Acollective grew up making music together. In their teenage years, the story started in the way that many others do – with kids making a racket in their parents’ basement. It was an open forum to vent frustration. With no real intention of ever being a full time band, in truth only ever really aspiring to exist as a community of musicians, Acollective’s formative years were spent playing not in gig venues (who books a band that doesn’t have any songs?) but springing up at their own guerilla shows on the streets on their hometown, Tel-Aviv. Crowds started forming, more and more gatherings took place and, with a hook-up in the UK, the band’s first ever real tour was put together. In the confines of a London flat, the songs that would later become their debut album (2011’s 216;Onwards’) were penned and fine-tuned. After an unfortunate deportation saga, the band returned to Israel renewed, and full of purpose, ready to commit all they had learned to tape.
Onwards was released in 2011, produced by Chris Shaw, and cemented them as a band to believe in back in Israel – no small task, particularly for an indie band singing in English. Sold out tours around the country beckoned and it wasn’t long before they were playing international shows and festivals, at the likes of Glastonbury, YNOT, and SXSW.
Acollective will readily admit that the transition from basement dwelling art project to international performers, was a little chaotic. They were their own label, their own management, press and booking agency, and it took time for the dust to settle, and for them to find their feet in making Onwards’ follow-up. Their experiences across the world had exposed them to plethora of differing cultures that they felt all needed documenting in some form.
So, surrounded by “a million different beeping things” the troupe locked themselves away in an old shoe factory and recorded what is now called Pangaea. In spite of all of the album’s intricacies, a priority for the band was to maintain the essence of their environment so everything was recorded live. The mere mention of influences is enough to spark bloody violence within the band. Ask them who they listen to and they’ll tell you Sufjan Stevens, Beck, Paul Simon and Radiohead. Delve a little deeper and you’ll learn about their love of everything from Dixie Jazz, Japanese Pop and old-school hip-hop to modern-Arab-kitsch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has meant that Pangaea has become, at its core, quite an unstable album – in keeping with the band’s own unstable creative process. But let it not be said that it isn’t cohesive. As the band’s leader, Idan Rabinovici cryptically offers; “You must keep dancing even if the ground around you is shaking, safe in the belief that things must break apart and shatter in order to reconnect again.” Going on to talk about the album’s lead single ‘OTM’, he says; “It’s a celebration of being left behind, of being insulated from the outside world but deeply affected at the same time – in a state of perpetual limbo. Nothing is more dangerous than staying put, and nothing is more heartbreaking than running away.”
It’s a statement like that, that sets the tone of the album. Pangaea is worldly and wonky, caustic and cohesive, mellow and marauding in equal measure. Acollective could be one of 2014’s most interesting propositions.
Confirmed London shows:
14th July – Birthdays, London
20th July – Brixton Windmill, London