Hagar Levy sounds like she’s not in a good place in her relationship. In a re-release of ‘I Will Never Know’, taken from her debut album to celebrate its 5 year anniversary, we find her questioning the validity of her relationship. I hope for her sake that she’s still not in that relationship five years on – or at the very least that she now knows who her partner was speaking with on the phone when she arrived home.
It strikes me that Hagar’s intuition is probably spot-on and that her partner is up to no good. If they clam up and don’t want to talk about it then they’ve got skeletons in the cupboard that they shouldn’t be keeping secret in any meaningful relationship. But that’s my naturally suspicious mind at play. It is of course entirely feasible that Hagar’s loving partner was organising a surprise birthday party for her and didn’t want to let on.
Getting the balance between trusting another and trusting your own instinct is surely at the heart of any successful relationship.
We’re due an update on the relationship status and perhaps Hagar has been honing her neo-soul output this year to provide one. “2021 has been good so far,”, she says when we exchange e-mails. “I’m recording new material and taking my time with new projects. I really hope it will be a good year!!” – there are rumours that this could include putting music to some poems by Emily Dickinson and William Blake.
I take the chance to ask Hagar, an artist living in Tel-Aviv, about the current Covid situation in Israel. We hear so much about it here in the UK where we’ve taken similar approaches to rapid vaccination. “Yes, Israel is seemingly getting back to some normalcy!“, she says. “Seemingly because the political instability is very grave, but we are out and about, meeting each other, going to restaurants and starting to go to shows…so the vaccines are good i suppose but generally everything is…unclear and unstable But it’s seemingly like that everywhere!!”
Hagar is seemingly fond of the word ‘seemingly’. We will never know. All might not be as obvious as it looks if you don’t scratch a little beneath the surface. Taking things at face value might not always be your best option. There are no clear and distinct conclusions to draw from today’s post, save for the song that Sonic Breakfast brings you is a strong one. Of that, there is no question.
I know that many of my dearest friends have found 2020 a struggle. They tell me that their anxiety is going through the roof and that their panic attacks have become more sustained and frequent. Some won’t see 2021 because they’ve made a choice that this is all too much. It’s not been easy.
When little makes sense, I often find that a healthy tablet of odd psychedelia clears the mind. And when it doesn’t entirely sort you out, it helps to rewire your brain so that little seems problematic any more.
Take this track ‘Gorgeous Pulse’ by Loving Backwards. It manages to avoid any elongated pomposity that could be associated with the genre clocking in at a mere three and a half minutes. It doesn’t half pack a punch in that time.
Changing time signature as often as a Tory Government backtracks (a lot), this wizard piece is the first single from a Tel Aviv consortium led by guitarist and vocalist, Or Izekson. When asked about the title, Or said, “the theme behind the phrase “Gorgeous Pulse” came to my mind while struggling with anxiety outbreaks during a personal crisis, which caused my heart to beat very strong and rapid. Writing this song was a way to address this, as in saying: “it’s OK, dear pulse, you’re absolutely gorgeous, and I have no quarrel with you”.”
‘It’s ok dear pulse, you’re absolutely gorgeous and I have no quarrel with you’ – let the power of that sink in for a second. We all should be telling ourselves how true that is every morning when we wake. It’s a beautiful statement and a helpful thought for these times.
Gorgeous Pulse comes with a magical video as well. An elderly wizard goes on a quest to regain his powers and is helped to do so by a young girl. It’s an epic journey in a short(ish) song but also an opportunity for Or to burn an old, broken guitar that he had at his disposal.
You are all absolutely gorgeous. Make time for treats this weekend.
I’m still in Spain. I wasn’t really planning to spend this long over here when I left Blighty back in July. But the virus is raging and I’m now not there for Autumn back home. I have no qualms about missing the most miserable of seasons. Waking every day to bright blue skies here more than makes up for that disappointment.
That’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and laughter over here. There’s a new chill in the air that gets positively biting at night. With no central heating and porous walls, this villa feels the cold more than your standard terrace back in the UK. Tonight, I loaded the fire with wood from the garden and kept myself warm by prodding and poking away at the twigs as the flames flew up the flue.
Fireside joy (and it is captivating to watch the flames tell their tales as they create their crackles) needs a solid sort of music; for me, you can’t beat a strong dose of acoustic folk when the orange hue is raging. The lyric has to be right; you don’t want a morose, break-up tune or, god forbid, a murder ballad right now. Such songs are better suited to the gently glowing, dying embers at the aftermath. This moment calls for declarations of love that has lasted the distance.
