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AHVAK

RIO/Avant-Prog • Israel


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Ahvak biography
Most of AHVAK members met through an internet prog-rock forum in Israel. They started rehearsing but didn't work seriously until drummer and composer Dave Kerman (5UU'S, THINKING PLAGUE, U-TOTEM, PRESENT etc.) came to Israel and joined the band. Their debut album was released on Cuneiform Records in the USA and got some pretty flattering reviews.

Their first album is in the RIO (Rock In Opposition) style, influenced by Modernistic music (Stravinsky, Bartok) & high production values in the school of Bob Drake. Since Kerman moved back to the US, the band had to find a new drummer and rehearse for live shows. They plan to record a 2nd album.

: : : Uri Breitman, ISRAEL : : :

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3.70 | 65 ratings
Ahvak
2004

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AHVAK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Ahvak' - Ahvak (6/10)

For fans of the brand of avant rock proudly flagshipped by acts like Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, Ahvak should be an exciting prospect. Based in Israel and brought to life with the drive of Thinking Plague drummer Dave Kerman, Ahvak's blend of avant-garde rock and jazz fusion should make for a familiar and welcome sound to fans of any of the aforementioned bands. Falling in between the playfulness of Zappa, the oppressive rhythmic tendencies of RIO and the instrumental virtuosity you would expect from any band that dares go beyond the traditional call of progressive rock, these guys demonstrate a lot of potential on their first album, a potential sadly held back by patchy compositions and a dry take on experimentation.

For all of their musical variety and spontaneous shifts, Ahvak's individual compositions don't have a great deal of unique colour to them. Of them, the opener "Vivisektzia" feels like their most realized and full-rounded piece here, a sporadic and wobbling composition that travels across the map from uneasy ambiance to noisy chaos. Another surprising highlight is"Regaim", a jarring, atonal interlude that pays respect to the modernistic style of Morton Feldman and Bela Bartok. The title track "Ahvak" is arguably the most ambitious piece on the album, built around a slow, gloomy motif that reminds me of the legendary Zeuhl band Shub-Niggurath. On these and the other tracks (possibly excluding the closer "Pirzool", a puzzling minute of muffled yelling that feels unnecessary), there are interesting ideas aplenty. Melody is never a priority for Ahvak. The compositions are dense, often skirting the unfamiliar boundary between jazz, rock and classical music. Ahvak never cease to let up the experimentation, and while this consistent weirdness should keep attentive listeners on their feet, it lacks a satisfying sense of surprise. Without some much-needed recurring themes and motifs to ground and feed the listener, the music comes off as sporadic and patchy, and can be prettty difficult to get into as a result.

Ahvak's playfully eerie atmosphere is one shared by many bands of their ilk. The composition of the work offers plenty of room for the musicians to experiment at their leisure, and the textures used may come across as cartoonish or silly to those not often exposed to this corner of music. Even so, these lighthearted traits are only deceptively so, as the atmosphere or 'vibe' is almost always unsettling. It's often engaging, but never emotionally so. Like so many bands that fly under the progressive rock banner, Ahvak have plenty of technical skill and artistic ambition, but their dry approach keeps it from ever hitting me on a gut level.

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Orsaeth

3 stars Ahvak are a avant-prog rock band that first met on an internet prog rock forum in Israel, but did not get serious with making music until drummer Dave Kerman, went to Israel to join the band. To date, their self-titled album, released in 2004, is their only release, which is a shame since the album shows a lot of potential for the band.

Ahvak is a very strange twisted affair, utilizing a lot of tense, disjointed riffing, and oddly timed interplay between guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums. Occasionally it feels as if the band is trying too hard to be avant for the sake of being avant, but for the most part the music flows naturally. The music is dark and unsettling in many places, and the use of panning left and right enhances the experience. Once in a while, there are parts that seem more like a band just noodling and jamming rather than an actual composition, which, while that might work for other styles of music, does not fit well with this more precise and complex genre.

