LP with 12 x 12" insert
Numbered edition of 500
• Untitled (5:28)
• Untitled (5:40)
• Untitled (2:49)
• Untitled (6:49)
• Untitled (7:40) mp3
• Untitled (11:27)
total time 39:53 mins.
Originally released in Israel in 1983 and only available in a handmade edition of just 50 copies. As such, this edition is the first widely available issue of this LP, making it available to an audience beyond the few hardened collectors who got to hear this strange experimental record back in the 80s.
There’s nothing else quite like it from that era, let alone from Israel, although it does have some parallels with earlier avant garde/outsider music from the US and Europe. It may well be the strangest, as well as one of the most obscure records to ever come out of Israel. The instruments used are flamenco and acoustic guitar, flute, violin and sax. Some of the playing is free form and some is complex notation, but all the tracks contain collages of effects and noisy field recordings which often dominate the picture - bubbling water, a chicken farm, feedback, transistor radio, metal percussion, vacuum cleaner, etc.
There are some comparisons to be made with Anal Magic and Rev Dwight Frizzell’s “Beyond The Black Crack” from 1976 (also reissued on Paradigm), “Mirror” has a similar wild and fried atmosphere sitting amidst the open sonic spaces, coupled with some skilled instrumental playing. A notable difference with the Frizzell is that Frizell’s pieces are always titled. The 6 pieces here are all untitled.
Amnon Raviv is still active as a musician, but he also holds a PhD in medical clowning and his main work these days is as a medical clown, incorporating smiles and laughter as a therapy to help recovering patients on Tel Aviv’s cancer wards.
This edition comes with new artwork showing Raviv working as a performance artist on the streets of Amsterdam in 1984. The insert replicates the original artwork from one of the 50 unique sleeves and contains liner notes by the artist that give insights into the concept behind this album. Mirror is available in an edition of 500 numbered copies.
From the label behind the original ‘Oramics’ CD comes possibly one of the strangest (and first) DIY records out of Israel, with Amnon Raviv’s 1983 debut ‘Mirror’ reissued from the original run of 50, finally making this gem available to the world beyond hardened record collectors.
Frankly and respectfully, Amnon Raviv is a bit of a nutter. Nowadays he’s a professionally accredited Clown Doctor who makes mirth for patients in Tel Aviv cancer wards, and back in 1983 he knocked out one of the most charming and singular LPs of his day, yet you’d be forgiven for being oblivious to its existence as only 50 copies of the LP were made and self-distributed between Tel Aviv record stores. Luckily Paradigm Discs’ Clive Graham received a copy from an Israeli pal in the late ‘80s, and, after a very recent exchange on YouTube, Raviv’s seductively bonkers debut is now in proper circulation for anyone who didn’t live in Tel Aviv or
have Israeli mates in the ‘80s.
Recorded between his neighbours’ chicken coop, the streets of Tel Aviv, and even in an actual studio, the results swing from fusions of flamenco guitar and violin swaddled in bubbling, underwater sounds, through to genuinely unhinged barnyard frolics and sweltering street scenes, with each part conveying highly personalised and uniquely observed scenarios. The two Flamenco pieces are equally great but markedly different, one free and full of bubbling bucolic promise, and the other ravishingly playful then head-spinningly hot and psychedelic, while the piercing tones of his 2nd piece make uncanny use of crystal glasses, guitar, and varispeed tape to connote sensations of “intense pain”, and one brilliant section features a whorl of multiple radio stations playing at once, to the most sweetly mind-bending, transportive effect, and of course, there’s that mad bit in the chicken coop, with splutters of laughter swept up with clucks and crowing cockerels and almost demonic, down pitched voices.
It’s surely fair to say after a few listens thru that ‘Mirror’ expresses the artist’s individuality in a charmingly effortless style which epitomises the fact that everyone thinks and feels in different ways, yet it takes a special something to genuinely reflect that uniqueness in any piece of art, music, literature, film etc. And that’s exactly what he does inside.
RIYL Smegma, RIP Hayman, the obscurest outsider musics, and the jouous musical explorations of Harry Partch.
