The musical solar system that is Maza Blaska may revolve around Yoni Mizrachi (guitar/vocals) and Sam Corlett (vocals/mandolin), but the pair will be the first to tell you that the planets are just as important as the sun. They have featured over a dozen Columbus musicians over the past few years, and each has imparted a little bit of their own style to the collective. Mizrachi, Corlett, Kyle Charles (bass), Blake Anthony Ray Miller (guitar), Jay Robertson (drums), and Curtis Cole (percussion) make up the core of this universe, and their gravity attracts guest appearances from Columbus ex-pats such as Dane Terry and Tyler Evans.
What started as Mizrachi’s musical dabblings during a sabattical in Israel resonated with his musical and artistic friends back home, and when he returned they began fleshing out what would become their first full-length, “Storyteller”. The ‘musician/artist collective’ formula for band-building conjures images of half-baked both – mediocrity and sloppiness dressed up with hipster-indie cred and an ironic record cover.
“Storyteller” is the antithesis of this definition – a focused, beautifully concise, smartly orchestrated pop record that feels very natural and very polished all at the same time. With help from veteran engineer Eddie Ashworth (Sublime), the band spent the better part of a year recording, re-recording, arranging, and re-arranging. Once everything was built up, they started subtracting elements until what remained were the bare essentials.
Even though the journey orbits the globe– influences and sounds from American folk, afro-beat, and Eastern European klezmer music can be found all in one song – the trip feels grounded. Mizrachi’s vocal delivery is soothing, never forced, and Corlett’s alto is a perfect complement. Toy piano, mandolin, banjo, and percussion are all used unironically and with great skill, and the arrangements never upstage the songs.
Moving forward, the band wants to pass around the songwriting duties as well as the instrumental experimentation. No matter how they get there, there is no doubt the next voyage will be as interesting as the first. If there is a law that governs both outer space and Maza Blaska it is a twist on Newton’s first: once a celestial body is set in motion, slowing down is not an option.