And that’s what you get in Lover Boy from Jonathan Levy. Our hair might be falling out or changing colour and our bodies have most definitely gained a few pounds but we’ve got each other as a constant. This is a tune about stability, about growing old gracefully and fanning the flames of love.
Jonathan delivers the acoustic ballad (that builds with cinematic flourish) impeccably. Think of the Beatles at their most romantic crossed with Elvis Costello minus the gravelly voice and insane wordplay and you might be in Jonathan’s ballpark. His vocal goes semi-falsetto during the sweet chorus – there’s more than a tinge of Ben Folds in the tone though Jonathan uses guitar rather than piano as his primary instrument.
The logs burn. The duvet beckons. It’s going to be a cold night. I settle and smile as the consistency takes hold and the future maps out.
“Have you ever been placed in your own prison from your thoughts of how you see your past? We wrapped this feeling in a Up/down beat song.”
It was in this way that Memory In Plant first got in touch with Sonic Breakfast by E-mail.
In truth, this is probably a pretty universal feeling; surely, even the most productive and dynamic of us (I don’t count myself in that group) are trapped. We beat ourselves up over the mistakes we’ve made and the opportunities we failed to take. And seek comfort in repeating patterns of behaviour simply because they’re familiar.
A few weeks later, Memory In Plant sent me a link to their EP, ‘An Epic Triumph’. Intrigued, I listened. There’s much going on. Cluttered yet simple, complex yet accessible, mysterious yet obvious, this is an EP of contrasts. It dabs in the psychedelic paint pot but refuses to be pinned to any genre for too long.
In an effort to get beyond the mystery, I sent an E-mail with questions to the band. Here’s the responses I received: –
Many readers of ‘Sonic Breakfast’ won’t know much about Memory In Plant. How would you introduce yourself to them? What are Memory In Plant about? What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
We are a Psychedelic band with no obligation to a certain genre. The whole point is to do what ever the fuck we want. The things that makes us get out of bed in the morning (and sometimes at noon) is mainly our day job, but also making our own music which is the perfect escape from it.
You’ve recently released ‘An Epic Triumph’ to positive reviews. What is it that makes you proudest about this EP?
That it’s truly An Epic Triumph!We created this thing that has no specific rules and people really get it.
A fair bit is made of your special recording process? It certainly generates a creative sound. How does this recording/writing process work in practice?
In practice, the writing and recording were as one.The main work was to build the parts of the songs and to make them sound as one unit.The album was recorded in our humble home studios and that was a big part of the sound of this album. We didn’t try to imitate the sound of professional studios, We used what we had.Because we didn’t work with a time and money limit, we had the chance to use unconventional recording methods and embrace the mistakes.
Who and what are your influences?
We prefer to let the listeners to speculate who and what by hearing our music.
How much does living in Tel Aviv influence the sort of band that you are? Is there a ‘scene’ there and if so, do you sit comfortably within it?
Living in a rough neighbourhood at south Tel Aviv does have its effects on some parts of the album.Living with a lot of immigrates around you, and in Israel as a Melting pot in general, has made dreams of a better places put a kind of new world sound on this album.There is a scene in Tel Aviv and there are some great bands over here, but they are outnumbered than the potential audience.We are not sitting with the scene here, we’re standing with our luggage, ready to tour the big world and to see some amazing places.
A number of reviews have mentioned the ‘psychedelic’ aspects of your recordings. If you were forced to listen to ‘An Epic Triumph’ on a drug, what drug would that be? Combinations also allowed!!!
Actually, we asked our fans this question and as of this moment only one answered us that he would totally hear the album with the after effect of “psychedelic toad licking”.We recommend to listen to the album with all the drugs that you can get (not all at once) and then please contact us and tell us about your trippy experience.
What might the next year hold for Memory In Plant? Do you have any plans for translating these recordings into a live thing?
We are working on the live show a while now, planning on playing where ever they let us.Also working on some new stuff, always.
For those who are now itching to listen to ‘An Epic Triumph’ in its entirety (highly recommended), you can find it here….
When I was seventeen, I went on an international youth conference to Israel. I will always remember getting into the strangest of conversations with a small group of Israeli students on that October night. Of the many things we might have discussed in that Jerusalem campsite, we settled on one topic; The Eurovision Song Contest.
