Due to technical difficulties, Stylus will continue the essay portion of its year-end festivities on Friday.

Bizz Circuits
Bizz Circuits Play Intifada Offspring Vol. 1: Nishbar Li Ha

Mille Plateaux Media
2004
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umors of Mille Plateaux's and Force Inc.'s demise are apparently (and partially) premature. Renamed Mille Plateaux Media, the German conglomerate has resurfaced with a few fascinating and wonderful releases from the likes of Thomas Koner and, now, Sebastian Meissner, better known as Random Inc. and Bizz Circuits. As Random Inc., Meissner created two of the high points of Force Inc.: Jerusalem: Tales from Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy and Walking in Jerusalem. He changes monikers for this new work, but he does not change inspiration. Play Intifada Offspring is (as the "vol. 1" suggests) the first of a proposed series of releases by (according to the liner notes) "artists from Palestine and Israel and other geographic regions who have dedicated their work to the artistic deconstruction of the so-called 'middle-east conflict.'"

This album is actually two very different works: one mix CD and one DVD of original videos by Israeli and Palestinian independent artists. On the mix CD, Meissner basically takes a bunch of different artists' works and samples from them, collapses them together, and otherwise creates something new out of them. This is similar to what he did on the first Jerusalem album, only there the focus was more on traditional music from only the Palestinian and Israeli cultures. Here, the focus is on the kinds of alternative, hip hop, and electronic music that is created in cities all over the world. It is interesting music, to be sure, but, really, it is Meissner's voice that stands out on the CD. It is his touch—the ability to transform otherwise mundane or divergent sounds into cohesive works of art that he demonstrated on his earlier works—that makes this one worth hearing.

I'm not a huge fan of spoken word music, and, since there's a lot of spoken word stuff here, I do find myself wishing for a few more beats and a few less soapboxes. But even I'll admit that I was truly moved by some of the spoken pieces, especially the final, eleven-minute track, which features a beautiful accordion serenade mixed with what sounds like industrial noise, aberrant conversations, occasional ambient piano and synthesizer sounds and (midway through the song) a poem read (in English) about the horrors of life in the occupied territories is simply amazing. Together, these sounds create a sense of this fractured part of the world that is rarely (if ever) reported: the juxtaposition of everyday life (living, working, eating) and the fundamental unreality of life in a region torn apart by forty years of war.

So the CD isn't perfect, but it has some pretty amazing high points. The DVD, by contrast, is extremely interesting, featuring all sorts of short films and videos by Israeli and Palestinian artists like Ran Slavin, Elyasaf Kowner, Ran Aizenshtat, Ahuva Ozeri, among many others. Most of the videos are comments on the violence in the region, but the nice thing about the works is that there's no uniformity here; each video is distinct from each other. That makes watching these films much more entertaining than many other video collections I've seen recently (like the boring videos for Rechenzentrum's Director's Cut). Let me give you two examples. The second video, "iL/L_paL (short cuts #1)" by Marc Flachmeyer and aUTOkoNTRasT, is a fascinating collage of images and sounds from everyday life in Jerusalem (Meissner had a hand in the editing and the audio for this track), showing images of guys fixing a truck, skylines, highways, hands, protest signs, guys processing CDs, and on and on. The soundtrack uses field recordings mixed with other found sounds, like the sounds of elephants roaring and snippets of Arabic and Israeli pop music. By contrast, there's "intifada offspring" by Ran Slavin, which features loops from a bad American TV movie, where a guy shoots at a bunch of cops, who are shooting back. The music is the sound of the guns looped continuously, so that it creates a Ministry-like beat. In the end, the video loop changes to the guy being hit and falling over and then, later, the same guy being punched in the face. What does this have to do with Israel? Well, if nothing else, it is a nice reminder that violence is so much a part of American and western culture that the actual deaths of individuals in Palestine or Israel is not even given a second thought by the vast majority of those for whom entertainment is a crime drama or a sporting event.

In case you were wondering, the phrase "Nishbar Li Ha'Zayin" is Hebrew for "they broke my dick". It comes from spoken word artist Mar Mimavet, whose work is sampled frequently on the CD. In a way, it's a perfect title for a work about a part of the world where the desires of the majority of the people to live at peace are so uniformly and universally undercut by the extremists on both sides. This is a work of unusual timeliness that proclaims, loud and clear, that there are Israelis and Palestinians out there who hate the murderers on all sides and will continue to shout this until someone listens. So listen.



Reviewed by: Michael Heumann

Reviewed on: 2004-12-08

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