A true lost classic from the Tel Aviv synth pioneer...

The phrase hidden gem, or lost classic, gets banded about all too much at the moment. It feels like anything that was unfairly slept on from 2019, even can be given one of these titles; so it is refreshing to find something from four decades ago that is still mostly unknown and totally captivating.

The album in question is ‘Ze’ by Raviv Gazit. Written in 1985 in the basement of the Tel-Aviv University using a Synclavier synth, the recordings that make up ‘Ze’ are a delicate blend of stark percussion with undulating melodies that propel the songs forward. ‘One’ is a prime example of this. The melody is jaunty and airy, but it’s the metallic percussion that draws you in.

The way Gazit composes is genuinely exciting. When the beat on opening track, ‘One And One’ kicks in it feels incredibly contemporary. Then there is that hypnotic beauty that bubbles just under the surface and out of earshot. Once you hear it, it is all consuming.

The majority of ‘Ze’ features buoyant arrangements with arid percussion lying just below warming synths, but on ‘Inquisition’ Gazit really ratchets up the tension. Given its title this is to be expected. Out of the gates Gazit hits us with a bombing sinister alarm. Crisp cascading motifs fall around us, but then just as soon as it starts, it stops.

The remainder of the track is woozy synths that create a feeling of discombobulation. It’s as if Gazit is taking us through the experience of being seized by the inquisition, undergoing their questioning and being left in a state of confusion, and possibly remorse, afterwards. Here Gazit is demonstrating that he can deliver something dripping in tension as well his usual playfulness.

‘11-8’ is another standout moment full of clapping hands and triumphant horns. Next to ‘Inquisition’ it sounds every more jubilant and inspiring. When listening to ‘Ze’ it’s hard to grasp just when it was made, as parts are reminiscent of Drew Neumann, Yello, and Rasia K. And this is the true wonder of ‘Ze’. Usually when listening to a ‘lost classic’ you are stuck by how it sounds like a product of its time, or how the productions feel slightly static or rigid, but on ‘Ze’ Gazit seems predicts musical trends that were set to dominate the next 30 years. His use of vacant beats and ornate melodies feels like a recent development, rather than something that was crated in the basement of an academic basement.

After ‘Ze’ was released Gazit released a slew of albums of his film work and new electronic compositions. These albums were built on the foundations of ‘Ze’ showing a progression in his sound and style. Around 2000 he appeared to go quiet, however, in 2012 he emerged again and has released 17 new tracks on his Bandcamp. These releases all exhibit the same charm demonstrated on ‘Ze’, but he was progressing with the times.

However, ‘Ze’ still feels like Gazit’s greatest achievement, still full of hope for the future, and it is the work that he should be remembered for.

8/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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