review page

Ahvak ('04)
Gadi Caplan ('11;'13)
Hot Fur ('05)
Mr.Toad ('03)
Quetev Mereri ('08,'11)
Sanhendrin ('11)
Sympozion ('07)
Trespass ('01)
Alon Nechustan ('11)

on different pages : 
Asquelon Quilt, Goldoolins, Michel Sajrawy
Habrera Hativit/Natural Gathering, Balkan Beat Box,...)

MIO Rec.     Mr.Toad : Trench Art (2003)****

The Italian prog scene in the 70's adapted the best of what became a popular symphonic style in Italy with English groups like Genesis, Gentle Giant and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The Italian musicians themselves had a rich education of classical music, especially from the Italian and Vienna scenes. This even developed the symphonic style into something entirely unique (with a clarity in structure as one of the most typical aspects). In countries like Argentine and Venezuela they developed something similar, with a bit more attention to acoustic guitar, with an extra warmth typical for Latin America. Best examples from there are style not so widely known.

In Israel Mr.Toad gives another example of how a group with a classical training can develop into a unique and spontaneous well developed style, having the intelligence of a chamber orchestra, the warmth of the best prog pop examples, with spontaneity in the playing. This has something from the flavour of the late symphonic scene (Anthony Philips,..) could have developed into, if it only had had all conditions, like this group seems to have : (soundfile). 

In this way their achievement stands as far as I know completely on its own. They have a full developped sound. The few songs are warm and gentle. The elements of acoustic guitar, with some classical themes are well adapted. The arrangements, also with drums, flute, wind instruments are all subtle but strong. Only on the last track they burst into a Flairck like light chamber-jazzfolk chamber trip outro. A strong conclusion for a highly recommended release. 

Label entry (with sounds):
Other review :

Musea Rec.                  Trespass : In Haze of Time (2001)**°'

This group consists of Gabriel Weissman (originally born in Rumania): melodically precise rock drums, Roy Bar-Tour : hofner bass guitar, who learned from hearing Yes bass guitarist Chris Squire and Gil Stein : keyboards, whose playing reminds me at some 70's symphonic rock players from various groups. His style in fact is a mixture between the style of keyboards used with The Nice (Keith Emerson), Gentle Giant, and some other groups. Gil however never heard these groups before recording this album, so his personal style developed spontaneously and therefore sound such a fresh combination of these particular influences we recognize.
The group's name "Tresspass" reminds most people at the second album of Genesis (-with Peter Gabriel, still without Phil Collins-), an artifact in pop music, as being one of the first albums with a subtle symphonic character. The style of the group has no specific reference to that album. The name Trespass means three steps in latin (tres passus). The name was chosen because they are a three piece band and the word meaning in english should say something about their music. It is instrumental progressive rock, leading towards melodic neo progressive playing, talented enough for being a mixture of self-creation remniscent of past symphonic hard rock groups (Queen, Rush ?,..), and more melodic progressive groups (Yes,..), but with even some jazzy improvisation touches now and then.

The first track is defined as a rockoperetta and starts with very melodic neoprogressive synthesiser/drums continuations. Being sung, with unclear reasons we hear "watch out for the creatures of the night". Such at first hearing inconsequential phrases were used more often by 70's hard rock groups, giving more attention to the symbol of the content being sung about. The organ player shows his full talent (at times very "Nice" like), but somewhat overdone too. The keyboardplayer Gil Stein had send this written piece before for a Scholarship for Berkeley College in Boston. 

After that track the playing is less done for its melodic content but is a more constructed and well balanced with tracks that contain both song and larger instrumental parts.  Occasionally the flute is heard a few times and gives the music an extra depth. Drumming / keyboards / bass work perfectly together and various moments give the impression of a blowing live energy.

An interesting group for those who would like to hear a combination of various 70's instrumentally dominated progressive music done with crafted musicians and for the keyboards described.

Contact :
Israeli page :
Other reviews : & &
Review at 1 okt 2002 :
Dutch review :

Cuneiform Rec.        Ahvak : Ahvak (2004)***°

Ahvak is a new Israeli band where the two first members (bassist Ishay Sommer, who also recorded bass with a death-metal band ?!, and keyboardist Roy Yarkoni, who also recorded solo work with computer based electronic music), had formed before the symphonic band Verdun. With two additional members (Yehuda Kotton, guitar, and Udi Susser, -beside psychiatrist, is a conservatory trained composer, and who plays here woodwinds and keyboards, baglama, darbooka, also released various tapes of keyboard based progressive rock) the band was renamed to Ahvak meaning "dust". Drummer Dave Kerman (5 UU's, Present, U Totem, Blast) was impressed by their first studio work and decided to move to Israel to join the band.  They took the best producer available and creative to a typical RIO styled band Udi Koomran (who had produced 5 UU's and Present before). They worked hard during 2003 and succeeded in giving this release a very mature finish.

