2CD-R, Zvuko Processor, 2004
It’s not often, in these days of polished electronica and abrasive noisebeat, that you get to hear a release with tubas, oscillator abuse, accordions, computer game themes, electric guitars, drum machines, folk songs, distorted power-electronics ranting, glockenspiels (or are they xylophones??), electro, mute trumpets, didgeridoos, analog synth fetishism and angelic female vocals on the same CD. And hearing more than four or five of those on the same track is even more remarkable, especially delivered with the kind of tongue-in-cheek sense of humour that’s lacking in much of today’s scene-bound underground music, and which helps hold the whole thing together despite its remarkably disparate ingredients.
Think jazz, think punk attitude, then think of anything else that comes to mind, as the BBC’s “Mixing It” famously said of Nurse With Wound once. This is not so much industrial as lo-fi surrealist experimentalism, and is indicative of a very healthy leftfield music scene in Israel that I’d previously been unaware of myself. Not that everything here is lacking in frame-of-reference to ears trained on Western electronics of course. There is a period at the end of disc two where Seventeen Migs Of Spring (great name!), eKran, S.T.A.Z.Z. and Synthetic Dark could almost fool you into thinking you were listening to something on Hive Records or Frozen Empire Media. Meanwhile on disc one the Vultures unleash a cathartic noise assault that falls somewhere between Brighter Death Now and Neurosis, Chaos As Shelter and djrED.I treat us to dreamlike swathes of dark ambience, and Penetrating Crankshaft take us on a fifteen minute mutant-techno journey through inner space that takes me back to endless sprawling sessions in club chill-out rooms in my psy-trance days.
But there is plenty here that has few analogs in anything else I’ve heard before, and it’s during these moments of inspired oddity, some as short as forty seconds or so, that you really know you’re in foreign parts. Take Stephan Friedman, appearing here as Antiochus, Ulican and Faces of Death, and treating us to three different schizoid glimpses into his psyche in the process — one of which is wrapped cheekily in Stockhausen-esque mockeries of the old Soviet National Anthem and packed with crazy bongo drums, for example. Or The Man With Tea Gum, who sounds like a Russian cartoon chicken let loose in a care-in-the-community street party with a crack pipe and the lungs to match. Or Igor18, whose spastic jazzy outbursts have to be heard to be believed. On the other hand, Modelo Para Armar’s heavenly “Zgaraamba” sounds like robots programmed for dub — but badly in need of a good debugging. Lovely stuff and totally without precedent in my experience of music.
You’ve got to hand it to Zvuko Processor. Twenty-five tracks for ten dollars, many of which are by bands you’ll never have heard of but will instantly like, and they’ll ship it anywhere on Earth for free — that’s only about the cost of three pints of beer in a central London pub. And there’s plenty of freebies on their website just there forthe taking too. Unless you’re as snobbishly, elitistly eclectic as I am, there’s a very good chance that you’ll find one or two of the artists on the roster deeply irritating, but if you’re lucky, then even those will bring a smile to your face. And a final note: they’re looking for donations of hosting space so they can make more videos available for download. Contact them via the website if you can help.
— Andrew Clegg