Riding a Tiger Called Feedback

Musician Aviad Albert taped his concert audience and used the sounds in his show. Tonight at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv, he will improvise the sound track for a film made in the West Bank.

Sagi Bin Nun
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Sagi Bin Nun

Aviad Albert (known as Finkelstein), 27, from Jerusalem, feels something is missing from the electronic music he composes. "One of the problems with electronic music is the empty visual space," he explains. "An electronic music artist, who stands behind the instruments, is missing the show element. In contrast, a rocker with a guitar standing in the front of the stage can make an impression during his concert even if he plays terribly. That's why my appearances in some of the projects I've been involved in try to fill in the visual void."

Such a connection - between electronic music and the visual medium - can be seen tonight in a show Albert is doing together with three colleagues (Eran Sachs, Niv Hakhlili and Ariel Efron) as part of the Ultra Sound series at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv. The show, called "Yannon, Yannon" (a paraphrase of the film, "Jenin, Jenin") will combine improvised electronic music with screenings of videos that document the fight between the Palestinian population and residents of Judea and Samaria. Left-wing activists, including Albert himself, shot the film.

The performance, he says, "somewhere in between video art and a dramatic film, tries to tell the shared story of two different places. Some of the people who have seen it got confused and didn't realize that it was referring to two different places and events that are not necessarily in chronological order. We allowed ourselves to manipulate the situation by mixing up photos because this film doesn't presume to be a documentary. However, we relate a true story - the story of the small villages."

The only musical instruments to be used in the show are two mixers. Sachs will use an analog mixer that is not fed by any outside sources and is known as a no-input mixer (it is not connected to a computer, sampler or synthesizer). The only thing the mixer can do is produce independent feedbacks. The feedbacks will be relayed to the digital mixer Albert will use and he will work with them in real time by playing with the reverb effect, changing tempos and cutting off beats. "Instead of spinning discs, musical instruments or samples, we play feedback," says Albert. "It's almost a mission impossible and it can be described using the image commentators attributed to Yasser Arafat's attempts to control the intifada - `riding on the back of a tiger.' Just like Arafat, I'm trying to control something that is too wild - the feedback. It's difficult, but challenging."

Albert was formerly a member of Tafet, which he set up with Benaya Rekhes. The group released four albums, which received good reviews, under the Pact label. The two created avant-garde electronic music and did concerts in museum spaces. In some of the shows, a microphone was planted in one of the statues in the Herzliya Museum and it recorded the audience unaware. The recordings were used in the show in real time and also were used in some of the group's albums. Tafet also did the sound track for the silent movie "Dr. Caligary's Cabinet," at the prompting of the Jerusalem Cinematheque. Albert also participated in "the electronic front" project.

Recently he independently released a solo album called "The Art of Escapism," in which he also uses Israeli political material. The album, which features such techniques as dub, instrumental hip-hop and "the world of digital images," according to him, has messages "that have been toned down in comparison to the blunt messages in the "Yannon, Yannon" although they still leave a sharp impression.

In the segment "Freedom and Oppression," for example, Albert turns to the escapist Israeli with critical words: "You're not good, you're not honest," and "you've become blinded." In the segment "Group Zionism" he aims his arrows at the settlements and according to him, "the songs draws a parallel between rape and the settlement enterprise." In addition, he joins the fight of those protecting the environment ("from the middle of the architects' maze, you don't see the sunrises/ only monumental sunsets that make the streets look grand), and supports the anti-globalization movement in a segment with the long and amusing name: "if all the countries were pro-American, where would all the good drugs come from." "`The good drugs' are a symbol of something else," he explains, "something that goes beyond Christian neo-liberal conservatism."

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