The results is complex descriptive compositions, which are in a typical RIO style, very much in the footsteps of Univers Zero, 5 UU's and Present. We hear colourful and very varied storytelling kind of contemporary and semi-classical compositions, dark, slightly dense in tension, somewhat theatre like in evolution, well-produced, and consistent. In general the music is very "intellectual" but still very spontaneous in its playing. The title track has something more composed and improvised at the same time, and has a tendency, perhaps especially rhythmically, to change balance towards something more "powerful". The penultimate track is a bit filmic with sounds of a funfair, and concentric rhythms. The complete score is just good as it is. Recommended to those who like Thinking Plague, U Totem, Art Bears, Present, Univers Zero.

Audio : "Vivisection"
Info (with soundfile) :
Other review :
Live pictures :

Musea Rec.Hot Fur  (IS,rec.1998/iss.2005)**''

This is a strong progressive rock release with some light humorous feeling especially on “Adventure in Space” within some R.I.O. style influence. This arranged feeling is light fluent as with a jazzy rock flavour. It is especially calm, spinning and filmic on a track like "Johnny Baby's Nightmare". I also recognised at least some Genesis influenced arrangements in the keyboards and guitars on "Moon". Further we have some trumpet arrangements, adding a again different flavour. Many tracks are song orientated, but strong arrangements are all over the place, without ever any necessary hurry in the performance. The female vocals on a few songs are sweet and bring in its turn the seriousness of some arrangements pleasantly to a lighter sphere. The slightly operatic vocals on "Heretz" give this track a classical touch. "5 Camels" is another example of a track with very serious guitar solo's and improvisations where the rhythms contribute a more funky lightness. Hot Fur seriously has a good compromise between the serious arranging and lighter pleasant spheres. Last track, "Tomatoes" has a kind of light and groovy, funky jazzrock structure with some more great electric guitar improvisation.

Hot Furs is Lior Frenkel, guitars, voice, synths, Nadav Bachar, guitars, Shaul Eshet, keyboards, Oran Ben Avi, sax, Lior Ron, trumpet & flute Ben Hendler, bass, Erez Koskas, drums, Yael Kraus, vocals, Noa Frenkel, alto singer on “Heretz” and Sagi Shutrit, voice on “The End of the play”.

Homepage (with audio & funny video clip) :
Info : http:// 
Record label entry :
Live pictures :

Unicorn Rec.Sympozion : Kundabuffer (IS,rec.2006,re.2007)****'

Sympozion released this album privately before, but now on a (real) label it is also more properly distributed. It seems that they delivered here a real masterpiece because they master very much their style(s). With each track and even within it there is lots of variation, and still it hangs together very logically. Their fundament is intelligent composition, which is to some degree progressive rock, but with partly a new classical music complexity, with mathematical precision, almost like with counting the melodic themes in triplets, quadruplets or octets, while the fundamental structure, with a different preciseness keeps evolving into different themes. Some passages like these lead to more progressive rock freedom, partly improvisation, led by keyboards or guitars, or lead suddenly to song, to jazzrock freedom or even once, to a more avant-garde passage. No matter how complex they are, the band succeeds to keep an almost visible composition score, with a clarity which makes even the most complex part light enough to give great attentive pleasure. 

* What is kindabuffer ? A small philosophical essay on the theme on next page.

Homepage : & with audio : 
Intro on band :
Info & audio :
Other reviews :
German review :
Dutch review :
Interview :

About the meaning of 'Kundabuffer' :

Alma MusicQuetev Meriri (IS,2008)***°/****

Quetev Mereri has a rather unusual musical approach for an Israeli band, and has a special form of a style of their own. I will try to describe what happens on the album...