As discussed in earlier blogs, I had a fair grounding in all things Eurovision but my knowledge paled into insignificance compared to these geeks. Bearing in mind that the contest had happened six months earlier, I found it a little unsettling that campfire companions knew the words and the melody to the UK entry that had spectacularly bombed back home. Even more disturbing was the fact that they were able to give me a note perfect rendition of that years entry from Belgium, something that the Belgium entrant on the night had been unable to do.
I hadn’t stumbled into the Eurovision branch of Israeli Youth either. Such knowledge was widespread and expected amongst your typical teenager. Often on Easter Sundays since (seeing as the main action took place in that neck of the woods), whilst others are munching away at their chocolate eggs, I ponder the much more important questions of the day – do the youth of Israel still hold the Eurovision Song Contest in such high regard or has the subsequent emergence of Dana International dampened their collective enthusiam?
But I’m waffling again. Today is all about songs 19 to 27 in the 2014 Eurovision rundown. There are some classics here and appropriately we begin with:-
19. Israel – Mei Finegold – Same Heart
Strangely, this does sound very similar to Heart, the 80’s ‘rock’ legends. I think Mei probably needs to book an appointment in with a medical practitioner pronto. Opening with ‘You fill me up with poisoned love’ (not healthy), she then tells us, with an air of disappointment that ‘we don’t beat from the same heart‘ (normal, quite healthy). File under poodle rock.
20. Iceland – Pollaponk – No Prejudice
Yes, yes, yes. Cartoon, bubblegum pop punk with a lyric that captures the naive spirit of Eurovision perfectly. Pollaponk instruct us that we should ‘do away with prejudice, cross this problem off our list’. It simply doesn’t matter to Pollaponk if ‘Perhaps you’re thinner, or one who likes your dinner‘. When the funky guitar kicks in after two minutes, I am a convert to their version of equalities. Bonkers and brilliant. Will probably get nil points.
21. Italy – Emma – La Mia Citta
We’re back into poodle rock territory. This opens with the guitar riff from Billy Idol’s White Wedding. I bet that Emma is draped over the back of a motorbike adorned in a studded leather jacket in the video to this one. Her long, permed black hair will be blowing in the wind machine. Probably chosen by the Mafia.
22. Lithuania – Vilija – Attention
This is a bit dancey, a bit rocky and a bit souly. It’s also a lot shit. Vilija demands for our ‘Attention – a little bit‘. I’m sorry, you are making impossible demands on me there.
23. Latvia – Aarzemnieki – Cake To Bake
The Latvians have given us an earworm. Singalong folk music on an acoustic guitar that builds into a chorus of mates singing about the delights and difficulties of baking a cake. Aarzemnieki (tip – change your name to something simpler like Abba?) tells us that he’s a master of doing difficult things such as finding Atlantis, talking to a unicorn and moonwalking on a Milky Way (don’t try this at home – your chocolate will squash) yet he doesn’t know how to bake a cake. Enter his hippie friends who think it’s a ‘piece of cake‘ to build a cake. And we all got stoned together. Eurovision heaven.
24. Moldova – Cristina Scarlat – Wild Soul
Another one to file under poodle rock. I am sure that in real life Cristina is a lovely person but when she sings lines like ‘I have no feelings of mercy‘ and ‘What am I? Am I human‘, I think the wise thing to do is to pass on by in an orderly fashion. Best not to rubberneck as we do.
25. Montenegro – Sergej – Moj Svijet
Bonus points for Sergej for singing in a language that I don’t understand. And not resorting to ‘poodle rock’. This is a classy ballad with some form of pipe-based instrument leading the way. It invokes images of Tolkien and faraway lands. I bet Sergej looks like a hobbit.
26. Macedonia – Tijana – To The Sky
More soft dance rock here. ‘Where do we go now? To the stars?’ queries Tijana. Since you’re asking, I reckon getting the first flight back to Macedonia is a better bet.
27. Malta – Firelight – Coming Home
Already we’re at the end of today’s offering and it’s time to open your Easter bag of Maltesers. I’m not sure what to make of this one. Acoustic guitars, harmonicas and a Europop beat. I think Firelight are trying to inhabit that unhappy space somewhere between Mumford and Sons and Ellie Goulding. It can only possibly end in tears. It does.
Again today, the two videos pick themselves. Let’s all share Pollaponks vision with less enlightened friends whilst joining Aarzemnieki around the Aga in their stable?