Possibly the most interesting song on the album is the eponymous title track, Ahvak (Dust), which spans 16 minutes, and a vast array of feeling. Eerie and unsettling flutes amidst a very dark and moody backdrop, furious paced drum and guitar passages, complex melodies, and grinding keyboard tones are all tied together with fantastic writing and flow. It has moments of extreme density, and moments where everything feels very loose and light. The song is a microcosm of the entire album, though the album in general is not quite as well done as this one song.

Overall, Ahvak's self titled debut album is a generally enjoyable experience if one is into the more avant-garde/rock-in-opposition (RIO) end of the prog rock spectrum. It has a few flaws, issues with composition and flow, though the musicianship is excellent. Worth a couple listens, and would definitely be a worthy addition to any obscure prog rock collection.

Score: 67

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by yosimoshe

4 stars Ahvak self titled album, is the best Prog-Rock album from Israel. The album is made of seven tracks, 5 of them stand out: Vivisektia, Bherta, Ahvak, Melet and Hamefahakim. The entire album is hard to understand, and a lot of rehearing is needed to fully enjoy the album, each time discovering new things.

Vivisektia is a track that tries to bring the ethnic music of the Mediterranean. The track is well written, although it's less fitting in the album than the other 4 tracks mentioned earlier.

Bherta is better written, and is more interesting. The dialog between the bass and the keyboards is great, and all the musicians do an amazing job.

Regaim is a track which is out of place. The track is nicely written, but is not fitting with the atmosphere and the standard of the rest of the album.

Ahvak is the highlight of the album, dramatic and a great tension builder. The motive is great, and it's sticking to someone's head very quickly. The composition is well written, and the lyrics fit the music well. The musicians play perfectly, making it an enjoyable journey to the open minded person.

Melet is a nice track, surely the nicest to the ear track in the entire album.

Hamefahakim is another great track in the album. Although the track is not as good as Ahvak in the composition, it's still a very good track, which stands with the near perfect playing of the musicians.

The last track, Pirzool, is an out of place track, which should have been cut off from the album.

Overall, this is a great album. You won't heard of him in most of the music stores, but it's in the same line with some of the best RIO bands, like Thinking plague and possibly even Univers Zero. This album is a must-have. 4.5 out of 5

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It held promise, but fell way short of my hopes and expectations. Israeli group Ahvak's lone self-titled effort (as of 2010) is very unique in the sound department. It's like a cross- pollenation of ''standard RIO'' (possible oxymoron here), Middle Eastern sounds, modern classical and hints of metal here-and-there. And there's absolutely no denying the technical abilities of the participants; all are very skilled players. It even has the oddity of crediting a member with ''computer''. If only I could enjoy this album...

That's the major setback here; I can't enjoy this no matter how impressed I am with the performances. AHVAK is the type of album that you play, and once you put the album away, you can't remember a thing you just heard. The themes here are not memorable at all, and the connecting of these themes sounds rather awkward and clumsy. ''Bherta'' and ''Hamef Ahakim'' have slight traces of a memorable theme, but that's stretching it.

I can't give this any lower than two stars simply because the music is original (or at least I haven't heard anything like this before). The promise of a very unique sounding album became overshadowed by the lack of anything coming together compositionally. This is sure to win over prog fans with eclectic tastes or those with a keen RIO background. Even then, approach this one cautiously.

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It just doesn't get much better than this. Electric chamber music with some acoustic moments all under the control of engineer Udi Koomran and his computer. This makes it difficult to know what i'm hearing at times. Udi has worked with a lot of bands over the years including PRESENT. Dave Kerman adds his drumming and percussion skills, he also helped Udi produce it. AHVAK means "Dust" in Hebrew. UNIVERS ZERO is the band I kept thinking of the most while listening to this incredible album over this past week.

"Vivisektzia" sounds so amazing a minute in with the percussion, angular guitar and flute that follows. So much going on here.Drums join in before 2 1/2 minutes and more angular guitar. Incredible ! An eerie calm follows as spoken words come in. It kicks back in before 6 minutes with piano leading the way. Pounding drums and what sounds like mellotron before 8 minutes. What a track ! "Bherta" kicks in before a minute with a great sound.The tempo starts to shift back and forth wildly. "Regaim" is very acoustic like early UNIVERS ZERO. Lots of piano and flute.

