The band will perform Saturday at the Abraham Hostel on Tel Aviv’s Levontin Street as part of the Outta Space – Psychedelic Journey event.

Beats flowing freely: Alaska Snack Time will perform Saturday at the Abraham Hostel (photo credit: OPHIR BEN-SHIMON)
Beats flowing freely: Alaska Snack Time will perform Saturday at the Abraham Hostel
(photo credit: OPHIR BEN-SHIMON)
There are polymaths – a.k.a. Renaissance people and/or postmodern cultural consumers – who happily and seamlessly flit and undulate between all kinds of artistic fields. At the musical end of the creative continuum, the said flexibly minded and spirited characters may, for example, get a lot out of attending a performance of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and get equal pleasure from jiving at a trance bash.
That and much more flow easily through the fabric of the Alaska Snack Time group and its four members’ musical and personal makeups. The band will perform Saturday at the Abraham Hostel on Tel Aviv’s Levontin Street as part of the Outta Space – Psychedelic Journey event there. The other artists in the motley program – doors open 4 p.m. – include the Kutiman Orchestra, Tiny Fingers and Ouzo Bazooka. All four acts incorporate expansive tracks of musical endeavor in their portfolios, including rock, funk, reggae, jazz, electronica, Afrobeat, psychedelia and even Greek-inflected departures.
My chat with Alaska Snack Time keyboards player and sampler operator Shachar Zysman did not bode too well for the chances of enjoying an enlightening conversation. “Lots of people have asked us where we got the name for the group,” he says, “but we decided, for now, not to reveal that.”
Be that as it may, it is a delightfully picturesque moniker that conjures up all manner of associative images. But any secrecy surrounding Zysman and his fellow band members – drummer Roy Reemy, guitar player Yuval Gantz and wind instrument and synthesizer player Rom Shani – begins and ends with the origins of the band name.
The youngsters – their ages range between 22 and 24 – have known one another for some time, but only began making sweet music together in their current guise around 18 months ago.
“I count the real start of the band as the date of our first gig, which happened about 14 months ago,” Zysman notes. “But we have been playing music together, in various combinations, for longer than that. Roy and someone called Amir Shemesh had a band and, at some stage, they added Yuval, and then the group broke up. I joined up with Yuval and Roy, and we started the current band, and after a few months we added Rom.” And the rest – thus far – is personally and musically harmonious history.
The keyboardist says that the sum of the group far exceeds the individual value of the four separate parts. The personal and professional, it seems, overlap. “We have lots in common, and we each have our own baggage,” he observes. “The main common ground we have is our friendship. But each one of us is a world unto himself, both as people and as musicians. We all come from different directions, and we all heard lots of kinds of music as kids.”
Zysman, for example, followed a meandering musical route to where he is today. “I was a singer in a rock band as a teenager,” he recalls. “As time went on I came across various kinds of music I hadn’t heard as a child or in my youth. I discovered the world of electronic beats. By that, I mean electronic music which is not necessarily trancelike music,” he points out.
It was an epiphany moment for the young musician. “When I discovered the world of beats, I underwent a transformation as a person. I dived headlong into that. I changed from being a guitarist-vocalist to a keyboard player. I got to know the others in the group in all sorts of bands we played in, and we became good friends, regardless.”
Alaska Snack Time is about to release its debut self-titled album – at a launch gig at Barby on September 2 – and, as Zysman intimates, the beats flow freely from every which direction throughout. You can find jazz, rock, hip hop, dubstep and African rhythms in there, all smoothly mingling, eddying and overlaying one another.
Zysman may have done a musical about-turn, but he didn’t forsake his rock and pop groups. “When I discovered the world of electronic music, it was clear to me that I would blend that with acoustic music,” he continues. “Basically, what we do in the band is we play the world of beats, but we do that with real live instruments. We have, on the stage with us, drums, a guitar, a saxophone and a trumpet, and all sorts of crazy synthesizers, and samplers and a computer.”
The keyboardist says there is an organic thread to everything he and his three pals put out, and that they are all very much deeply immersed in basic instrumentation. “The reason why what we do is called electronic music is because the sounds we use come from that sphere, but this is music in every sense of the word. These are sounds that are produced by musicians. There is nothing computerized or synchronized that runs continuously through what we do. Everything we play, we play live. If you replaced the synthesizer with a double bass, and the keyboards with a piano, you would say we were a jazz group.”
Zysman et al. brought in some heavyweight support from that genre for their debut recorded offering, in the shape of young, highly gifted, and already renowned pianist Tomer Bar.
“I have known Tomer for quite some time,” the keyboardist enthuses. “He is so talented.”
Bar performed so well in the recording studio that the band members were able to stretch the track spread. “He is so gifted that he finished his take really quickly, and we had time to fit in another track, called “She’ata” – galloping – which was improvised.”
The album artist roster also features internationally acclaimed veteran percussionist Gilad Dobretzky. The number Bar got through so rapidly is called “Gnawa,” it feeds off the eponymous genre of spiritual music that hails from Morocco, and it is due to be released as a single in the near future.
Saturday’s onstage endeavor will be augmented by some DJ-driven sounds, including some psychedelic garage grooves played by DJ Yonder, while Shuzin, the other DJ, will spread his offerings far and wide.
Zysman says the eclectic way is very much the Alaska Snack Time ethos. “We just go with the flow. We have our music, but some member of the band might just take something and run with it, as he feels at a particular moment. That keeps everything fresh and alive. We like that.”
For tickets and more information: (03) 624-9200 and