Free Form Freakout
This is a reissue of an album that originally came out in Israel in 1983 in an edition of 50 handmade copies and is, as far as I can tell, the only solo album from Amnon Raviv, who has gone on to be an inspiring, Patch Adams-like figure in Tel Aviv, lifting the spirits of numerous patients while working as a Clown Doctor at various hospitals and cancer units. His album, Mirror, stands as quite a singular listening experience, though Paradigm Discs, a label that has issued a number of worthwhile obscurities throughout its over two decades of operation, noted that some comparisons could be made to the Anal Magic and Rev. Dwight Frizzell Beyond the Black Crack album, which the label also reissued on vinyl back in 2016. There are indeed some similarities between the two albums with their mixture of sparse free jazz elements and waves of sound collage confusion. I could also mention the NWW-like animal cackle in track four or the high-pitched Organum-like drones in track two, but I’m merely forcing superficial pieces into a far more complex sonic puzzle. What I find so compelling about Mirror as a whole is while there are plenty of weird, abstract moments, there are also passages where the flamenco-style guitar playing and string arrangements are so virtuosic and beautiful that it damn near stops you in your tracks. I can’t say that happens all that often with albums that are as distinctly avant-garde, but Mirror is a special album and thanks are in order to Paradigms Discs for getting this back out into the world for more people to hear.
Wooft! Swept off our clogs with this yin - powerful, spacious guitar works ++ hurled into a sea of field recordings and whizzing collage-sonics, brushed with fleeting strokes of short-passing beauty - flute and violin gliding in and out of sight with wild, chance-meeting romance and liquid, compositional prowess! Easy now!
Recorded in Israel, 1984 these six untitled pieces serve as the only recorded document of Amnon Raviv’s work, thus acting as a solitary window to the visions of the young man on the front and back cover, pictured exploring various styles of performance art on the streets of Amsterdam one year after he self-released this record (an edition of just fifty copies).
Aside from the paranoid sense of MYSTERY this Levantine abstraction conjures (I mean what else have we been missing out on in our short and ill-traveled lives?!!?) “Mirror” recalls the kinda singular / visionist charm of say, an Anton Heyboer LP, with a youthful sense of adventure running riot. Hung in a delicate balance of improvisation with every pensive pause feeling as rich as the notation itself, it feels actively unpredictable without ever losing a sense of progression in it’s whirlwind of styles and fascinations. Delayed string harmonics and ferocious flamenco guitar are backed up against a formless wall of effects, from start to finish allowing the beauty of these ascentive instrumentals and elegant chanson-sketches to be magnified when paired off against all the baffling sound-art business going on in the wings, as if a Michael O’Shea piece and Konrad Sprenger's "Miniaturen" had been hoovered up by Pierre Henry or Moniek Darge.
The Wire (December 2019)
Israeli one-off Amnon Raviv’s sole recording Mirror came out in 1983, in a handmade edition of just 50. Some pieces are said to be notated, but so solipsistically that only Raviv himself knows the system. Others are freeform, playful musings on guitars (often with a flamenco vibe you don’t often hear in Israeli music), but with self-accompaniments on saxophone, flute and violin, the instrumental parts collaged with audio of burbling water, machines, hit objects and the scratching and murmuring of a friend’s chicken coop. The effect is somewhere between a lost Milo Fine date and a klezmer band on dodgy blotter acid.
The early 1980s were a tensely confusing time in Israel. The Israeli ambassador to the UK was shot and wounded in London the June before Mirror came out, sparking off the charmingly named Operation Peace For Galilee — or war in the old money. West Bank settlement proceeded relentlessly. 1983 was bracketed by murder. It would have been an understandable, if not good, time to stick your fingers in your ears and make pretty music.
There’s always something attractive about cultural singletons who make a statement and then seem to disappear. We obsess over the afterlives of cultural outsiders — Rimbaud’s gun-running, the Henry Grimes story, the disappearance of Jim Sullivan — but few have had a stranger second string than Amnon Raviv. Though still active in music, he now works as a medical clown, visiting oncology wards and victims of PTSD dressed in a polka dot skirt, floral fascinator and low-slung guitar. Raviv has sometimes positioned himself in a role between “artist of emotion” and “performative therapist”. Our only well-known equivalent is maybe Patch Adams, but Raviv lacks the air of self-aggrandisement, or the institutional tang of Adams’s Gesundheit! Institute which often strained for zaniness. In his life, as in his music, Raviv comes across as deeply serious and entirely whack at the same time. If his physical presence does more good than pill regimens and batteries of sunlamps, Mirror throws back at you a version of yourself which is more accepting, more open, just happier, than the one you wakened up with. Amnon Raviv: Doc With Grin — put him on your list. Brian Morton