Faction: The End of Tel Aviv
Neo Ouija

Given an apocalyptic title like The End of Tel Aviv, one naturally expects the recording's musical content to be aggressive too, perhaps even violent. Instead, Tel Aviv residents Yair Etziony and Rani Golan (aka Faction) have composed a work that reads like an elegiac requiem to the city. Conceptually, it calls to mind Sebastian Meissner's Random Inc. projects Jerusalem: Tales Outside The Framework Of Orthodoxy and Walking In Jerusalem (a connection further strengthened by the news that Faction is preparing an audiovisual journey through Tel Aviv that will incorporate field recordings, photos, and video clips) but, sonically, The End of Tel Aviv recalls the subtle dynamics of Opiate, System, Eno, and Alva Noto. Faction resists creating a literal evocation of the locale but instead conjures a dreamier re-imagining of it.

The recording is comprised of eight longish tracks of a slow and chilled nature that meander atmospherically. Certainly, it begins promisingly with the lovely “Inside Out.” There's a nuanced orchestral sweep to the piece, as dreamy swirls of mournful chords languidly unfurl atop quietly clicking patterns and DSP textures. During the first listen, one basks in the graceful qualities of this quiet overture, fully expecting to be jarred by a more ferocious second track only to have that expectation flouted when “Outland” adopts a similarly restrained style. The music's somnolent qualities tend to obscure the fact that there's an incredible amount of sonic detail in play at any given moment. In “Maybe Tomorrow,” for example, Faction pairs crackling electronic starbursts with clanking beats and a dubby bassline that would do System proud. “The End Of Tel Aviv” is the singular instance when field elements of crowd noises and crashing waves appear amidst the otherwise peaceful ambiance. In keeping with the overall feel, sounds of violent uproar and political conflict are rejected in favour of quiet conversations and waves that softly lap ashore rather than beat down noisily.

Of course there's an inevitable downside when compositions collectively hew to a singular style. While there's invariably a resultant unity of sound, the tracks begin to sound repetitive and monochromatic as the album unfolds; as pretty as they are, by the time “Spring Cells” and “Broken Space” appear with their clicking beats and washes, there's no question you've thoroughly heard it before. Having registered that caveat, The End of Tel Aviv still impresses as a conceptually original and distinctively textured work.

October 2004