Natural Born Chillers
The brainchild of two Israel-based DJs, indie label Aleph Zero was founded by Yaniv Shulman and Shahar Bar-Itzhak to condense and reproduce the psychedelic ambient sounds they've been dancing to for years. Utilizing the technological reach of modern arms, their design aesthetic is worthwhile: website, packaging and overall visual appeal immediately catch the eye. Once you peel back the iridescent layers and arrive at the root - the music, that is - you find an equally animate sound collage as bright and attractive as the initial draw. Some covers do reveal their book.
Natural Born Chillers, their first compilation, is easily discerned: 10 laid back cuts for relaxing and maxing out. The slower speed does not imply ease, though, as the production team has picked a credible roster of artists to showcase. The opening "Alaya" by Ishq (Matt Hillier), whose Orchid record has been licensed worldwide by Interchill in Canada and Dakini in Japan, creates a lush atmosphere to take off to. The soft synthesizers and melodic undertones set the vibe for the slow crawl of Anahata's "Shakti" and Zen Mechanics "A New Philosophy." The very names of these artists - Anahata is the highest chakra in the yogic system, the "unstruck note," while we can visit Robert Pirsig for mechanical reference - are symbolic of the ambient ascension up the ladder of Kundalini to somewhere "other."
Chillers is not that uplifting; it lays a foundation, a music template of sorts, but the work of enlightenment is up to you. Of course, a good soundtrack doesn't hurt, and when the MIDIval PunditZ's remix of Son Kite's "On Air" throbs with a gorgeous bassline and sturdy drum kick, you're surveying higher terrain. The record culminates near the end with another Shulman's tinkering of Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Steve Shehan's "Ya Bouy," a zurna-led digital masterpiece. Tekbelik, one of Turkey's most revered musicians, reinterpreted Egyptian composer Farid Al Atrash into an energetic Middle Eastern cut on Alif; here, Shulman further translates, adding a stellar percussive breakdown blurring the lines between electronic and organic. The zurna, a high-pitched military instrument, finds a new home in club world.
In a charged political hotbed such as Israel, artistic creations reveal an unmentioned dynamic media entities don't speak about. Misperceptions are cleared up through sound, and if the sound is broad enough, everyone steps inside to enter a safe space. This record is the most comforting one can imagine, and no one is excluded.