Improv@halas.am by Yiftah Kadan
Experimental Israel is an ongoing research project by Dr. Ophir Ilzetzki. In 2016, supported by Mifal Ha'Pais and the Israeli Center for Digital Art, Ilzetzki was commissioned by Daniel Meir and Halas Radio to create an original radiophonic study centred around contemporary Israeli music. As a composer identifying stylistically as experimental, Ilzetzki chose to focus on other Israeli artists who are, in some way, identified with experimentalism. In the two official years of research, Ilzetzki met weekly with prominent figures in the Israeli new music scene - composers, improvisers, sound and multi-media artists. With them, Ilzetzki ruminated in unofficial conversations regarding the main research questions. Yet, Ilzetzki prompted the artists not only to tackle the research questions via interviews, but also artistically; and so, Experimental Israel became one of the most extensive call for new works in Israeli music to date.
The main research questions are: How does experimentalism manifest in its artistic form, and specifically music; does the Israeli experimental practice differ from that practiced abroad, and is it possible to detect a distinct Israeli style? Despite its conclusions, the research does not attempt to suggest definite answers, but to place the opaque and widely used term in a clearer context. Since the early 90s, a bustling new music scene is active in Israel, bringing together artists of different genres. Today, these same musicians have already taken their rightful place in the international music scene, making them a fertile ground for queries such as raised by this research. Accordingly, and seeing the research could serve musicians worldwide, Ilzetzki makes sure to summarise each of its interviews into a short article in English. Each article includes the main focal points of the interview, a chronological reconsideration of the fixed research questions, as well as a look at those added during the course of research. Seeing the Israeli experimental scene is constantly growing, and hence, in flux, this research does not, and truly cannot, have a definite conclusion. Therefore, even after its official course has ended, Ilzetzki continues to add new voices to the research archive, so as to expose and clarify the topic even further. In fact, in its inception, the research was introduced as ongoing, and it is our hope that future researchers will refer to it, and continue its course. Thus, at any given moment in time, the research will serve as an up-to-date 'screen-shot' of the constantly developing Israeli experimental scene.
Experimental Israel is broadcast live from Halas Audio. All interviews, alongside interview summaries, are available in this archive. The programs are also available for download on Spotify.
Experimental Israel was made possible due to the kind support of Mifal HaPais Council for the Culture and Arts, and the Israeli Center for Digital Art.
Things Other People Say
Amongst ourselves (that is, Daniel Meir and I) we’ve agreed that the Halas studio is magic! Not in the Disney/fairytale kind of way – it literally is magic. Things sound better there, good things happen there… pretty exclusively. Well, the studio is currently undergoing cosmetic surgery, which posed a problem as to where Yiftah Kadan would record his set. Coming to the studio on the Sabbath was lovely – all was quiet in Holon. Kadan commented on the children literally playing with sticks and stones, saying it was like ‘the old days’. And it really did feel that way – things moved slowly (or was it the hummus we had just had for lunch). We toured the building for a suitable recording spot, but as soon as Kadan saw our stripped down studio, he said: “here”. Fitted with what will soon become its control room, the Halas studio had a window opening into yet another empty concrete space – two echoing chambers creating quite a harsh room tone. Kadan’s intuition to mic the ‘control room’ chamber proved itself brilliantly, and we eventually found ourselves creating the natural reverb that distinguishes this recording. Magic.
Like Ram Gabay just a few days before him, Yiftah Kadan deliberated regarding being interview. And like Ram Gabay he too decided against it. After having heard Gabay’s set last Tuesday, I must admit to have been a bit apprehensive for our following guest. I mean it’s a hard act to follow a one-hour+ site-specific musical saga. But in the same manner that Gabay’s set was very much a dooming Tuesday, Kadan’s was a glorious Saturday. I haven’t heard Kadan play many times before, hence was not sure what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect this! As if painting the mood we were already in, he embarked on what I referred to as a noon raga. Sitting behind a plastic sheet shielding our studio equipment, I could only half guess what it was Kadan was doing to make his setup sound the way it did. But I soon succumbed and completely let myself go into his journey, which I felt was a journey I could have wanted to describe as well. Any person who’s experienced this feeling of having someone speak your words with their voice, knows that these are moments of true exhilaration. Such moments strengthen my conviction most – that despite all words said, spontaneous music was and still is the epicentre of this research. And what are these moments if not? Magic.
Improv@halas.am by Yiftah Kadan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.