‘The music of this record was stimulated by the theory and practice of biofeedback. It is aimed to create a calm, relaxed and meditative mood associated with alpha brain waves.’
Part outsider electronic album; part physiological experiment; part work of art; this is not your average new age record. You won’t find any cosmic or spiritual connotations between the unsupposing and briefly annotated gatefold covers. This is an accidental new age record. It wasn’t designed to evoke images of far away landscapes or induce meditative states; rather it is the end result of a personally developed meditative technique called Alpha Mood. The brainchild of a reclusive Israeli multimedia artist with a fascination in philosophy, technology and sound by the name of Ami Shavit, In Alpha Mood is the result of a personal and artistic exploration to both overcome a personal trauma and push the boundaries of a fledgling physiological understanding whilst utilising the burgeoning domestic synthesizer technology of the late 60s and early 70s.
With an enviable private collection of synthesisrs first started in 1972 during his travels to the US just as they first arrived in music stores and shipped home to Tel Aviv, the professor of both philosophy and art and established kinetic artist was fascinated with art that involved technology. In particular being able to give something mechanical an emotive angle. His early works primarily involved motorised mobiles (he actually installed one in Tel Aviv’s first discoteuque). Seeking to combine his love of electronic music acts like Tangerine Dream and Philip Glass and this new synthesiser technology with his fascination for the relatively new technique of biofeedback – a process in which technology is used to relay information about the body’s functions enabling a change in physiological activity in order to manipulate them.
Combined with his understanding of alpha brainwaves (primarily attributed to a function of the brain that deals with relaxation), Ami embarked on an experiment with what he coined Alpha Mood – a state in which the brain is working in relaxation and in which he used music as a means of helping induce his own meditative state. With practically no formal musical training and working in complete isolation of the Tel Aviv music scene – with the exception of allowing cult prog nearly men Zingale and a handful of close friends to use his private studio – over the next two years he recorded hours and hours of experimental improvised music, or “sounds” as he prefers to call it.
Conscripted into the army evacuating battlefield casualties during the Yom Kippur War following the surprise invasion of the Israeli-occupied territories on the West Bank in 1973, Ami struggled to come to terms with his experiences during the short conflict and lost interest in his work until he came across a collection of field recordings made during the war and he had an epiphany. By adding sounds and battlefield sound bites to the recordings he could articulate his experiences in a sort of cathartic process and was able to put them behind him.
Harnessing this newfound confidence he continued in his work until a longtime friend, agent and owner of a small local record shop called Mango (a Tel Aviv institution at the time) suggested he press some of his recordings on vinyl so that he could sell them through his store. Rather than cull disparate excepts from his expansive tape archive of home recordings, Ami begin work on what would become the culmination of his years of experimentation and the centerpiece of his work with Alpha Mood.
Recorded in Ami’s studio during a handful of sessions and with no post-production, the six-track album was mastered at Triton Studios (who’s previous list of clients included Arik Einstein and Tamouz) and pressed by Hed Arzi (one of Israel’s oldest and largest labels/pressing plants) on his own Amis Records imprint with finished copies delivered to Mango three months later. Only 500 copies of a planned limited edition run of 5000 were initially pressed and with no publicity surrounding the release it was sold to discerning record buyers with little or no understanding of the record or its maker outside of his status as a prominent visual artist. Not long after receiving delivery of these first copies Mango was forced to close its doors permanently and the remaining 4500 copies of the run were never pressed. Apart from a handful of Alpha Mood exhibitions in Israel those 500 copies and six remaining master tapes (including that of In Alpha Mood – the rest having been lost, given to friends or simply thrown away) are the only remaining artefacts of Ami’s Alpha Mood experiments.