While Acollective only officially solidified during its members’ adult lives, musician-songwriter Idan Rabinovici has technically been on tour since he was old enough to reach the ebonies and ivories. Born in Israel, Rabinovici’s parents moved him and his brother (and fellow band mate) Roy to San Francisco when Idan was merely four years old.
“It was roughly around then that I started studying classical piano. That was pretty much all I did as a kid,” Rabinovici chuckles. “Other kids would play football and do productive and healthy things, while Roy and I would just play and play and play.”
The family moved back to Israel a few years later, where suddenly music wasn’t the only thing the young pianist had to study.
“I was so young when we left Israel that I had to learn Hebrew for the first time upon return,” Rabinovici explains.
Despite the local language acquisition, the 15-year-old received a scholarship and moved to England to continue his studies as a teenager. The young academic then bounced back and forth around the States and the UK, managing to squeeze his Israeli military service in somewhere along the way.
While the musicians knew each other growing up, it was during those years of service that the core foundations of Acollective were formed.
“Whenever we had leave, we would get together and jam. We didn’t have any songs back then so it was more of a starving jam session, a way to express our freedom from the order of the army.”
Eventually, after going their separate ways for a couple of years, and working on independent projects mostly made up of these same core musicians, the boys decided to take things in a serious direction, securing a rehearsal room – and by extension, a name.
“At first, we needed a name to pencil into the practice schedule. Our friend always nagged us about being a ‘collective’ and it just stuck. There was no ideology or pretense behind it, but in time, the name actually became quite fitting.”
Rabinovici continues, “There was something beautiful about the band’s dynamics; we were part of something bigger than ourselves, so it didn’t matter who played what, all that mattered was that collective music was made.”
You only need to listen to one of Acollective’s tracks to understand just how little it matters who plays what.
Each musician tackles a wide range of weird and wonderful instruments on the upcoming album (still nameless) scheduled for release this winter.
“It’s quite funny actually,” Rabinovici says, “I ended up playing a lot of really stupid things on the album. There are tracks where I play drums and percussion, and others where I play all these ethnic string instruments, like oud and bouzouki, that I hadn’t picked up once until that day.”
The rotating turntable of instruments hints at another unique and integral aspect of the new album: the use of vinyl. Rabinovici’s older brother, Roy, sampled hours of his diverse vinyl collection – from South American music to African beats – and inserted the manipulated and warped results into the album’s tracks, which gives it an added technical layer and richer sound.
On top of pure technique, lyricism was another objective on the agenda.
“In the first two albums, vocals were more of an afterthought,” Rabinovici admits. “This time around, we had the chance to really work out the vocal arrangements and harmonies beforehand.”
This was largely due to the fact that the songs themselves were written over a fairly long period. Rabinovici touches on the three-year gap since the release of their last album, Pangaea
: “The week [Pangaea
] was released, Roy [Rieck], my brother, and I set up a weekly ritual where we wrote and workshopped tons of songs, the majority of which will never see the light of day.”
While the bulk of the songwriting took place during these sessions, most of the arranging process only kicked off in the studio. For the previous two albums, the focus was geared towards being a live band, which meant rehearsing endlessly, making all these “crazy arrangements where everybody was playing four to five things at once, trying to coordinate pressing the right key on a keyboard with your big toe while capturing something else with your other limbs.”
This album was the exact opposite, whereby a lot of the final product came together through experimenting with sounds inside the studio setting.
“It allowed us to be a lot more patient with some of our artistic choices, slightly more minimalistic, and to really take our time fine tuning things,” Rabinovici explains.
Not only is patience a virtue, it is the key to the success of Acollective’s new offering. In spending extra time on the creative process, Rabinovici feels that this new album is the most personal and reflective they have put out to date – and the crowd has high hopes, seeing as the band’s grand return to the Barby on November 4 is already sold out.
“As cliché as it sounds, the Barby is very much home to us. It’s where we really cut our teeth as a band, learning to play in front of a larger audience.”
With opening act Yaldey Hasade setting the pace, the show promises a sharp focus on new material from Acollective’s upcoming album that has only come to life in the studio so far. Rabinovici believes that revealing these new songs on stage for the first time at the Barby is the most natural things as they “bring it all home.”
“Like many things in life, live shows are fleeting.”
While Rabinovici has come to the cynical realization that things are rarely permanent, he shares that despite the impossibilities of complete escape into an idealistic setting where everybody pitches in solely for the beauty of art, his atypical Acollective catches glimpses of these moments, where “the truly important lessons that cannot be taught” lie.
Acollective performs at the Barby in Tel Aviv on November 4 and again on January 5, 2018. Their new album is due out this winter, followed by an international tour (dates & locations TBA). Follow them at joinacollective.com.