eylon — Cello
by Richard Hollingum ⌊ 18 March, 2020 ⌋
¬♣   Ido like those albums that when loaded into iTunes, say that they are of ‘unknown genre’. This is often a way of homing in on some really great finds, and here is one, Prophecy Playground’s debut album Comfort Zone. Prophecy Playground is a project by singer/songwriter Or Izekson, founded in Tel Aviv in 2018.
♣ℜ♠   It has the feel of a concept album in terms of a beginning, middle and end structure, exemplified by the music and not by a definite theme that is pursued — though the listener is free to add the narrative. The opening Engineered Loneliness is what hooked me and floated me back to those days of light strings, prominent cellos, summery guitars. Light and yet a sense of dark skies and a touch of ennui. The languorous or grey thoughts clear when we hear the opening chords of Comfort Zone, a bright tune that belies the song’s message that despite doing something to change, change doesn’t happen if you miss the point.
♣ℜ♠   The similarity of approach to these two tracks, and indeed virtually all of the album, to Nick Drake is not an accident as Or is currently performing a tribute solo act to Drake’s Pink Moon. Spirit Yawn, also very Drake~esque, starts with the clear acoustic guitar and the strings coming in from underneath. I get the feeling that this track, along with most of the others, are self~reflecting, unconsciously right for these self~confinement times. Is the singer thinking, perhaps tricking himself, that his lifestyle that he thinks is the best, is, in fact, not at all what he needs. Similar ideas come through on Occasional Blues, another cheery melody carrying the message of ‘Don’t let yourself get buried in the past’ even though ‘you sometimes feel like a stranger to this age’. Yeah, don’t get buried — listen to the music and go with the flow instead.
♣ℜ♠   Even though iTunes cannot categorise, and there is always a danger of pigeonholing bands, there is certainly more than a whiff of psych~folk about the album. This attribution is clearly present with Kevin Ayers’ Eleanor’s Cake (which ate her) (from Ayers’ 1969 album, Joy of Toy), a track that sits perfectly here. Across the album elements of English bucolic poke through, possibly via the intermediary of Drake, and swirl around with the sprites of the guitars, the subtle lush backdrops of strings, and with the lyrics that may mean something or may mean nothing. ♣ℜ♠   Politely Polluting is possibly the track that puts the most psych in this psych~folk collection and no doubt ensures years of interpretation of the lyrics:
♣   What is that on your face
A forgotten disgrace
Lightened with the glow of oscillating mammals
And their potentials blown
Through her paradigm eyes
Bones will divide by twelve misfortunes and sigh
♣ℜ♠   Of course, the meaning may be easy to see, but I just like the idea of a face lit up by the glow of oscillating mammals. I suppose it depends on what mammals pop into your mind. Don’t worry, just go with the flow.
♣ℜ♠   It is the lyrics as much as the music that attracts me to this album. Mellow Day Melody, another internal conversation presumably, paints little vignettes: ‘a fountain’s painful vow’ and ‘A sleeveless shirt and a pinch of empathy’, and my favourite of the lot:
♣   So pick up a stone
And find the shady patterns she had drawn
A rising setting sun
And a shiny shipwrecks’ second drowning
♣ℜ♠   ‘A rising setting sun’, you know just what it is but you cannot grasp it clearly to describe. Don’t worry, just go with the flow.
♣ℜ♠   I haven’t mentioned Mississippi John Hurt’s lovely waltz Nobody Cares For Me, another perfect fit for Or’s delivery. Its strict 3/4 time adds distinct texture that permeates the whole album, sort of nostalgic but really a sentiment that is as true now as ever it was.
♣ℜ♠   Finally, the other bookend, A Cat in the Sack. Less pensive in mood than the opening number; come in the door at the start and work through the various rooms of reflection but then when it’s time to go there is a spring in your step, a touch of humour, if only tempered with a touch ennui. However, just don’t worry, just go with the flow and enjoy the music. Excellent.