The Wailing Wall is New York-based multi-instrumentalist, Jesse Rifkin. The Wailing Wall's first record, Hospital Blossoms, released free on the JDub Records website, was downloaded well over 15,000 times by new fans all around the world. That project landed Jesse live spots on MTVU, WNYC Soundcheck, WFMU and Fearless Music TV. Now, Jesse's new record, The Low Hanging Fruit, is a mirror of his own struggle with a much beloved and alien world.
Still hungry and skeptical after 11 years of Orthodox day school education, and questioning his belief in a benevolent higher power, Jesse turned to the strains of Sufi Qawwali music, Hindu Kirtan chanting, Renaissance and Baroque church music.
Looking back, perhaps this wasn't a turn so much as a return: “My parents first met in a Siddha Yoga ashram in California where they both spent years following a guru named Swami Muktananda...[and] I grew up meditating and chanting with them. So throughout my childhood, there was an awareness of both Jewish and Hindu liturgical traditions,” says Jesse.
Indeed, the vibrant, multicultural dreamscape on The Low Hanging Fruit is a great departure from the rough, woodland edges of Hospital Blossoms. The Wailing Wall has expanded his instrumental palate, including the disparate choices of sitar, singing saw and pipe organ. Still, Jesse maintains his trademark attention to detail and a preoccupation with language.
“Throughout the ages, mystics have come up with some astoundingly beautiful ways to express things that are inherently beyond expression. I am in love with the poetry of the Bible, especially Psalms and Song of Songs, and have also been heavily influenced by St. John of the Cross, Rabindranath Tagore, Mirabai, and Rumi, among others.”
The Low Hanging Fruit is the product of a difficult year for Jesse, fueled by a series of personal setbacks and letdowns. However, even in times of darkness, Jesse was able to find some sense of comfort, hope and spiritual purpose in the act of self-expression. On “For C.M.R,” he laments “that light is hidden still because/the light hides like it always does/sometimes I wonder why we bother trying/but still somehow we able on/another dusk another dawn/and I feel another song my lips are forming.”
The record could not have come together without Jesse's collaboration with ANTI recording artist Tim Fite. Tim guided the recording process, which primarily took place in a barn in Columbia, NJ, with additional work in a high school auditorium in Blairstown, NJ, Tim's studio in Brooklyn and Wesleyan University's memorial chapel.
“My process in recording and performing has always been to follow spontaneous moments of inspiration...[but] Tim taught me how to make a record with care and patience, to put consideration and work into every single note until it is at the exact place where it needs to be, and to let those moments of spontaneous inspiration lead to even greater moments of total awareness and control.”
Over the past few years, The Wailing Wall has been joined live and on record by a diverse and lengthy list of co-conspirators, including members of and contributors to such bands as Camera Obscura, Titus Andronicus, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Pepi Ginsberg, Mountain Man, DeLeon, Dinowalrus, The So So Glos, Thanksgiving, The Grates and Wolf Colonel.
01 - Speak Not Its Name
02 - Bones Become Rainbows
03 - For C.M.R
04 - Dandelion
05 - Lame Situation
06 - Pineapple/Clarinet/Buffalo
07 - Fear No Apple, Fear No Flood
08 - "Song"
09 - ()
10 - Hands and Teeth
US SPRING TOUR
Mar 14 - Public Assembly w/ Horse’s Mouth, Duchampion, The Shade - Brooklyn, New York
Mar 31 - TT The Bear’s w/ Clare Burson - Cambridge, Massachusetts
Apr 1 - Union Hall w/ Charles Burst, Clare Burson - Brooklyn, New York
Apr 15 - The Blue Room, Sarah Lawrence College w/ Jason Anderson - Bronxville, New York
Apr 18 - Death By Audio w/ Lazarus, Tiger Saw, Unbunny - Brooklyn, New York
Apr 23 - Yale University Farm - New Haven, Connecticut
May 1 - The Troubador w/ Avi Buffalo, Voices Voices (Avi Buffalo Record Release Show!) - West Hollywood, California