"Ahvak" is a monster. Heavy drums pound slowly to open as strange sounds come and go. It kicks in before 3 minutes with some really good bass. Just a fantastic sound ! Frequent tempo shifts follow. Spoken processed words 4 1/2 minutes in. Check out the sounds rising and falling inside the soundscape a minute later. Brilliant. Here we go again after 7 minutes as the mood and tempo continue to change. Spoken words 11 minutes in. Killer sound after 14 minutes. "Melet" features some beautiful and intricate guitar to open as other sounds start to come and go. Cool song. "Hamef Ahakim" kicks in quickly then settles just as fast. Drums, angular guitar and flute follow as it picks back up. It turns dark before 3 minutes. It's like the sound is going in circles after 6 minutes. A calm a minute later. It's building to an uptempo sound with drums leading the way, more guitar too. "Pirzool" is a short track with samples and strange sounds.

This is the best album that i've heard that's come out of the country of Isreal. I am so impressed, I wish everyone could hear this album.

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Well i can definitely understand the people giving this album 5 stars and i can understand the people giving this only 2 stars. I gues i'm kind of caught in the middle here. from one point of view this is totally progressive music, experimental, new and the playing is phenomenal. But from another point of view the music is not memorable and kind of goes above my head. Ahvak music can be classified as free modern avant-garde jazz music, chamber that falls perfectly under the big wings of RIO. This reminds me a lot of Univers Zero and Present. RIO fanatics and people who likes the one extreme end of prog rock should grab this and cherish it forever, there is so much to discover it never ends. The music is so well played too, i especially like the bass, so eclectic and does have a great sound. Drums by the master Dave Kerman are simply amazing complex wild stuff. The songs seem to have no main theme or idea, they just evolve from one minute to the other leaving you with no memory of what just happend now. You can never really guess where they are going to go next. It's hard for me to really enjoy this since this is all to abstract for my taste, i can never say the music is bad or unchallenging because of course it's always nice to hear some top notch playing but swallowing everything is a bit too much for me. Overall good music, very challenging, amazing musicians and a must have for the RIO fans or the bands i mentioned before.

Although this isn't my cup of tea i would like to see more of that coming from my country israel, which are definitely short of that kind of music.

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Pafnutij

5 stars While you probably won't find Ahvak on most "best new prog bands" lists due to the very challenging and uncommercial (even by prog standards) nature of their music, they are certainly one of the most exciting bands to grace the RIO/prog scene in a long time. They may not introduce anything radically new to the genres with their self-titled debut, but they do raise the bar considerably for intelligent, high-quality progressive rock.

It's evident early into the disc that the band draws largely from modern classical styles of composition (Bartok, Boulez, etc.), but their music always features enough catchy melodic elements to draw you in and keep your attention, while regularly bombarding you with dissonance and atonality. As is usually the case with the RIO style, the band's compositions carry a dark, sinister character, at the same time being highly energetic. The album is almost entirely instrumental, with no prominent vocal sections except for a couple of verses in the title track. The band also frequently points towards their Israeli heritage by including exotic Middle Eastern percussion and sound effects , creating a desert-like atmosphere.

The keyboard instruments are generally the dominant force on the album, which isn't surprising considering the group boasts two conservatory-trained keybardists, Udi Susser and Roy Yarkoni, who are responsible for the majority of the compositions. Not that I'm underestimating the other band members: they all bring impressive contributions to the record, in particular the legendary Dave Kerman, who, aside from his powerful signature drumming, is credited with motivating Ahvak to create this outstanding record in the first place. Studio wizard Udi Koomran does a great job as well, delivering precise, immaculate production; accusations of a cold and sterile sound may hold some merit for those sensitive to that kind of technicalities, but to me, his work doesn't diminish the overall impact of the music in the slightest.

I did have my doubts about awarding the album a "masterpiece" rating though, as the music occasionally gets a bit dull in places. However, these shortcomings can be forgiven, taking into account the challenges involved in creating an album of such complexity, as well as the stellar quality of the rest of the material.

