CD: Maor Appelbaum MAP002 [2004]

New Art - (3/5/1999)
Ambibass - (5/1/1999)
The Abyss - (17/8/1999)
26-Century Medicine - (6/2/2000)
Renewal Of The Mind - (20/5/2001)
The Fading - (1/8/2001)
Broken & Torn - (25/5/2000)
Rapid Eye Movement - (2/7/1999)
Ring My Bell - (4/3/2001)
No Way To Deny The Dream - (4/1/2000)
Blind - (15/7/2001)

There has been an recent boom (obscure pun intended) in underground electronica from Israel, a country known better in the past for its acid trance, with an excellent double-CD sampler and an article in The Wire for Tel Aviv's Zvuko Processor stable, and now a couple of new releases reaching these shores from Maor Appelbaum Productions. But while Zvuko - with which Appelbaum is associated through the Vultures - is a loose, musically-diverse artists' collective, Maor Appelbaum Productions is very much a conduit for its eponymous owner's creative outpourings, promoting and releasing three solo projects (see also my Screening review) and about half a dozen bands. Fortunately, once you get over our goatee'd techie's borderline self-obssession - portrait photos in the CD inlays, and CDDB entries preloaded with "MUSIC BY MAOR APPELBAUM" appended to each track name - there's actually a fair bit of raw creativity here.

"Monitoring The Blind" brings together eleven experimental workouts recorded between 1999 and 2001 and releases them under the Vectorscope name. Appelbaum's production style seems to result in all the tracks having a sort of lo-fi Krautrock-ish resonant depth, which is quite nice in this day and age of crystal-clear digital recording. Musically, they run from the warm ambience of opener "New Art", which brings to mind Scanner or Biosphere, via the rolling drum machines and chirping synths of 'Renewal Of The Mind', potentially a fine dancefloor number, to the psychedelic analog minimalism of 'Broken & Torn' - surely a misnomer for such a liquid track? At times it sounds a little like some of Coil's sessions with the ELpH, although the production is more reminiscent of their Fairlight experiments in the early days.

I have a soft spot for the kind of improvisational synth abuse that some people may find a little self-indulgent - but then what music isn't open to that accusation, especially experimental music? The fact that the sliding oscillators and LFO tweaking of 'Rapid Eye Movement' remind me of my own playing style might have helped endear this album to me. But Appelbaum's not just about navel-gazing and knob-twiddling, as the Pan Sonic-style rhythmic thunder of 'No Way To Deny The Dream' and the menacing industrial echoes of "The Fading" demonstrate. If you like your soundscapes droney, fluid and hypnotic, you could do much worse than Maor Appelbaum. You can almost forgive him for loving the sound of his own name so much.


[Vectorscope] / [Maor Appelbaum]

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