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Manginah releases third album

By John Krisch

Section: Arts

October 6, 2006

Manginah is back with its hottest, latest CD, Yo backwards. The CD, directed by Ari Fleisher and Yuval Brokman, came out this summer, and it is the groups third album, following Songs from a World Tour of the East Coast (2001) and the inaugural Manginah (1997).

The production of this CD has been years in the making. By 2005, the group was still selling the 2001 album, while only one member featured in the album was still a Brandeis student. In the meantime, the group had been performing some new music, so they figured it was time to put their work onto a permanent form, for CD players all over Brandeis (and the country and the world).

Producing a CD is not simple business. One of the major difficulties was financing this venture. Though Manginah had made some money from past gigs and CDs, they were also able to borrow from Hillel, and are hoping to eventually make a profit from CD sales. Another difficulty was the actual recording, a very time-intensive process that sometimes seems frustrating and inefficient, with people waiting around, unable to leave, and unsure when they are needed.

But its all worth it. We couldve taken less time on it, but we wanted to do it right, so we sounded the best we could, said Fleisher. Manginah can really be proud.
Brokman agreed. “The CD is exactly what we wanted it to be. (It is) a true reflection of the way we sound live. Our CD is perfect for anyone to listen to in the car, or (simply) to sing along.”

In the studio
During Spring Break 2005, days would start at the crack of dawn. The group would caravan into Boston, warm up in the lounge around the pool table, and start the recording by 9 a.m. It would be quite a long day, as the singing lasted until 10 p.m., and even later on some nights.

The recording was done at Mix One Studio, where producer Ted Paddock, with his knowledge and experience recording professional music, guided them through the process. Members of the group liked the hilarious Paddock, who teaches at Berklee College of Music. Paddock has produced good work in the past and has serious knowledge of mixing techniques. Manginah decided on Mix One after touring the studio and considering the costs of other studios.

The process involved multiple recordings. First, the group got together to make the scratch track, which basically serves as a guide to the key and the tempo of the song, for each individual to sing along to later. Then, each voice part of the song did its recording in the sound booth, with the bass, the tenors, the altos and the sopranos all separately recording their tracks. Finally, the soloists, the percussion, by Yuval Brokman and Sam Knee, and the funk elements would record.

Each voice part kept singing the song until it was exactly, perfectly right. The group would keep singing until the producer said it was decent;

Paddock was an unbiased judge, commenting on who came in late and who was flat in order to ensure that all the performances were sharp. This process allowed the group to minimize singing errors and pinpoint mistakes. The group could usually finish one song in their 13 hour days, but, being perfectionist, rarely accomplished two. “Sometimes we sang the same song for four straight hours,” Brokman explained.

This process meant that, while one part was busy perfecting their sound, the other members of the group were chilling out in the lounge, catching up on homework, watching movies, wearing chicken hats, or just getting to know each other. It was stressful, but funny, and Fleisher insists that the individuals became much closer as a group.

Throughout the rest of the spring semester, on some Sundays, the group would return to the studio, sometimes re-recording the soloists, and the percussionists. Then came mixing time, with the Musical Director, the Producer, the Business Manager, and others, who would mix together the tracks to balance the various voice parts. Production then continued in the Fall of 2005, under the direction of Yuval Brokman, with full days on Sundays, finishing and mixing together the final tracks of the CD.

After recording in 2005, the members of Manginah got their CDs in the mail this summer, each at different times. They sent e-mails to each other, gushing about the quality of the CD.

And now? Now, the CD is available to all those fanatics on this campus who are Manginah crazy. It is well known that nobodys fans are quite like Manginahs. The group attracts fans who know Israeli pop and who cant quite find this type of music on any radio station in the US. And Fleisher believes that Manginah is one of the A capella groups that accepts all types of fans, sharing their love of music and Judaism in a fun and different way.

YO Backwards
Some of the 13 CD tracks contain the usual Manginah type of song (Hebrew Pop tunes), but this CD also experiments with some unique sounds. Hanukkah Hey Ya, the sixth track, is in English, based off the Outkast smash hit of 2004, and with some so-cheesy-its-actually-pretty-entertaining lyrics.

Other notable tracks are Yalla Bye, track three, a smooth, casual tune featuring recent graduate Hillel Skolnik, and, a group favorite, Darkenu, track nine, with its low-key, even somber tone. Finally, HaMasah, the second track off the album, was chosen for this years Best of Jewish A capella CD. (Why only highlight those songs? Soulmate and Yoducha are also pretty addictive songs in their own right.)

The CD is currently $10 per album for Brandeis students and can be purchased from any Manginah member. (Online it is more expensive, but Brandeis students who prove online purchase can be reimbursed.) Go to www.manginah.com for clips, a biography of the group, and for more information.

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