Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
More than most of the jazz-punk bands on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, Brooklyn’s Pitom understands that rocking is something you can’t annotate. They’ve mastered the avant-headbanger fury and punishing sludge twurk of Melvins or Weasels-era Zappa, pushing the whole thing through the scales and melodies of frontman Yoshie Fruchter’s Jewish heritage–if any band can walk the talk of the word “radical” in the phrase “Radical Jewish Music,” it’s these guys. Fruchter is equal parts seminary school, jazz school, and Nirvana’s “School,” doing the same for heavy metal that Zorn’s Masada did for free-jazz. “The Robe Of Priestly Proportions: Part 1” is a super-heavy blast of klezmercore, complete with violent, Ponty-esque violin work from bandmember Jeremy Brown, Fruchter’s completely ripping guitar work, and giddy bursts of downtown feedback. Also, there’s a full-on mosh part.
What is this song about?
The title of the song was inspired by the robe worn by the High Priest during the times of the Jewish temples. It had bells and pomegranates on its hem, which automatically makes it awesome. The song itself was one of the first that I wrote for Pitom, and started out as this weird salsa jazzy klezmer tune, which wasn’t really happening. Once we realized we were a rock band, the tune kind of rewrote itself into the noisy mayhem that it has become.
When did you begin writing stuff like “The Robe”?
I grew up in a Jewish household and playing and singing Jewish music. When I started to get into jazz and avant-garde in college, I also got hip to Tzadik records and John Zorn’s recordings. I saw an opportunity to use my strange musical tastes starting from Jewish music and going beyond, to create music that was meaningful to me, and also fun to play. That’s when I started writing songs like “The Robe.”
When you were younger, what was the first band to truly transfix you with odd time signatures?
My first delving into music outside of the rock that I was hearing on the radio during the early ’90s was the prog rock bands of the ’70s, particularly King Crimson. I loved the way they rocked, and how insane and complicated but controlled it was. There were also popular bands from my teens, like Soundgarden, who were playing around with odd time signatures that caught my ear. I saw it as a challenge to write music like that… complicated but catchy at the same time.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
I think my favorite thing to do is to go down to M and I International Foods in Brighton Beach, get some smoked fish, black bread and cheese and sit on the beach people-watching. To me, eating experiences don’t get much better than that.