Everyone’s making a lot of noise to be seen. As times keep changing, technology progresses and the world’s beat rises – the world seems to be full of potential of vast exposure for musicians. In order to be seen, not just be that face in the crowd – you got to be noisy. You can play quiet music but you gotta say something interesting besides music, to make people see you. You can scream, you can make a video, you can say something about politics – but you gotta be out there, playing the game.
It seems that humanity somehow lost its compassion for those humble artists, the fragile, and in this case, you really have to watch the quiet ones, they may have an important message to deliver.
Amit Erez is a singer/songwriter from Tel Aviv, Israel. He belongs to that small group of high quality musicians, who pave their way through the difficulties of the noisy world outside. He’s a humble person, shy, a true musical friend. I want to tell you a bit about him. Before I’ll do that, and to get this out of the way, I must say that I used to work with Amit, I released his albums under the two labels I was working in, Earsay Records and Anova Music.
When I was still living in London, back in 2003-2004 and started to be interested in acoustic guitars and fingerpicking, I bumped into this website who hosted the creations of many young musicians, poets and storytellers. I was surprised that in Tel Aviv, I can find a vicious acoustic guitar player like that, who play fingerpicking style in such level. I contacted him. Back then, he was staying in Netherlands, where he was studying music, and we started communicating during my night shifts, through the Microsoft Messenger software, and became internet friends. Two lost souls in the world, trying to figure out if they like their life as it is, and debating the question if we should get back home to Israel. Eventually, a year after, we both came back.
We didn’t really stay in touch in Israel. What’s right for internet, doesn’t necessarily work in real life. He went along with his life, and I went along with my life, and ended up as a label manager of Earsay Records.
In 2005 I met Amit, and was very happy to hear he recorded an EP, that he was looking to release. He already had a DIY album of home sketches that he released, and got a nice attention in the Israeli indie scene.
I released his EP, titled Black Light. This release was a humble, quiet album, like Amit is in real life. It had five songs to it, and he got amazing responses all around the country. The music was a fusion of his influences of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, Robert Wyatt and even Genesis. That name dropping would not draw attention on first sight, show me a singer/songwriter who doesn’t state Smith/Drake as his influences. But Amit had something else. His songs were tremendously special. The melodies were complicated, a true work of art in songwriting. His singing was introspective, as if he didn’t want to interrupt the noisy world outside. And though the complexity of the melodies, it was still hummable, easy, comforting and frightenly touching. All the songs are beautiful, but it was the last tune Endings Get An Early Start the left a special mark on me. Till this day, I see this song as one of the best songs ever written.
Time went by, and I moved along to co-manage Anova Music. Meanwhile, Amit had recorded his first full, eponymous album, that until this day, people call it “The Trees Album”
The trees album showed the rock side of Amit. As if he kinda abandoned that troubadour side of him, got an electric band and electrified his songs and emotions. The result was brilliant. We shot a video for the long time crowd favorite Postcard, which also won the crowd favorite in the Internet Song Competition of 2007, then, we went to Italy to play the Livorno Lovewave Festival couple of months later.
But you know, great songs are great songs, and if you strip down the electric arrangements, and listen to the songs, you’ll find out that it’s a fabulous collection of 12 songs, carefully handpicked jewels. And even with all the drums and electric guitars, there are the acoustic pieces like Oh My God and the piano ballad Appollio, played by the famous Israeli mad pianist Shlomi Shaban, to remind us of that troubadour. It was in this album that Amit had revealed his affection for dark 80’s music, when he re-recorded his epic Come Get Your Love (that was originally released as single couple of years back under his moniker Trickstarr Waterfall).
In 2009, Amit came to Anova with another collection of songs. He decided to change his way again, and found a place in the middle, between the electric and acoustic. Aside for being a solo musician, he’s also one of the guitarists of Eatliz, one of the country’s most beloved alternative rock bands. Or Bahir, the band lead guitarist, was asked to produce the new album. The result was one of my favorite albums ever created by a local musician. The album was titled Last Night When I Tried To Sleep, I Felt The Ocean With My Fingertips.
Or Bahir’s production along with Amit was just what the album needed. Cleverly structured arrangements, full of pianos, strings, electric band, acoustic guitars and a variety of colors. The main inspiration for the album was PJ Harvey’s White Chalk, and it definitely shows. The production is gentle, airy, touching and surprising. Amit sounds much more confident, his singing became much more secure and full of presence – but above all, the songs are once again, not less then amazing.
Again, the album got raving reviews. The pinnacles of the album for me, are the acoustic Coming Down, the cleverly crafted Whales Dance For Me and the completely far out burst of energy of the album title song.
In the beginning of 2010, Amit joined classical cello player Yael Shapira to record Paper Cuts which I wrote about before.
In short, it’s an EP of five songs again, where the duo revisited some of Amit’s songs. They started touring the country with a new set of arrangements to the old songs, build only upon fingerpicking guitar and a classical cello, which again, gave a new life to Amit’s creation.
Between his official releases, Amit had recorded couple of cover versions to Minimal Compact‘s My Will and Kate Bush‘s Cloudbusting, and Big Star‘s Blue Moon, showing his skills as an arranger and singer.
And now we wait for a new album.
If you survived all this and you wonder why am I writing this long piece about one of this interesting musician, I can tell you there’s no reason at all. I just heard his EP Black Light couple of hours ago, and was astonished again, like a 15 year old fan, and decided that the readers of this blog should meet a true amazing songwriter and guitarist.
Amit is not a person to make a big fuss, no sparkling light, nor dancing girls or retro bits. He’s just Amit, humble and quiet person and one of the nicest musician I’ve ever worked with.
Amit has his entire catalog available for a digital download, for really fair prices, on Bandcamp and the Anova Music label is selling the physical cd’s. Choose whatever you want, but do choose. I’m no longer working in Anova and don’t have any stocks in the label, I just believe his music should get to every music fan out there, who wishes to be moved by MUSIC, like those old times, when that was the important thing.
Amit Erez – Endings Get An Early Start
Amit Erez – Postcard
Amit Erez – Whales Dance For Me
Amit Erez – Coming Down
Paper Cuts – Appollio (With Yael Shapira)
Amit Erez – Cloudbusting (Of Kate Bush)
Amit Erez – Blue Moon (Of Big Star)
[RIYL] Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, Good Songwriters
[Buy] Anova Music Store