The album opens with "Vivisection", which is inconveniently it's weakest track - although "least strongest" is probably a better way to describe it: despite floundering a bit in the middle, it features more than enough impressive moments to get excited about. And by accustoming you to Ahvak's brand of prog, it prepares you for "Bherta", undoubtedly one of the album's highlights. Tons of excellent motifs are introduced as the track progresses, all of them as memorable as they are intriguing. The heavy, precise bass work is also highly effective, as are Yehuda Kollon's fantastic razor-sharp guitar lines.

Next comes "Regaim", a short, apparently serialist piece for piano and flute. Possibly influenced by Webern, it begins in a jagged, seemingly incoherent manner, but ends in a considerably melodic fashion. Though totally weird, the track nonetheless provides a highly interesting listen.

Things get a bit more conventional with the epic title cut, once again a strong piece of music. From the lonely drum strike in the beginning, the track develops into a collection of beautiful, intricate motifs flavored by underlying dissonance, before embarking on a series of fast scalar runs that could be considered it's main theme. While not exactly the album's creative peak, this section features quite a collection of outstanding moments, thanks largely to the intense, bombastic drum work. The track's length of over 16 minutes isn't really a problem either, as the quirky quieter moments that separate the harsh sonic attacks are well thought-out and quite effective.

"Melet" (Cement) is similar to "Regaim, but features a slightly jazzier approach and a wider palette of sounds and textures. Yet again, it's a highly interesting and enjoyable number (if you enjoy strange, complex compositions, that is).

"Hamef Ahakim", or "Yawners", gets down to business fast: after a short diluted piano intro, it introduces a lovely (but still complex) melody which would recur throughout the track as it's main theme. There are plenty of other outstanding moments as well, though it's pointless to describe them here - it'll suffice to say that this is another of the album's highlights.

Finally, we have "Pirzool" (or "Ironworks"), a collection of strange noises and threatening growls of unknown origin. Though I don't really find it suitable as ending to this marvelous album, it doesn't do any particular damage.

I'n conclusion, I'd like to point out that "Ahvak" will most probably take a long time to swallow, being one of the most difficult examples of recent RIO, and thus isn't exactly recommended as a starting point for this sort of music (although you should check it out anyway ;). It's also one of the most accomplished, however, and with each listen you'll discover something new and exciting, be it a keyboard motif, an interesting noise or a guitar riff.

The boys will certainly have a hard time topping this one.

4.5

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Certif1ed
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Technically very interesting, but musically patchy

Magnificent "World Music" sounds, with a clear and transparent production, solid, rolling bass, complex and dissonant modern-jazz harmony and a touch of late King Crimson with flecks of Zappa at his jazziest make for an intriguing blend of hugely enjoyable prog.

The overall sound is a tad familiar to anyone who has listened to a lot of free-form jazz and world music in general, and very occasionally the music errs towards the stilted and coldly calculated rather than the joyous and improvised, but Ahvak put enough originality and energy into this impressive debut to make it stand out from the RIO pack. There seems to be quite a large element of mid 20th century "classical" music lending a certain creedence to the music, with touches of Scriabin, Boulez and some of the lesser-known avante-garde composers.

Overall, the music arises from the dark side, with glimmers of light that just occasionally seem a little cheesey. The experimentations in texture are to be applauded, however, the melodic invention is very strong, particularly in the riffs, and detailled attention is paid to formal development, giving most tracks and indeed the album a dramatic unfolding that is quite refreshing.

Repeated listens reveal more each time, as this is is not music that shows itself immediately, and does require an appreciation of the many compositional styles to "get" fully. However, there is a degree of engaging immediacy which invites the listener to become involved on all levels, and late King Crimson, early Gong and ELP fans interested in branching out into something a bit different should find plenty to enjoy in the first 3 tracks at least.

The 16-minute title track however, starts to feel a little tired and short on ideas, and, since this is such a large portion of the album, loses the "Masterpiece" award for the album straight away. If you go for the constant workup to a climax, then relax approach, this might be right up your street, but I find this form somewhat wearying and predictable. That said, Ahvak's approach is a lot more creative than much music that I've heard in this vein, so if this sounds like your type of music, then I think you'll absolutely revel in it.

