Darkcho &mdash a band that makes strong, sparse holy music

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The voice emerges from the speakers with a quiver, as if the singer is squatting in a pool of cold water at the bottom of a well. But his voice is clear, as if you are in the well with him. The voice belongs to Jonathan Harkham, one half of the band Darkcho, which means “God’s way.”

He sings traditional Chassidic songs and biblical chants to melodies that feel ancient.

Then you notice the guitar, played by David Brook, which is coated in tremolo and reverb — the sound you hear on surf guitar albums, in the James Bond theme and on the soundtrack to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns.

The effect is a curious sense of dislocation — the Old Country mixed with a moody film-noir fog and a tinge of camp.

The new Darkcho CD isn’t about individual songs; it’s both moments and the overall effect that stay with you. The weary tone of the singer’s voice, the tentative trumpet lines, individual bits in which another instrument enters and comments on the previous passage. The whole disc is like a texture with individual bits that peek through.

These two young musicians have produced a remarkably emotional and distinct album out of sacred Jewish tradition. What would seem distant and/or self-righteous in other hands is palpable and bears a kinship to a particular strain of pop music.

It starts maybe with Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and becomes mature with the brief career of 1960s songwriter Nick Drake. Bands like Radiohead and Belle and Sebastian have picked up the same quality today.

What does this quality consist of? Lushness and simplicity, crushing a singer’s voice with strings and musical ornament into a tight diamond of sadness. A tone that sounds like crying, like falling asleep. The slow moments of a Samuel Beckett play — resignation.

Except mysticism is the motivation. The tracks are all simple — guitar, voice, trumpet, a bare rhythm of percussion — but feel dense with affect. What band have you ever heard of that has a manifesto like this:

“To paraphrase a Chassidic discourse by the Rebbe Rashaab, ‘When a person sees something that is beautiful to behold, he gets excited, gets affected in the very essence of his soul. He has a great amount of pleasure, much more than the pleasure of intellect. When a person understands any intellectual concept, it cannot be compared at all to the amount of pleasure he gets from seeing something visually. His whole essence is drawn toward that which he is beholding.’ And the same thing is true for any of the five senses.”

Are the members of Darkcho emoting out of a sense of wonder? A sense of sadness over the omnipotence of God? Loss over the rape of Jewish culture in Europe, the voices channeling the dead?

It is strange to encounter art in any form that marries the worlds of pop and high spirituality. But it is also odd to encounter religious Jewish art that resonates on so many levels.

The CD case demonstrates the ineffable qualities of the music. Against a background like a brown paper bag, lyrics in English and Hebrew are scrawled in a kind of delirious, tight, small script at all angles. Scribbles and smudges lie alongside the pressurized writing. It feels like the words are black dust that will be blown away in a wind.

You have to squint to make out some of the words. When you do, you are rewarded with profound, earnest declarations of faith and struggle: “My soul desires your shelter to know all your mystery.”

Darkcho declares their faith as a kind of anti-gospel: not with a roar, but a mighty quiver.

Darkcho can be ordered on the Web at www.darkcho.com or by mail at Pappi-1 Studios, 269 Beverly Dr., Suite 614, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.