Best Local Album: Jewish monster movie soundtrack

The Golem, Davka

As the band Davka freely admits, descriptions of its music tend to involve a lot of hyphens: “Neo-Jewish-roots-fusion; Middle-Eastern Ashkenazi jazz; avant-retro-hybrid-postmodern-art-musik; fiddler-on-too-much-Turkish-coffee,” its Web site gamely suggests. For klezheads and the klezoblivious alike, though, The Golem — Davka mastermind and Oakland violinist Daniel Hoffman’s soundtrack to the famed 1920 silent film — is a weird and wonderful cultural mishmash. Based on the Jewish myth of an enormous 19th-century clay monster come to life, The Golem‘s high-art cinematic expressionism is expertly complemented by this bassoon-violin-cello-doumbekzarb combo, which veers from merry to menacing, reverent to rambunctious, and dainty to dire almost instantly over the course of 32 bite-size tracks. You don’t need the flick playin’ in front of you — or encyclopedic knowledge of music powering it — to appreciate something so simultaneously foreign-sounding and warmly familiar. It rules.

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