In winter 2012, Malka Spigel played a series of concerts in France and Israel, with a full band, to promote her third solo album, Every Day Is Like the First Day. The performances drew not only on her latest record but also on several of her earlier releases, with older tracks (in completely rearranged formats) becoming highlights of the live set and, in turn, laying the foundations for Gliding.
Immediately following the 2012 dates, Spigel embarked on a studio project with the band. The objective was to revisit those live highlights as a springboard for recordings that would capture the power and dexterity of the musiciansʼ live performances and at the same time channel their creative synergy into new sonic territory.
Gliding features the core lineup of Spigel (bass, vocals), her partner Colin Newman (Wire/Githead; guitar), Ronald Lippok (To Rococo Rot/Tarwater; drums), Gil Luz (Mambas; keyboards) and Uri Frost (Mambas; guitar). Also making appearances are Matthew Simms (It Hugs Back/Wire; guitar) and Julie Campbell (Lonelady; guitar).
As always, Spigel gathers an eclectic range of styles. Her signature dubby bassline and a rolling rhythm anchor the harmonically lush “Strumgliding.” Dating from Spigelʼs 1993 solo debut, Rosh Ballata, the Hebrew-language “Hacol Zaram Beyachad” (featuring Campbell on guitar and backing vocals) is elegant in its simplicity. Meanwhile, on “Tall Grey Buildings,” Spigel transforms the austere urban landscape into blissful pop, in the process reinventing shoegazing for 2014. By contrast, the closer, “Dreamwalking,” is a darker, harder-edged, more mysterious affair, with its kaleidoscopic layers of guitar, Mellotron and heavy, distorted bass. (The tracks were finished and mixed in swim~ studio by Colin Newman.)
Gliding is a transitional record, or perhaps a prologue, for Spigel: this is very much the work of an artist on the threshold of a new creative cycle, reimagining existing material in intriguing, forward-looking ways, brimming with fresh ideas and pointing ahead in myriad directions.
Raised in Tel Aviv, Malka Spigel began her musical and artistic life in Amsterdam in the early 80s. There, she first picked up a bass guitar and, with fellow émigrés Berry Sakharof and Samy Birnbach, founded Minimal Compact, whose middle-eastern nuanced post-punk would garner a large, loyal following, especially in continental Europe. The band (later joined by Rami Fortis and Max Franken) put out six studio albums between 1981 and 1988, and their song “When I Go” – sung by Spigel – was famously featured on the soundtrack to Wim Wenders’s 1987 film, Wings of Desire. Although Minimal Compact haven’t released any new material for over two decades, their stature has continued to grow with each reawakening of the band for live work: six dates in Israel in 2012, for instance, saw them play to crowds unimaginable even in their heyday.
In 1985, Spigel met Wire’s Colin Newman – then producing Minimal’s Raging Souls – and collaborated with him on Commercial Suicide in 1986. They married soon after and, basing themselves in Brussels, developed a creative partnership on various projects before relocating to London in 1992. The couple then set up the Swim~ label, releasing Spigel’s debut album, Rosh Ballata (1993), as well as projects recorded under the names Oracle and Immersion. Spigel’s mini-album, Hide, and her second full-length record, My Pet Fish, both followed in 1997.
Inspired by the experience of creating an Immersion installation for Event Horizon at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1996, Spigel began to pursue her interests beyond music, earning a degree in Fine Art (specialising in video and photography). She subsequently made video work for Immersion and promos for Minimal Compact, Vapourspace, Githead and Wire. Under the name Maya Newman, she also established herself as a photographer. Now widely known for her innovative, arresting work with Lomo LCA cameras, she has had major shows in Strasbourg (2008), Tel Aviv (2010) and Jerusalem (2011).
Although Spigel has broadened her artistic horizons over the past decade, she hasn’t abandoned music. Far from it. In 2004, with Newman and Robin Rimbaud, she formed the band Githead, which has to date released three acclaimed albums: Profile (2005), Art Pop (2007) and Landing (2010). In 2010, Spigel also developed Hopper, a site-specific performance and installation project.
Autumn 2012 saw the release of Spigel’s third solo album, Every Day Is Like the First Day, featuring contributions from a diverse array of artists such as Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Alexander Balanescu (The Balanescu Quartet), Julie Campbell (Lonelady), Nik Colk Void (Factory Floor) and the Italian composer Teho Teardo. Live work followed in support of the record, including concerts in France and Israel, a BBC radio session for Marc Riley’s 6 Music show and a performance at Wire’s DRILL : LONDON festival.