sat 19/09/2020

Albums of the Year: Autarkic - Can You Pass the Knife? | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year: Autarkic - Can You Pass the Knife?

Albums of the Year: Autarkic - Can You Pass the Knife?

Producer Nadav Spiegel's debut shone in a year that wasn't shy of contenders

2016 has been a big year for Tel Aviv’s burgeoning underground scene. Acts including Red Axes, Moscoman and Naduve have produced endlessly inventive music at an impressive pace and on a range of labels. Of these, Disco Halal, run by Chen Mosco and based at the Berlin record shop Oye, has been absurdly consistent in its releases, notably a series of re-edits that blend exotic Middle Eastern melodies with dancefloor beats and, in doing so, provide a groove for both head and heart.

In May this year, they broke with their MO and released a mini-LP by Nadav Spiegel, better known as Autarkic. Posessed of a distinctive, often plaintive voice, to add to the sometimes stark, 80s-influenced production, it is a hugely satisfying listen. There are no stand-outs as such, rather an overwhelming sense of cohesion to the songs which, for the most part, occupy a hinterland somewhere between the home and the club. It’s a collection that it’s very easy to lose oneself in, partly because of the life Autarkic finds in his ice-cold palette of sounds. While the songs boast an incredible degree of craft, this helps them to retain a pleasingly ragged – and human – appeal.

It’s also worth noting that the field this year has been very strong: the release of Gruff Rhys’ soundtrack to the 2014 film Set Fire to the Stars was an unexpected delight, Steve Mason gave us his most fully realised solo collection to date, and Xam Duo and The Early Years both made a strong case for Sonic Cathedral to be hailed as label of the year (again) with their respective albums.

Special mention must also go to Hipnotik Tradisi, the extraordinary collision of cultures from George Thompson, otherwise known as Black Merlin. Were it not for the fact that I’d already reviewed it for theartsdesk back in July, it would have been a coin toss to decide which would take the honours for 2016.

Two More Essential albums from 2016

Black Merlin - Hipnotik Tradisi

The Early Years - II

Gig of the Year

Vox Low at Alfresco

Track of the Year

Vox Low - The Hunt

Overleaf: listen to "The Hunt" by Vox Low

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters