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På skive


«The Night is the Night»

Rotem Geffen is the moniker of Swedish, Stockholm-based (with Israeli-Jewish roots) singer-songwriter-pianist-composer Nelly Klayman-Cohen. The Night is the Night is Geffen’s sophomore album, following You Guard the Key (Zeon Light 2021), and cements her profound, poetic universe with texts taken from poems of Jewish poets Paul Celan (especially from his book, Mohn und Gedächtnis (Poppy and Memory)), Else Lasker-Schüler and Clarice Lispector (Celan and Lispector also inspired the songs of You Guard the Key), sung in English, German and Hebrew. The album was recorded at Matti Bye’s studio in Barnängen, Stockholm, in April 2023.

Geffen collaborated with producer-keyboard player Alex Zethson (of Angles, Tropiques, Fire! Orchestra and Mariam the Believer) to balance the naïve and fragile shimmer of Geffen’s captivating vocal delivery and her melodic piano playing with the subtle, chamber intensity of the dark and even brutal recurring themes. The new eight songs delve into memories, love, sorrow, and the poetics of the night, and form an enigmatic, poetic song cycle that reflects Geffen’s practice where there are no boundaries between life and art, birth and death, or rawness and lightness, and where everything is intertwined. In these songs The «I» and the «You» merge as elusive, relational organisms, their boundaries continuously shifting, blurring, and being redefined in their encounters with each other and as a whole. Geffen sings to a you that is everywhere and nowhere; a you that is not one you but many; a you that is gone, the same you that is here forever.

The opening, title song is a dialogue with and a poem by Celan («Die Jahre von dir zu mir») and Geffen’s repeats Cellan poetic text, in English and German: «The night is the night, the begins in the morning, / it lays me down with you» as if it is a magical spell with a chilling, life-altering powers. The Hebrew song “Tachzeri Elay” (Come Back to Me) is a sensual song that addresses the corporeal and the carnal, yet the intangible manner, and is followed by the spoken word “River” which captures a mysterious dream-like, state of mind, where Geffen corresponds with another Celan’s poem, «Corona»: «It is time for the stone to bloom!»

«I Always Know» deepens this poetic image, with the rhythmic incantation of: «Out of my throat / grows the biggest flower». On «Ich Vermisse Dich» (I Miss You) Geffen’s vulnerable delivery is answered cleverly by the heavily muted, felt-covered sound of the piano. The beautiful, ethereal ballad «I’m Allowed to Love You» is imbued with seductive melancholy as Geffen recites the impossible lines: «You’re so near / as if you weren’t here», while the following «I Beg» imagines nocturnal scenes of endless despair and endless love. The album concludes with the minimalist «Hide» which corresponds with Cellan’s great poetry: «Light is the night / light is the night, which made hearts for us / light is the night!»

A most beautiful and moving masterpiece that demands repeated listening to explore its many, cryptic wonders.

Eyal Hareuveni

Nelly Klayman-Cohen (vocals, piano), Isak Hedtjärn (clarinet, bass clarinet, flute), Vilhelm Bromander (double bass), Milton Öhrström (synthesizer, harmonium), Alex Zethson (synthesizers, harmonium, celeste, prepared piano bass), Katt Hernandez (violin), Leo Svensson Sander (cello), Josef Alin (cello), Henrik Olsson (piezos, friction)