Steve Lieberman-Marcus, otherwise known as the Gangsta Rabbi – The King of Jewish Punk – has been busy filling his final days with creativity and passion alike. Crafting a uniquely expressive and genre-bending collection of original compositions, based on themes and progressions from his vast catalogue of work, the symphony brings together five hours of performance and 18 different instruments; ultimately offering listeners an incomparable and explosive journey through volume, detail, and emotion.
1st Sonata Opus #34 is perhaps the first moment at which melody pours through, most notably creating a somewhat highlands vibe, fusing the weight of heavy metal or punk with the multi-layered fullness of a neo-classical orchestra. Keeping in mind this is all the work of one man, the project provides a heavy and awakening hit that’s likely to prove intense and fairly unforgettable for the vast majority of listeners. It’s not a common genre, but something of a niche, yet to consider this being the work of an artist at the end of his life – Steve is currently in a hospice, sadly suffering with myeloid leukemia – there’s something deeply fascinating about this outpouring of energy and weight.
La Symphonie-Thrash du Professeur-Juif Rebele goes on to become something of its own, moving from loud to self-relevant, creating a series of threads that are surprisingly easy to acclimatize to. If you’re looking for something that exemplifies musical expression, passion, and creative freedom, this is a pretty fitting place to turn.
There’s a notable level of variation between compositions, changes in instrumental focus and melody, switches from distortion to brief moments of lightness and colour. Once you get into the swing of things, it becomes clear that a live performance of this work would offer something fairly out of this world.
Tracks five and six offer up the distant sound of voices gathering, as well as a free-flowing melodic development that sounds surprisingly hopeful – the latter track especially. Moments of space allow for brief instances of contrast.
Later on, moments like OPUS #22-HOLOCAUSTE intrigue for their underlying concepts and the contrasting lightness and optimism of the leading solo melody. The backing instruments follow each leading role in a bizarrely captivating manner, creating a sense of togetherness that almost feels like a vast crowd of music fans chanting in unison. OPUS #14-CHIEN DE BASSETTE JOUET DE TIRER (BassetHoundPull-Toy) is something of a highlight for its rising melody and the genuinely toy-like nature of the completed sound.
I’ve honestly never heard anything quite like this before. Steve Lieberman lets creativity guide him in a completely uninhibited, free and seemingly fearless manner. While there are more than a few central sentiments and emotions at the heart of this work, the resulting energy and vibrancy of the sound seems all but focused on sadness. There’s a complexity to all of this, to the creative process and indeed to the unusual nature of the musical output.
Those in the know will undoubtedly refer back to this project time and time again. For those not in the know – there’s nothing much else like this around right now. A conceptual and consistent presentation of deep-running artistry. What better way to spend your remaining time than to create from the depths of the soul and without a single restraint or concern outside of what needs to be expressed? I wish Steve Lieberman-Marcus all the best – thank you for the music.