"Spears Into Hooks"
1. Shahid 2
2. Shahid 2
3. Dissect Me Again
4. The Flood
5. Weekend Away Break
6. Tiring Night
7. My Last Granny

Beware: this album is a nightmare. An exorcism.
Dark voodoo to neutralize malevolent forces,
to conjure ghosts from recent and current history.
This album is an electronic opera.
It's not a pleasurable listening experience.
No nice melodies or easy-going grooves to hang on to, no soothing sounds to lull you into an
illusion of serenity, no fun, no escapism.
This album is a warning alarm.
This album is only for the strong-minded.

Her 1997 debut album "Dissected" has positioned Meira Asher as a deeply original new artist. Press and public alike have welcomed her both as an important singer/musician and as an emblematic figure which represents an uncompromising, politically-aware, peace-seeking generation of Israeli musicians, whose voice is all too rarely heard abroad.

Meira Asher's new album "Spears Into Hooks" will come as a shock to those who got to know her in her previous, mostly acoustic and percussive musical incarnation. While her experience as a singer, drummer, and specialist of West African and Indian traditional music will always remain the foundation on which she has built her identity (1), Meira has been studying and mastering a number of sophisticated, cutting-edge composition techniques which are currently used in electronic music (in both senses of the term: 'serious' as well as dance-derived varieties of electronica), and has harnessed them to her unique musical vision.

"Spears Into Hooks" presents itself in the shape of an electronic opera, which will appeal simultaneously to the young fan of The Aphex Twin and to the more mature admirer of Penderecki. There exists no musical category to describe the music on this album. A free-association test performed on a panel of initial (and initiated) listeners has shown a recurrence of the following words, in no particular order: Industrial Drill'n'Bass, Captain Beefheart, Autechre, Public Image Limited, London's neo-noise scene based around Harder Faster Louder, Kurt Weill/Lotte Lenya, Post-Illbient, Avant-Rock meets Electro Dub Infection, Ligeti, R'n'N (Rhyme and Noise), German Expressionism, Bulgarian mourning ceremonies... more seriously: the sound of "Spears Into Hooks" is absolutely unique, and it will hit you hard in the stomach. Numerous layers of textures and innovative, bold sound-processing were used throughout the album in order to create dramatic aural images which speak directly to the subconscious and reinforce the more verbal aspect of Meira's message.

"All spears bent into hooks for the animals we become, to be hung in our traditional slaughter-houses" says Meira, in a sinister distortion of the biblical phrase which appears both in the books of Isaiah and Micah: "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more". Whereas the texts on "Dissected" dealt with a variety of subjects, this album is entirely devoted to the socio-political crisis in Israel/Palestine, taken as a model for the ethnic/religious/geopolitical conflicts around the globe and throughout history. Like many Middle-Eastern intellectuals, writers and poets (2), Meira Asher believes that there is no other route but to try to achieve peaceful coexistence between the two people who live in that land, but that real mutual understanding will only have a chance to appear if all the nightmares that haunt the collective minds of both people are mercilessly exposed, bravely dealt with, and honestly taken into account by all parties concerned.

Hence the confontation between the characters and situations which inhabit "Spears Into Hooks". Like some kind of possessed digital-age shaman, Meira crawls into the skin of a shahid (Islamic suicide commando), then sneaks into the body of an inmate in an Israeli political prison or into the sick mind of the demented commander of a concentration/holiday camp. One minute she's a vengeful God bent on punishing the human race for their cruelty and stupidity, the next she's an anonymous, universal refugee woman trying to save her baby, in Rwanda, in Nazi Germany, in Kosovo or wherever and whenever men and women persecute other men and women. Meira further says: "This project is a warning alarm. It portrays the individual as a victim of a repetitive, brutal and addictive reality, a reality which generates chronical diseases that settle in everyone: cowardice and apathy".

Meira Asher chose to record "Spears Into Hooks" mostly in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a place already associated with powerful and provocative music (Laibach), the capital of a small country which lies at the crossroads between the Latin, Slavic and Germanic worlds, but which is at the same time sufficiently removed from the subject matter of the album. A couple of tracks were recorded in London, in collaboration with young electro-distorsion-noise maverick produced 2nd Gen. The basis for one track was recorded in Brussels with the Macedonian Gypsy brass band Ko├žani Orkestar. The elaborate mixing process has been entrusted to the experienced and creative hands & ears of pk (aka Paul Kendall), a master of noises and textures who for a number of years has been Mute Records' house engineer/producer, and has worked with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Barry Adamson, Depeche Mode, Wire and many more.

Meira Asher has studied traditional percussion and dance in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. She has learned Dhrupad vocal techniques and tabla playing with master musicians in North India. She's worked in musicotherapy for autistic children and has taught percussion in several Israeli universities and music schools.

"(...some Israeli politicians and writers) have asked us, Palestinian writers, to give up our former writings and to turn towards a peaceful future. Like many others, Jews and Arabs, I believe that it is just the opposite attitude which can serve the interests of the peace process and the reconciliation between our two people (...) Today more than ever, there's an urgent need to translate in Hebrew those of our writings which relate the tragedies of the Palestinian people; it is just as urgent to publicize among us the works of our Jewish colleagues who express their moral rectitude and the conscience of a people whose history is characterized by racial persecutions : how could they then persecute another people ?". Emile Habibi - from "La terre des deux promesses (The Land Of Two Promises)" by E.Habibi & Y.Kaniuk


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MEIRA ASHER - Spears Into Hooks
Spears Into Hooks