A showcase for new music from Israel, Tel Aviv Aftermath is a mixed bag of noise, industrial, electronic and avant-garde music which, although at times it wallows in self-indulgence, at others has the power to intrigue and to captivate. The minute’s silence “for the memory of all those who violently lost their lives in the Middle East conflict, except those who took other lives while losing theirs” would be the collection’s low point, were it not succeeded by an utterly dreadful seventeen minute live improvisation by an underground supergroup calling themselves The Crossfishes. This is a shame, as the nine preceding pieces are all pretty much OK – and none better than the New Jerusalem Defense Forces’ ‘Make Law’, a bitter slab of grinding power electronics that appears to be punctuated by the sound of a nearby firefight. Never mind that NJDF personnel Igor Krutogolov and Vadim Gusis also work out with the aforementioned Crossfishes (as well as both having good individual tracks on the compilation), they also find time to contribute to the wonderfully weird ”The Golden Skull’, as backing group to Vera Agnivolok, a singer capable of raising the hairs on the back of anybody’s neck. The other standout track is VectorScope’s ‘No Way To Deny The Dream’, which, with its pounding industrial rhythm through as swirling soup of synth sounds, had me in mind of the Aphex Twin, c.1993. New label, interesting material, worth a listen.
STEWART GOTT – 8 August 2002
All Music Guide
The first release from the Israeli label Topheth Prophet was, as is often the case for small independent labels, a compilation album of local talents. But behind the two handfuls of acts featured on Tel Aviv Aftermath hide only a few artists, namely Igor Krutogolov (aka Igor18), Vadim Gusis (aka Chaos as Shelter and HU), Maor Appelbaum (aka Screening and VectorScope), and Ant Weiss (aka Forma). All of them plus a couple more musicians get together as the Crossfishes for the final 17-minute live performance. The music ranges from pensive electronics (Grundik and Slava’s opening piece) to experimental electroacoustics (HU’s “The Helmet,” in which Gusis explores the spiritual energy of a helmet by playing it, dixit his liner notes), to harsh noise (New Jerusalem Defense Forces, a duo of Krutogolov and Gusis). Some tracks are unremarkable chunks of experimental drone/noise, but there are some stunning contributions. Igor18 and Chaos as Shelter’s solo tracks live up to the quality of their full-length collaborations (with Tidal and Bastard Noise, to name but two). Agnivolok’s song — yes, song, actually a litany — provides a moment of quiet beauty: gripping voice, simple accordion, very tasteful arrangements, a clear standout track. After a minute of silence (a cry for peace coupled to a political stance) comes the Crossfishes track. If anything, the first three quarters of the album announce that gathering all these musicians on the same stage could result in thundering chaos. On the contrary, the piece is rather quiet and very disciplined (I don’t think the six improvisers ever play all at once), dominated by repetitive motifs and Weiss’ disembodied wails. Tel Aviv Aftermath is not an essential album, but it offers a nice occasion to get acquainted with the Israeli experimental underground. ~ François Couture, All Music Guide
To my surprise I received a cd out of Israel, a country of which you usually only hear news related to the tragic conflict with their Palestinian neighbours. My musical encounters with Israel are mostly confined to their contributions to the Eurovision Song Contest. So I was pleasantly suprised to find out that there is an interesting experimental/industrial scene in Israel. On “Tel Aviv Aftermath”, of which the artwork shows a militant and apocalyptic style, are ten different acts compiled. Of these I have only heard music of Chaos as Shelter in the past. The booklet of the compilation is quite nice and informative, with background info about all the performing artists.
Grundik-Slava, a long-time collaboration between two composers/sound artists, gives us a experimental electronic composition, which is rather strange and inacessible, reminding a little of old krautrock. The music of New Jerusalem Defence Forces sounds just as threatening as their name: a noisy powerful wall of sound, extreme frequencies and harsh distorted vocals. Igor18, a solo project of Igor Krotolov who is also involved in the previous act, brings us to experimental territories again, with distant voices, an unorthodox treated bass and strange effects as the main ingredients. Chaos as Shelter contribute an estranging soundscape, lead by ongoing drones and a sampled female voice. I quite like the track ‘Outlaw’ by Screening. According to the booklet the music of this act is solely created by (manipulated) bass guitars. the song has an ‘ethnic’, meditative feel.
The song of Forma is called ‘ma bella chaotique’ and indeed it sounds like a chaotic, randomly created composition. Another interesting soundscape is contributed by HU, with tools as sand, cellow bow, hands and a wood hammer. After this tranquil piece comes the beat-driven track by VectorScope as a surprise. A nice micture of monotonous industrial rhythms and floating, atmospheric electronic layers. Another highlight is ‘The Golden skull’ by Agnivolok, a wonderful traditional folk song, reminding me of street musicians from eastern Europe which I sometimes hear, with a melancholic and nostalgic feel. It also has something of the ritual aspect of Hagalaz Runedance. A variety of traditional instruments is used, and the female singer has a peculiar but not unpleasant voice. The last track is a very long and chaotic live improvisation by various underground musicians under the name of The Crossfishes, but in my opinion not one of the most memorable tracks on the album.
This compilation is certainly an interesting and varied showcase of the Israeli experimental music scene, which seems to be quite lively. Musically there a few quite nice contributions, overall “Tel Aviv aftermath” is quite hard to digest though. This is also the debut release of the label Topheth Prophet, it will be interesting to follow what they will be up to in the future. The mood on the album is dominantly quite grim, which is perhaps not so surprising in view of the political climate in the Middle-East. The most direct reference to the conflict is of course the ‘One Minute Silence’, ‘for the memory of all those who violently lost their lives in the Middle East conflict, except those who took other lives while losing theirs’.