The Lost Session
***This Program Includes no Audio Recording***
Experimental Israel is back, and begins its second season after a long hiatus with an incident, or perhaps event, that colours our inspection in a very particular and telling light. Opening our second season was the London-based improviser, Illi Adato. Adato and I met over 10 years ago in the Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv. Immediately we discovered that we have much in common, including the fact that we both then lived in London, and were interested in contemporary music. Adato mentioned to me The Gathering – the London based collective of improvisers, mentioned on this program more than once before, and suggested I should come and try it out. This suggestion was a personal landmark for me; as it was the start of a shift I made towards, or rather back to improvised music and understanding its potential.
Adato spoke of how he too, not being a practicing musician, but more of a renegade drummer with experimental tendencies, was prompted into the world of The Gathering in a similar fashion by one of our past guests on the program, Shmil Frankel. It was exciting to recall how Frankel told us a similar story about himself, and how he was prompted into the world of improv and experimentation by yet another great, Moshi Honen. However, since those forays into improv, Adato has made a name for himself and travels the world with his music. Not having received any proper musical training, his compositions are always a suggestion, a sort of open score allowing an arrangement of things, or situations rather than a setting in stone of ideas. Adato plays for us parts of his most recent concert at the Mizkaka in Jerusalem, taking place only a few days before our interview. In this instance, aided by a group of local improvisers, he set a very simple task – minute long segments, at the end of which the lighting technician abruptly turns off the lights. When, after a short pause, the lights come back on, the players commence, but rather than picking up where they left off, they do so with a completely different improvisation. This is the type of composition that Adato finds most interesting – he is not bothered with shaping details or exploring very concrete ideas, but prefers to set up situations allowing the musicians to spontaneously explore things themselves. If anything, it is a slight control mechanism allowing musical and personal exploration.
Speaking of personal exploration, this too is not a stranger to Adato, as his official profession is in the field of therapy, and more particularly: Hypnotherapy, NLP Therapy, and Family Constellations. Adato makes an immediate link between findings in his professional field and emotional structures prevalent in improvisation and indeed experimentation. Here we revisit with Adato the idea of subconscious dealings, and an ability to tap into them through musical practice. In fact, Adato mentions that he is interested in the state of trance invoked by musical practices, and relates his personal affiliation to such practices taking place throughout history. Akin to hypnosis, where the therapy attempts to tap into the subconscious and create change, music has a similar ability for both listener and practitioner. According to Adato, this is where the experimental magic happens, and this is where he most wants to be when playing. It is quite uncanny to notice Adato’s physicality when playing, as with him this is a full-body practice, indeed almost a dance, where it seems you can almost see him entering into a trance state.
Adato played for us 3 sets in the studio on his setup including percussion, string and an array of electronic instruments. But the interesting part is yet to come: the interview ends, microphones turned off, and Adato asks me whether he can have the file of our program together. “Of course”, I tell him, yet as I come to retrieve the file I notice that it has been corrupted, and when played, sounds like an alien attack on earth. Interesting as those sounds were, their resemblance to our actual program was none. Embarrassed, distraught, and confused, I confront Adato with this reality, and his almost immediate reply, and indeed the mark of an experimental improviser, was: “so it was just for us”. I was so impressed with this reaction, and although I learned much during our shared time together, my feeling now is that this perhaps is exactly what was intended for our time together. Throughout our 26 sessions to date, we have met different types of people and musicians, with different approaches and sensibilities. However, the experimentation they attune to is always marked with this immediacy of moment and time, and with the utter inability to relive that same moment even if carefully documented. To myself I thought, here I am interviewing all these fascinating people, documenting their every word and sound in recording and text. Yet this example with Adato is the perfect representation of how impossible it is to capture true moments of experimentation when they transpire. You have to either be there, in the moment, partaking, or suffice with a second hand appraisal of it all. It made me wish you could all be there with me as I go through this journey in Experimental Israel, for then you could truly understand that which I try so hard to document again and again. Alas, for now… this is what we’ve got.