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Album cover

Ahvak - Ahvak

Artist: Ahvak
Title: Ahvak
Label: Cuneiform Records RUNE 185
Length(s): 53 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2004
Month of review: [04/2004]

Line up

Yehuda Kotton - guitars
Ishay Sommer - bass
Udi Susser - keyboards, woodwinds, vocals, baglama, darbooka
Roy Yarkoni - keyboards, piano
Dave Kerman - drums, percussion
Udi Koomran - computer

Tracks

1) Vivisection 8.28
2) Bertha 8.22 MP3
3) Moments 2.36
4) Dust 16.20
5) Cement 2.49
6) Yawners 13.27
7) Ironworks 0.55

Samples of Ahvak appear here by kind permission of Cuneiform Records.

Summary

Dave Kerman has a history of recording and playing in Israel and working there with Udi Koomran. This time, Kerman participates on a record by the Israelian band Ahvak.

The music

Vivisection opens with interesting sound effects, is this Koomran programming? The sound is extremely transparent, especially when you have headphoners on. Then all sonorous details are revealed, although the first few listens, not everything may impinge on your conscious mind. The overall sound is light but hasty, with plenty of dissonance and a strong focus on the use of typical instruments, such as woodwinds and plenty of percussion. This gives the music more of a world music feel. Smack in the middle, the pace goes out of the song, and we get some experiments in sound, like the one which opened the track. There is a sound for instance of a swing which has not been oiled in some time, kind of like a hazy childhood memory. In places the music is very Crimson inspired, the same kind of tenseness (and I am thinking mostly of the modern Crimson), except that the band continues to be on the light side. The chamber music feel stays dominant, and even the music does become more up-beat at times, it is hard for me to think of it as rock music.

Bertha is strange in that it combines a shrill trumpet like sound and something akin a banjo among the menacing, dissonant pacey RIO sound. In the intermezzo, the piano takes over and we hear a film spool running. The follow-up is dominated by keyboards, in which the melodies are more like tunes. Finally, the pace goes up again, with some nice percussively played piano, frantic like music for comical cartoons.

With Moments we enter a sparser area, in which occasional piano and flute are the main players (and even they do not play so much). After this short track we arrive at the title track, which translates from Hebrew as Dust. It opens with slow percussion, primordial. The guitar reverberates in the back (well, it sounds a bit like a guitar), while up front a flute and various sound effects play around. This part is mainly atmosphere. Then the pace and form stays the same, but the music is louder and more fleshed out. Reverberating sounds give the song a very special characters. Quick melodic piano runs come in as the music starts to work itself into a frenzy, albeit a shortlived one. Do not think however that is the last of the frenziness that we have heard, because they return with a vengeance later. I guess I tend to go for these climactic orgies of sound, where the complex lines are integrated and more fluently march on by. There are even some vocals on this one, but only little and quite warped. The spirit of Crimson is restless in this very dynamic track which goes from chaos to silence and constancy in a split second.

Cement is another shorty, with what seems to be one of 'unknown' instruments in occasional lead. The electric guitar also plays along here, but it stays a bit fragmented, yet tuneful.

Yawners is the final substantial track, and although I could go in detail about it, it features the same ingredients as the foregoing, with a tendency for the tuneful, with a strong element of playfulness. Around the ten minute mark we have more menace and more power, with the flute dominating.

Ironworks is the first short closer, mainly sounds of a sort.

Conclusion

If you like Dave Kerman's own work, you are sure to like Ahvak. There are some differences, and it took me longer to get into Ahvak, than it did to get into Kerman's 5UU's, but the rewards are there. Ahvak introduces a more in the way of woodwinds and folk instruments, which tend to give it a more world like feel in places. On the other hand, the music is as complex as we expect music in the RIO vein to be, with plenty of thought of atmosphere and a large amount of 'tunefulness' (which you may contrast with melodious). A good alternative while we wait for the new 5UU's and likely enough even longer for the next Thinking Plague.

© Jurriaan Hage