Already on the first track, “Walter Benjamin”, an electrified guitar improvises calmly in Middle Eastern scale with some small outsider-avant garde-melodic contraventions (or deviations), losing its usual ‘traditional approach’ to become something different and partly like free music, while droning sound explorations based upon guitar drones participate along. This partial free music mode keeps a recognisable moody improvisation within reach of the normal and recognisable with some patterns. 
On the second track, “Jacob’s Frank”, an accordion improvises, with additional guitar, and with one voice hummingly improvising, and another, semi-Demetrio Stratos vocal experiment, with higher tones, nose-screaming along (anaoidedly). A guitar rhythm, with bass qualities, in the meanwhile, takes care of a one note rhythm. Then, the lead voice, after its introduction, begins to sing for real (with lyrics) (with some touches of a subtle ghostly background sound and the breathing of a voice), before evolving with emotional strength and with increasing tension, along with the oscillating string in the background, building up the tension. Other distorted guitars thoroughly increase with it this tension, forming through it a rather ‘psychedelic’ mood, with electrified and distorted guitars vibrating rhythmically, on the endless focus of the song. The electric guitars (with one odd keyboard chord) hum and improvise further on the created mood to an instrumental conclusion for this 15 minute track (which was called “Seeds”). Also this track unfolds to the next one, “Franz Rosenzweig”, (on bass electric guitars, found percussion on something close to cymbals, and on thin metal objects), another improvisation between the recognisable, in Middle Eastern scale and with psychedelic effect, and with the same free avant-garde touches of anormalities, while keeping the middle eastern improvisation leading. A few odd keyboard chords improvisations to it seem vaguely to refer to a different area, while once more moody guitar droning chords and bells-like percussion are also added into the background. Also “Emanuel Levin” after that is a Middle Eastern improvisation, a rather independently working duet of electric oud and guitar (into more bass sounds and with some reverb). On top of that there’s a fitting vocal improvisation, cut in and out. 
Last track, “Dispersed City”, is a sad song, like a Middle Eastern cry (or complaint), with a second background voice like a more abstract cry, while guitars accompany slowly, with an hypnotically calm improvisation, ending with an instrumental part, this became pretty comparable to how the album started.

Homepage with audio :
See also : ; next album->

Alma MusicQuetev Meriri : (IS,2011)****'

When I listened to the new album of Quetev Meriri, I realised this wasn’t just an experiment, an improvisation or jam or some kind of weirdness, the group really is defining and forming a different language in their improvisation. In a way this still is the expression of a song concept, even though the elements are unsual, -in fact everything is just a little unusual. The words are in Hebrew. First with just the sound of water in the background, these backgrounds become like a resonating space full of echoing percussive vibrations that built up with the inner visions and object in the middle of it, the singing becomes surreal, a sort of cry into space and time, the electric guitars resonate and whine with it, like animals with its master. Trembling rhythms on piano, on guitar follow, chord by chord,  and still is clearly a song expression. And songs also truly appear. Some guitars are bowed, some accordion appear, some electronics even, all expressing the same spatial accompaniment for this arc of cries, away from this world.  A distorted guitar drone, some free piano improvises, returning moans in chords. The voice becomes deformed into something else and then returns. This new language reminded me of two former experiments in history : the experimental poetry with sounds by Fikret Kizilok (Turkey) on “Not Defterimden” and Shlomo Gronich’s Why didn't you tell me ? bonus tracks with the Kafka play, both examples of poetry penetrating in the dark. It is a surreal expression because it finds its own voice like a sound, an energy of sound and music. Very good ! 

This review was done while listening shortly to a download. After having listened to the real album I will give it another try and add some more remarks.

Homepage with audio :
Band info :
AltrockProd.Sanhedrin : Ever After (IS,2011)***°

Sanhedrin started with a huge interest in 70s prog, in names like Pink-Floyd, Camel, Gentle-Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, Jethro-Tull, King-Crimson and Genesis. They started as a Camel cover band, but after a short while they began to write their own material, in symphonic prog style. The works on this album fits very well with that old generation. Here we have a large composition in parts more or less in one, often melodic, flow, with use of guitars, organ, texturing keyboards, and flute improvisations / arrangements. The sound is strong, often relaxed harmonious and the changes are entertaining. Just one small track, a more serious acoustic guitar composition intermezzo with two guitars is more different from the rest. In the last track I have noticed a small Pink Floyd hint. Elsewhere the later symphonic prog period of the bigger UK symphonic bands are somewhat related to this new band's sound.

Info & audio : &
Label info :

PS. About the word Sanhedrin :

private pressing     Gadi Caplan : Opposite Views (IS/US,2011)****

This is definitely the work of a guitarist, improvising in the expanded styles inspired directly or more vaguely from jazz and R&B in a much larger open structure and with additional arrangements of altosax and chamber music instruments this becomes having a large progressive symphonic music context. The guitar plays relaxed, first rocking, then with jazz guitar, R&B guitar, with one 50s song with radio voice in it, and then picking, always very relaxed in what he’s doing with some nice harmonies to the arrangements, the treatment gives the unpretentious improvisation still some convincing grandeur, another level. At some stage near the end an electric viola takes over the role of the guitar. 

