Various Artists

Tel Aviv Aftermath

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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.

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