Ran Slavin: The Wayward Regional Transmissions

Listening to Tel Aviv artist Ran Slavin's The Wayward Regional Transmissions, one inevitably is reminded of Sebastian Meissner's Random Inc. recordings Jerusalem: Tales Outside The Framework Of Orthodoxy (Ritornell, 2001) and Walking In Jerusalem (Mille Plateaux, 2002) (Slavin, whose CD-DVD release Insomniac City appeared on the resurrected Mille Plateaux last year, guests on Walking In Jerusalem and joined Meissner on Sub Rosa's Into The Void, also 2006). Like his colleague, Slavin uses digital tools to reconfigure radically the acoustic sounds of Middle Eastern music and its traditional folk materials. Given the wholly mediated character of the average Westerner's experience of the region, The Wayward Regional Transmissions comes across like a hyperreal travelogue through the Middle East with Slavin as one's personal Baudrillardian guide.

A lamentation played by Ahuva Ozeri on her three-steel string Indian instrument, the BulbulTarang, is heard in rather unaltered form on the opener “Village,” while Moshe Eliahu plays the Ud on “Jericho 6AM,” a ten-minute soundscape of remarkably evocative character. Drenched in textures of crackle and glitch, string instruments and humming bass tones drift throughout its dense mix slowly, suggesting a city opening its collective eyes to a new day. Each piece offers a different experience: “Kiosk in Furadis” teems with jubilant singing and dizzying rhythms, shuddering guitar patterns in “Shelters and Peace” liken it to a Klimek homage; and “Hagalil” closes the album in an hypnotic swirl of silken guitar loops. Throughout the fifty-minute collection, Slavin liberally shapes his material, highlighting its geographic associations at one moment and downplaying them the next. Perhaps the work's most captivating aspect is its omnipresent tension between the rooted character of the Middle Eastern sounds and the nomadic quality the electronic strategies bring to bear upon the material.

June 2007