Fact By Fact Records
Israeli Experimental Music
Israel the band, Taapet, Gelbert
by Uri Shaham (April 2003)Any review of the Israeli independent music scene must begin with Jerusalem based Fact records. Fact was formed by Yoram Eliakim in August 1999 on the platform of the Jerusalem record shop Balance as an alternative for Jerusalem musicians who wanted to release small CD-R editions, avoiding bureaucracy and high expenses. At the same time, Fact started to release re-issues of ‘classic’ underground acts, which were unavailable for many years.
In its first period, Fact released almost any recording that was worth a small CD-R edition, some in not more than 20 copies. Later, when the rumor started to spread, and demos started to arrive, the label had to reduce its ideals to concentrate on its main artists. Fact still signed new artists but it was not as easy to get releases out as it was before.
It’s likely that the success of Fact was an example for music lovers all around the country. New labels and projects were being formed, using Fact’s ideas and example, doing it by themselves and for themselves. Fact also became a platform for those labels and projects who are able, through Fact’s website, to reach the audience and the press and also to sell their products.
Fact artistsGelbart- “In a perfect world, every time you pressed a button on a vending machine or hit a key on your leptop it would sound like Gelbart.” This is how Gelbart’s first album, my favorite vacation, is described at the Fact website. Adi Gelbart is behind this project, using analogue synthesizers and toy musical instruments. Gelbart draws us a special picture of a simple, friendly and naïve world that can be the right background to some modern fairytales.
Another Gelbart release is the Tokomon EP where he takes his own track and rips it off to another track and so on until the sixth track, an experiment with white noise that still carries the original fragments of the original “Tokomon.”
Taapet = a Jerusalem based duo who started with an idea of playing live electronic music, partly improvised partly carefully planned. In their field of abstract electronics, Taapet succeeds to point out a unique perception of reality and art. Their soundtrack to the 1919 German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr Calegari is a humorous but respectful treatment of the movie. Another interesting release is the live in Hertzlia museum CD where the duo used sounds that were recorded during the show at the crowd.
Their last release Taapet Sounds was recorded in a studio but remains loyal to the idea of live music. The album’s 45 mintues were edited from a one-take session of 70 mintues. The different tracks relate to each other with ideas and themes and together they add to a full, organic and warm piece. A Taapet related project is Ishay Adar & Binya Reches (the latter is half of the duo) Music from home, a six piece soundtrack for an exhibition that included music, sculpture and performance at the Biennale in Venice.
Israel - This experimental improvising music collective’s album from 1989 was Fact’s first release. They gave their self-titled album a provocative title- in Judaism, god’s name is strictly forbidden for improper use. For some people, it is really important. One of them was the owner of the studio where the album was created and the group had to record that word somewhere else. And calling their group ‘Israel,’ expressed the collective’s vision of an alternative Israel, a spiritual attentive, free of exploitation and deception, which follows the true human spirit and gives one the freedom to express himself in all the fields of their life. The album was created and recorded on live sessions in six days of winter 1989 and the result is a very interesting album of avant-garde experimentation and improvised rock.
For the second Israel release, the group called itself ‘Israel 2’ to show the difference from their earlier works. Israel 2 remains loyal to the original ideas of the group but musically, it is more influenced by electronica and dub.
A second Israel re-issue will soon be released by Fact. Luv was originally released in 1993 and was described by Yoav Kutner in Yedioth Ahronot (Israel's largest daily newspaper) as "a discussion of the question of our existence as a Jewish nationality and/or Israeli in this state, angry and painful songs dealing with the tension between Jews and Arabs, Secular and Religious, oppressors and oppressed. It is not easy to listen to these messages, especially because they are rapped up in hard uncompromising music, containing more angst or kick than a will to say something nice or 'artistic.' They are not nice and they don't want to be nice."
In discussing Israel, there are some related, recommended listenings:
- ‘Ahat 2 Kaze’ who used similar methods of improvisation and sampling- some of its members were also on ‘Israel’ (their first self-titled album was also re-issued by Fact and the others are planned to be re-issued in the future).
- ‘DJ E’ - the solo works of Eli Shargortzki from ‘Ahat 2 Kaze’ and ‘Israel 2’
- Ma’atz - members of Israel (from the Earsay label, which deserves its own article)
Tsuky - a sound engineer from Ramat Gan (a Tel Aviv subvert) who released four albums already. As a dedicated Can and Faust fan, Tsuky is creating a gloomy and melodic version of krautrock, by using both computers and acoustic instruments. Tsuky’s albums are always built from short pieces which combine to form a full journey.
Also worth checking: Gaza (techno with a global flavor), Zegunder (brain dance and smart drones), Plastik Venus (a re-issue of a ;90’s guitar noise act), Morphlexis and ‘Yuppies with Jeeps.’
March 2003 was supposed to be a new peak for the label- two compilations CD's were released, Fact By Fact 2 and Electronic Facts. The first is more indie rock orientated and the later is, as understood from its name, dedicated to electronic projects related to the label. About 60% of the tracks in both releases were new and the others appeared on older Fact releases.
On March 13th, the largest Fact even so far happened. The live acts played at three different venues in Tel Aviv: an electro-acoustic event, an indie rock one and an electro-hip-hop-dub night which went well into the weekend.
One week after that night, a disbandment annoucement was published.
As of March 21st, 2003, the FACT Records label will stop its activity. As of now, FACT Records will stop representing artists and release music.
This decision is not a shot in the dark or impulsive, but a responsible and calculated step. No, FACT Records is not in any debt or in some big distress, but the continuation of the activity in the form taken so far is not possible financially. Out of the will not to drag the label into artistic compromises and foreign interests in relation to the release of albums, in order not to change the artist's condition in the label and in order not to get into a financial distress with which I can not deal I have decided to close the label when it is full of activity and full of life and not in a state of gradual fading and loss of love of the making.
The FACT Records site will continue to function as an archive of the years in which the label worked (activity starting at the end of 1999), and the albums we released will continue to be sold securely through this site, the Balance store and Third Ear in Tel-Aviv. The Basement part of the web-site will continue to function under Omri Levy.
In the coming month and a half FACT Records will release to last titles, already ready, which are: a split-single by Finkelstein & Vultures and the second album by Morphlexis
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