Abraham Lev Weiss, aka Lenses, left his seven-piece soul/rock fusion in New York City to hit the road on a spiritual and musical journey that left him in Israel and left us with his solo project the full-length ‘And’ Ands. The album was recorded and mixed in Weiss’s various homes in Portland and San Francisco. Lenses seeks a more honest form than the previous electronic work of Weiss. The result is an acoustic folk-poet piece where the vocals lead the guitar, clarinet and listener on a journey through time and place.
The album kicks off with a short minute intro track, “Revision” where the Damien Rice-like vocals lead the clarinet and other instrumentals throughout the piece. “Revision” successfully sets up ‘And’ Ands as a complex, often dark and lonely, concept album that leads the listener through physical and spiritual travelling. Followed up by track two, “My Own Lead,” the soft guitar and lower register clarinet support the song’s realization that “I am my own best friend,” longing for past lovers and general company. The light, bright guitar makes this track a sort of ballad instead of a whiney call for company. “Revision” is a great counterbalance to some of the deeper musical turns, such as the use of chains to establish the tempo in “The Guru’s Brother.”
I would be remiss not go into the album’s nearly seven-minute behemoth track, “Zion.” The main struggle of the quest climaxes in “Zion” where Lenses rejects the worshipper position. The eerie chant-like repetition of “Rise to our feet” overcomes being subordinate to a god, a government, a boss. Weiss originally believed his solo project to be his final album, before buckling down and getting a real job. Throughout the creation process he realized that he can never stop creating despite society’s pressures to be in school, be at work, “are you in still in school / are you finally free / will you escape with me / I know you will.” “Zion” encourages everyone to “rise to our feet” and be free. It is definitely worth a listen.
Followed by “These Walls,” Weiss clearly recognizes that being an artist in today’s world is an endless struggle. On top of golden guitar and encouraging piano, he urges the listener to “gotta go through” possibly referencing the maxim “the only way out is through.” With its hopeful musical phrasing sort of ‘sun after the rain’ piano, “These Walls” is definitely my favorite track. It calms the listener after the anxious chanting in “Zion.” The entire arc of the album really drives And’ Ands as a musical and conceptual reprieve in the struggle against the mainstream.
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