White Label Series
Gelbart 'Egg Ray Test Hits Cow Action'
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- He Who Speaks Through Pyramids
- Waking Up The Cows (The Lonesomes cover)
- Hilton Sewer
- The Device
- Spacetime Reverie
- The Inverted Forest
- World War I Hamster Diorama
- Tokomon Rip-off Rip-off
- Birthday With The Stars
- Echo Valley
- Nouvelle Planète Gelée
In the early 2000s my teenage punk band was invited to support the reunion of the biggest Israeli mainstream rock band. The lead singer’s punk rocker son was a fan of our music, which was enough to land us the strange gig.
They were the biggest band in Israel, reforming after 20 years apart, the kind of music my dad listened to. Locally, it was a big deal. And with nothing to lose (and for some bizarre reason) they decided to hire experimental acts to support their first ever reunion shows.
That put us second out of three, a strange punk band playing obscure 2 minute songs right before the headliner's crowd pleasing ballads and kitschy singalongs. Israeli audiences are not exactly known for their open mindedness, and I’ve probably never heard so much boo’ing in my life. Except when an electronic composer who went by the name of Gelbart, playing first out of three, opened the evening.
As he started his set to an already-hostile audience, Gelbart placed a puppet of an anteater on top of one of his synthesizers. His music was overwhelming and aggressive but also very melodic, freewheeling, playful, unpredictable. There was always something going on, and it was usually pretty wild. The intensifying audience heckling blended perfectly with the strange sound emanating from stage.
At some point Gelbart’s anteater puppet got knocked off of his synthesizer by the strong wind blowing on the outdoor festival-type stage. Gelbart's response was to stop the music to a halt, and to the audience’s deafening screams of discontent, he slowly leaned down to pick up the puppet, and—dead silence coming from the stage—calmly placed the anteater back on his synthesizer. When this ritual was done, he resumed his concert.
Always oblivious to the baffled audience, Gelbart was following his own instinct that day, and he has remained the same artist since, following nobody’s instinct but his own. He released an endless amount of music under different, often confusing, aliases. He taught himself to play tenor sax, upright bass, drums and clarinet and started adding these layers to his sound. He taught himself filmmaking and animation and directed a film, “Vermin”, which he also scored. He then taught himself how to write literature and published a fascinating novel called “Egglike” in 2018.
Always unpredictable, for a person who only ever follows his own instincts, Gelbart was surprisingly open to the idea of creating a compilation of some of the most captivating songs of his vast catalogue of 20 albums and EPs, giving me the pleasure of taking an archaeological dive into at least 250 of his inimitable compositions.
I therefore hope this compilation will serve as an impressive introduction to a musician who never tried to impress anyone. Nothing but time can help us assess music (if we ever need to do that in the first place) and despite of the strong reaction of a random Israeli audience one night when encountering Gelbart's breathtaking, singular sound for the first time unprepared – it seems likely these great compositions will be remembered long after his anteater has been knocked down by wind and picked up again, oblivious to the baffled audience.
- Yonatan Gat, Curator