As a centerpiece, I would have expected a little more invention from the rest of the album, and Melet becomes the first point at which I find my interest wanes, after the extended fade-out of Ahvak, as it carries a sense of scale practice which feels distincly unmusical.

The 13 and a half minute Hametahakim redeems this, however, with an almost nostalgic flavour and more improvised feel thanks mainly to the flute. Formally, this has much of the feel of Ahvak in the atmospheric workouts and climactic sections, but the atmospheric sections are longer and more sensitively built up, with a pervading dark sense of humour making this the climax to the album, IMO.

Pirzool is a bit of an oddity and I fail to see the sense it gives to the rest of the album, but others may see it.

All in all, an excellent cultural voyage - as the music has strong Israeli flavours that transport you to an unsettled Middle East with ease.

The closest band I can think of for a true comparison is Thinking Plague, so if you're already a fan of the latter, this is essential listening.

Not for the faint-hearted who require a "tune" or a toe-tapping beat, but a veritable feast for those who hunger for challenging music.

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by eliavlavi

4 stars Introduction: ----------------

When this album came out, there was quite hype around it in its homeland, Israel. Finally, a fine product released in an international label - it has to be *something*. Bad, good - I didn't know, at the time. But I did know that I would have to give it a try.

So I got it, and gave it a first chance. I wasn't surprised, shocked, and was hardly interested. "Another RIO cliché", I thought. Then I gave it few more tries during the week (hey, I paid 12$ for it, after all). Didn't do anything to me. Put it aside.

Eventually, the Israeli community of progressive rock started to pay attention to the album, and for the first time, I found myself interested to listen to it once again. And then I got it.

Review: ---------

This album is carefully played and arranged by the five musicians and their soundman (who has done a very good work, though quite annoying in a certain way). Composers Yarkoni and Susser worked hard to build 5 coherent pieces, using modern-classical composing techniques and attitude. Another piece is beautifully composed by guitarist Kotton. The ending track is 55 seconds of mixed noises.

The boldest tracks are definitely Bherta and Dust. The main motives of ahvak's music are violent and intensity. The music is 'on the edge' most of the time, but this doesn't conceal the fact that there are simply beautiful compositions in this album - ahvak knows how to build a good melody, a good RIO melody, and to elaborate it intelligently as well. The structures of the pieces are (mostly) well-planned and well-designed.

Things I didn't like about the album are the rhythm section and the sound.

The rhythm section (Sommer and Kerman) are playing accurate and right, but their attitude to rhythm is entirely different from mine - instead of interpreting the music in their own rhythmic way, they just add emphasizes and support the already-played beats. That really doesn't help the music. In fact it even hurts it.

The sound - well, it's very impressive, of course, but this accuracy is just too much for my ears. The recording is simply too perfect, and any life that was within the composition is now gone through the recording.

Eventually, this is a worthwhile, interesting record, which I find fun to get back to every once in a while. It tears down many of the RIO clichés (harsh dissonant, incomprehensible structure and logic, boring tonality [in a custom of atonality]), and that's just great.

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 Ahvak by AHVAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.70 | 65 ratings

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Ahvak
Ahvak RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by usandthem

4 stars In this album, Israeli band Ahvak manages to create something rarely seen in RIO or prog- rock in general. This album manages to put the emotionality of the music before its complexity. The result is an album which stimulates the mind as well as the heart. The haunting, screaming theme of the title track may intrigue you more then the polyphonic climax in the first track (Vivisection). Even though track 3 (a chaotic musical conversation between a piano and a flute) and track 7 (a mumble of growled voices backed by some creepy ambiance) are a tad... pointless, at least in my ears; this album contains very little filler. This (must have) album is a combination of prog-rocks groovy asymmetric rhythms, RIO's dark, melancholic feel, and the melodic integrity of classic music.

Do not miss the chance to hear it or buy it, even the non-RIO listener (and from my experience even some non-prog listeners) will find this album captivating - As often moving as it is interesting.

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