Info & audio :
Descriptions : & ; next-->

private pressing     Gadi Caplan : Look Back Step Forward (US,2013)***°

Gadi Capan’s second release hangs into jazz-rock areas, still the tracks give the impression of compact ideas, recognisable melodies and structure. The arrangements are very strict in rhythm and despite references to pop music (starting with the tune of The Beatles famous Indian track on track 4), allowing a small hint towards funk or lying closer to the mood of blues-rock, allowing electric guitar improvisation, a more complex Middle Eastern rhythm, well played by the drums, a creative and moody acoustic guitar intro (track two), or a cleverly surprising classical music ending after the violin led a part, in a way the creative impact seems to be bound by memory, perhaps all that Gadi Caplan or even the band has heard before and in a way repeats it a bit here into their own moment. The band plays well, the tracks are fine but still the dynamism sounds a bit restricted within that memorised area, no real surprises happen despite all cleverness, skill and so on, the album title, “look back step forward” is exactly that: a new form with what has been memorised and freed again into a new composition, it still does not make it belong to the future. So, well done, within these limits.

The band, which participated here, is impressive, with 14 members being part of the project.

Audio: &
Info & audio:!__gadi-caplan

Creative Sources Records    Alon Nechushtan : Dark Forces (US/IS,2011)***

I prefer it when a musician/composer/project keeps deliberately a focus upon a limited area than having something unfocused. The whole piece of “Dark Forces” is like one improvisation, which not entirely belongs to free jazz, jazz or improvised music but which is also a bit like being into the new music area, even though near the end it loses itself a bit into the certain randomness of the moment by leaving a complete open ending, not really working towards some conclusion. The whole piece works around dark tones, with distant textures of electronics and sounds that stay close to the physical and to the breathing process. That means that the few used electronics remain dark and like a background movement or like physical pulsations, like those first heard when meditating. The improvisational collage is mixed with real breathing rhythms, and shortly also a heartbeat. Also the individual brass and reed instruments either remain in the bass areas more often or keep their improvisation close to the breathing focus, let’s say with more mouth piece texturing sounds. Also the cello more often keeps it closer to the pressure tension of the strings, making that sort of sounds more often. All solo musicians improvise around the impulses in that same area.

Personnel: Alon Nechustan: electronics, keyboards; Oleg Raskin: tenor saxophone (1); Steve Swell: bass trombone (2); Mark Dresser: bass (3); Robert Dick: bass flute (4); Ned Rothberg: bass clarinet (5); Briggan Krauss: baritone saxophone (6); Marcus Rojas: tuba (7); Okkyung Lee: cello (8); Nate Wooley: trumpet (9); Henry Kaiser: guitar (10); Eliott Sharp: guitar (10).

PS. The artist made already a new album called “Ritual Fire” (2013), which is a pretty good jazz record, but this is something entirely different. I wasn’t able to describe it well yet, but I might still review that one later on my webpages.

Composer info:
Other reviews:

Ozella MusicMichel Sajrawy : Yathrib (IS,2006)***°

Review of of this progressive Middle Eastern Fusion/jazz-folkrock you can find on

Habrera Hativeet Natural Gathering
Fusion group received a seperate webpage :

Skyton Rec.           Natural Gathering : Origins (IS,1979)****'
Hed Arzi Rec.    The Natural Gathering : Waiting For Samson (live) (IS,1980)***°
Hed Arzi Rec. The Natural Gathering Out of Broken Vessels (IS,1985)***°°
Hed Arzi Rec.     The Natural Gathering : Beyond The Walls (IS,1988)**'
Hed Arzi Rec.Habrera Hativit : Wandering (IS,1991)**°
Hed Arzi Music    Habreira Hativ’ it : Black Beats (IS,1993)**'
Hed Arzi                 Habrera Hativeet : Barefoot (IS,1996)**'

Reviews on

Earsay Rec.Goldoolins (IS,2004)***°
privateGoldoolins : Songs of the Turly Crio (IS,2005)***°

Review of these acoustic related releases you can find at

Asquelon quilt 
review published at

see also s/sws
Avitaz Raz on
Noa Babayof on

Essay Rec.   Balkan Beat Box (IS,US,2005)****'

Review of this Balkan Fusion release you can find on

Itamar Music       Itamar Ziegler (IS/US,2002)****
Itamar MusicItamar Ziegler : 
"The Birds, The Sky, The Trees...all That Shit" (IS/US,2002)****

The solo releases of Itamar are reviewed on

general page on Israeli Prog/psych on -->
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