Tue, Nov 5
ArtDontSleep Presents Jazz Is Dead

Apifera – Nitai Hershkovits, Yuvi Havkin, Amir Bresler and Yonatan Albalak – bring a melting pot of influences and experience to their second album Keep the Outside Open. When these different musicians come together, the effect is like switching between radio stations: a dash of prog, a twist of post-rock, and a heavy dose of psychedelia, with the members’ shared background in jazz tying it all together.

Keep the Outside Open came about organically, arising from the friends’ hangouts at Yuvi’s studio culminating in late-night smoke sessions spent laughing at dad jokes, goofy names for demos, and made-up words: “Bazooka” when the music is happy, “sweating at the gig” when the arrangement isn’t tight, and “slug” if things aren’t clicking.

Apifera’s Stones Throw debut Overstand was instrumental, but when it came to recording Keep The Outside Open, they felt closer than ever and ready to try a more intimate approach. They let their imaginations run wild, wrapping personal stories from everyday life within fantasy and fictional characters.

“Theodor Marmalade” tells the story of a curious fellow who escapes humanity in search of nature, only to find he now misses the energy of society. The band says: “We all grew up in cities and at some point got tired of them. There’s always a dream of leaving to some secluded spot, but once you’re there, you feel detached from society, however fucked up it is.” Other songs tell of encounters with talking machines (“Mr. Pullman”), searching for a cat called Iris who’s chasing a bat named Neil (“Iris Is Neil”), and childhood fear of the dark (“The Curious Wild”). Threaded throughout is Apifera’s belief in the healing power of nature: “life, even when it’s weird, somewhere there’s a tree I can hug”.

The band’s members all have deep roots in their musical community: Yuvi releases electronic jazz as Rejoicer; Yonatan is frontman for post-rock/psych jazz band Geshem; Amir’s group Liquid Saloon blends afrobeat with jazz funk; and Nitai is best known for his solo piano records, with a 2023 album on ECM (spot the nod to the label in Keep The Outside Open’s tracklist). They call on their friend, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, for the album’s closing track, “Sera Sam”.

Apifera’s new album title surfaced after “we’re closing the outside” was yelled after shows at their favorite local jazz club. They decided to give the words a “surreal twist” for the record: “Over the last few years, we’ve felt the walls closing on our everyday lives, our culture and music. Keep The Outside Open is a call for the world to be open. To return to its free and wild state.” Mindful that this is a heartbreaking time of violence and war, the band adds, “We do not support violence of any kind and can’t fathom how the world today could choose anything other than peace, but until such a time comes when humanity can transcend boundaries and conflicts, we are dedicated to the unifying power of music.”