Shulman, the psybient phenomena, is back with a new album, ALive, which is probably one of the most colorful and hectic sonic tapestries that have ever been seen in this genre. In 2002 when Shulman’s first album Soundscapes And Modern Tales was released it was only Yaniv Shulman behind the reins, and the album was suitably described as the Israeli answer to Shpongle. Since then Omri Harpaz has joined Yaniv, and together as a duo they released 3 more fantastic and innovative albums that were very well received among fastidious psybient lovers and beyond. I think that a lot of Shulman fans will agree with me that over the years Shulman’s music went through a sort of a “humanizing” process, and that it got stronger with every album they created. I liked and enjoyed this process very much because it always meant merging worlds into one and not forsaking one for the other. So I guess it’s fair to say that all the roads led the ever expanding Shulman tribe to this point and place where organic meets synthetic, current meets the past and future, and dreams turn into reality. It was foreseeable, but the result of walking through these creative roads is far from being predictable.
Backed up with a battery of talented musicians, the Shulman duo created something very special. As Aleph Zero state on the release notes – ALive contains live arrangements of known Shulman tracks that were made for the special Shulman live band shows. So yes, these are not new tracks, but for me, the only way to really enjoy them was to drop all expectations and think of them as if they were new tracks, which in a way, that is really what they are. This is actually a good approach to go with to any live show of a band/artist you like. ALive is a studio album after all, but it has a very live feeling even though the excellent sound quality and clarity, and accuracy of everything, give away the camouflage. That being said, I’m sure that the intention of Shulman was to create an album that will sound like a studio album of a band rather than a band’s live show album anyway, and they managed to do that quite successfully. ALive is filled with all kinds of wonderful twists and turns, and is probably the most energetic and dynamic Shulman album to date.
Lush ambient waves crash into dream pop electronica atmospheres and soft alternative rock, ethnic elements meet jazz and dub vibrations, and electrifying progressive rock influences are rising to the forefront every now and then. All is very psychedelic, and even groovy uplifting trance and tech house flavours find their way into the mix. Within each and every eclectic 10-14 minutes long track on this album there is enough going on to keep even the most frantic minds busy.
Summary: Entangled and stimulating as an epic quest, at first listen one might think that this is all a bit too much and maybe even a bit pretentious, but the truth is that everything on ALive was just interwoven so well, and in a forward-thinking kinda way in order to create something unique, and one needs to listen to it several times in order to really appreciate and feel it. I actually think that people who never heard Shulman’s music before will find it easier to connect with ALive than some of the Shulman fans out there. But I can tell you that once you accept ALive for what it is, you start enjoying it deeply. Trust me, after listening to it once, you will want to listen to it again even if you didn’t really like everything about it, and then from there you will start liking it more and more, slowly but surely you’ll be captured by its spell. This is another fine genre-fusing release from Aleph Zero Records. Music for the open-minded.