Sequencing, the art of determining the track order on an album, can make or break a disc. Misplace one track, and it’ll totally throw off the momentum of a work.
In 1997, the Klezmatics released Possessed, a follow-up to the incredible Jews With Horns.
I don’t remember giving Possessed very many spins, even though I was left with the impression the music was every bit as good as Jews With Horns. Something didn’t allow me to enjoy it.
Five years later, the Klezmatics came to Austin and after the show, I bought a collection released by the band’s management company titled Between Two Worlds.
Half of the songs on the disc came from Possessed, and interspersed with other Klezmatics’ works, those songs sunk in. I came to appreciate the album I didn’t give a chance half a decade previous.
The moment happens after the emotionally wrenching “An Undoing World”. Following a wordy but beautiful cautionary tale of rootlessness, “Mizmor shir lehanef (The Reefer Song)” crashed the album.
A slow, overly-long, atmospheric fun song after a slow, concise, mournful sad song? My interest strayed.
And it couldn’t be salvaged in time for the epic, nine-track suite, “A Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds”, which was written for a Tony Kushner play.
That doesn’t mean Possessed isn’t a good album. In fact, Between Two Worlds, which is not available in music stores, proves it is — it probably shouldn’t have been sequenced the way it was.
The frentic “Sirba Sirba Matey”, which opens Between Two Worlds, is buried on track eight on Possessed. “Shprayz ikh mir”, a song which builds slowly to a joyous conclusion, works better as a second track instead of as an opener.
Many more examples abound, but ultimately, digital technology allows listeners to find a right order for them, and once you do that, the performances on Possessed really stick out.
Violinist Alicia Svigalis and trumpeter Frank London burn on “Shvarts un vays”, while reedman Matt Darriau gives his sax a workout on “Moroccan Game”.
Just don’t mess with the sequence of “A Dubbyk”.
Rounder Records has reissued Possessed, and the album should now again be available as of this writing.