The sound of garbage

After struggling to make it on the local music circuit, Zevel is finally seeing their post-punk sound succeed.

zevel band 88 298 (photo credit: )
zevel band 88 298
(photo credit: )
If there's any truth to the northern English adage "where there's muck there's money", with their chosen nom de plume 22-year-old Yigal Ran Duek and his fellow Zevel ("Garbage") band members Kimel, Tzahi Mizrahi and Amir Reich should be rolling in it - that's in money, not muck. Zevel has just released its second album, Holadat Hatinok ("The Baby's Birth") and is currently touring the country with the new material. Jerusalemites will be able to get an earful of the band's sounds, which are largely not for the faint of heart, tomorrow evening at The Yellow Submarine. A couple of nanoseconds into the opening track "Nadir," the unsuspecting listener might be excused for thinking they had wandered through a time warp into mid-Seventies Britain. The sound is akin the Sex Pistols or The Stranglers, or any of their like-minded contemporaries, who spit out iconoclastic energies with unbridled abandon. The lyrics do nothing to allay that suspicion either. "I'm drunk, I'm stoned, I'm smarter than you but I won't tell you anything", sings Duek raucously over a thudding bass line and screaming guitars. And it gets even more melodically challenging. The first bars of the following track "Merhak Sakin Shomer (A Knife's Length Away)" kick in over a sound that could be best described as a sliver of metal being dragged over sandpaper. In fact the instrumental content is provided by a distorted guitar in extremis. But, if by now you have come to the conclusion that Zevel should be avoided at all costs, you'd be missing the point, and missing out. The energies and sounds Duek and his cohorts generate are heartfelt, conveyed with admirable conviction and executed with more than a modicum of professional gusto. And it's not all hell-for-leather outbursts either. The third cut on the CD "Perakh (Flower)", for example, has enjoyed a generous amount of airtime on 88FM over the past few weeks. It is a ballad extolling the virtues of an albeit somewhat mentally deranged young lady, but the delivery is commensurately delicate and tender. Duek makes no excuses for the band's non-mainstream approach. "We're influenced by the Sex Pistols and all those British groups," he explains, "But it all comes from the underground - all that distortion - and we don't have to go back three decades to get our inspiration. There are plenty of contemporary bands around doing that stuff." Then again Duek doesn't entirely identify with vibes from mid-70s UK. "I don't see us as a punk rock band. I think post-punk is a better definition of what we do. The best punk band here is Hapussy Shel Lucy. I don't think we're as underground as them." According to Duek, Zevel has made great strides in the past year. "We've played in just about every stinking hole in the country. You name it we've been there." So, presumably, a gig at The Yellow Submarine is something of an incremental leap in fortunes. "Things are much better today," Duek concurs. "This month we're playing at the Kultura Club in Tel Aviv, in Kiryat Ono and all sorts of places. And they're all a lot more respectable than the dives we used to play at. A year ago I wasn't sure we were going to make it. We used to beg club owners to let us perform and we'd drag our heavy equipment all over. But things are looking good right now." Duek, Kimel, Mizrahi and Reich have got big plans too. "We've already got the material ready for the next two albums," says Duek, adding that he isn't about to let material ambition compromise the band's creative aspirations. "I think we're going to put them out independently. This is such a small country. Who needs a big record company? You can get to everyone on your own if you really put your mind to it. We sweated blood to get this disc out, but I think we'll manage on our own from now." By the way, in case you thought the band name smacks of nihilism you'd be wrong. The liner notes of Holadat Hatinok closes with the line "Israeli music is not garbage". Zevel will play at Jerusalem's Yellow Submarine on December 8 at 9 p.m.