PHOTO: Shir Rosenthal
Heaven is available at:
Tel Aviv, Israel
Produced by Adi Ulmansky
Mixed by Adi Ulmansky and Gil Lewis
Mastered by HP
Pic by Noa Flecker
Graphic Design by Dafna Bloch
BEFORE I return to the world of work…
PHOTO: Noa Flecker
I am feeling a bit nervous. Not about work itself- although it always causes some anxiety to fit into a new role/team- but the world at large. I am unsure what has compelled this; whether it general events and news- I am a little ill-at-ease. Having a who’s-who of neurological quirks- from generalized anxiety disorder (a vague misnomer if ever there was one!) to clinical depression- and all that it brings- memory loss and mood swings; hallucinations and bad dreams. I could go on and on- and bore/upset a few people- but I can apply my illness to a real-world situation: the effect music has on mental health. I have always known and suspected music has curative components: properties that can help aid good mental health; ease and dissipate anxieties and stresses- help those with depression and other psychiatric ailments. As I type this I am being serenaded by the by-gone sounds of Arrested Development (remember them?!) and their barnstorming quote-athon People Everyday. Music has that rare and unfathomable magic: it can dig into any soul; reveal who we really are- transport our troubles someone paradise and calming. Over the last few days, life has been getting on top of me: trying to find a flat-share; preparing for new work; having money troubles- it has been a lot of crap all at once. On top of that, I am starting to doubt my own strengths and ‘purpose’- I see others succeeding and happy; what am I doing wrong?! Emotionally-speaking, music can just raise the mood; it makes us smile: it may be a short-term panacea; maybe not a long-term solution. It may all seem like a rather long-winded distraction, yet it brings me to my featured artist: one of my favourite people on the planet- and one of the hardest-working musicians around- Adi Ulmansky. Going by ADI- that is her professional and musical handle- her personality and social media journals make me feel better; inspire me to try new things- I am not the only one. On the subjects of anxieties and mental health; a lot of musicians are looking down the same barrel- the illnesses spur creative people more; music (and the arts) seem like a great outlet- somewhere they can express themselves free from pain. ADI has had her share of doubts and heartaches; stress and heartache- the way she channels and defeats this; turns it something creative and wonderful is to be applauded. Speaking with her- and seeing how she is doing- I know how hard the musician’s life can be. There is always a degree of self-doubt and pressure; the troubles of balancing two rather different lifestyles- the regular life and that of a musician. ADI has a huge amount of strength and spirit: rather than sequestering herself from the world- laying down her music and not engaging with her fans- she is one of the most all-encompassing and direct people I have known. Fans love her music- and love her as a result- and are keen to express how much it helps them- ADI always warmly receives praise; encourages and speaks with the fans. Few musicians reach out and connect; go the distance and make that bond- a special gift from a tremendous artist. Before I continue my point with regards ADI- and mention female solo acts and music of Asia/Israel, let me introduce our featured act:
“All blustering, high octane electronic princess Adi Ulmansky, a Tel Aviv based singer, producer & rapper is setting out her stall for 2014 as one of the hottest talents with her soft seraphic vocals mixed with RnB infused cuts, electronica and rap, stated to “set a new standard for the electronic music world” by Jay-Z’s Life + Times blog.
Her debut solo mixtape (“Shit Just Got Real”, January 2013) and EP (“Hurricane Girl”, August 2013) received worldwide publications like Hypetrak, Mixmag, The Independent, i-D, VICE’s Noisey, NME, and The Guardian, as well as on the local Israeli press, TV & radio stations (including videos on MTV& local Channel 24 and singles in the playlist of Israel’s most popular radio station, Galgalatz). Her distinctive style was also spotted by fashion giants like Top Shop & ASOS and featured on campaigns of global brand names like Nike & American Express.
With her strong and colorful visual style and electrifying energies on stage, Adi is already booked forGlastonbury 2014 and will be touring Europe and North America this summer, with past appearances including CMJ Marathon (NYC), Reeperbahn festival (Hamburg), UK, Italy, Czech Republic, and all around Israel, as well as playing the opening acts for Disclosure, Blonde Redhead, Apparat and more.
Adi also featured on multiple BORGORE tracks like Someone Else’s, and is currently working on a new solo EP and other exciting new collaborations.”
PHOTO: Noa Flecker
In addition to the collaborations and mix-tapes; the E.P.s and releases, ADI has been working on some new material- that will form the basis of her E.P. RAW. After the success of Shit Just Got Real (her 2013 mix-tape) and Hurricane Girl E.P. (2013), the stage is set: one of the world’s premier music talents is gearing-up for the future. See seems so at home recording- whether at home or in the studio- and is love with music and its possibilities. Following her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts- a bit full on perhaps?!- I know she is laying beats down; piecing-together ideas and songs- make sure you keep your eyes set her way. When it comes to ADI she brings to mind two important subjects: the solo female artists and the music of Asia. The Asian continent is not perhaps forefront and centre- when it comes to seeking-out great new music- yet it should not be overlooked. Less well-traveled and documented than North America, Europe (and Australia to a lesser degree), Asia is developing some exceptional talent- from Chinese-born Electronic artists (Fifi Rong) to some great Indian solo acts (Antriksh Bali). Being somewhat disconnected from western music, people have misconceptions when it comes to Asian acts- they expect them to play ‘traditional music’ (whatever you’d associate with their nation) as opposed to popular and well-heralded sounds. As fervent and talented as any other continent, the likes of ADI are putting Asia back on the music map. Being born in- and spending a lot of her happiest moments in- Tel Aviv, the Israeli star seems ay home here: the landscape and beauty inspires her mind; the communities, heritage and history compels her mind- a world away from the hustle-bustle of London, New York and L.A. Not many of us are aware of Israeli music; what the nation’s artists sound like- ADI is flying the flag in that sense. The country is producing some fantastic bands- including Tiny Fingers, Sun Taylor and Lucille- and is a vibrant and bustling musical landscape. The country has some fantastically colourful and dreamy acts, none as effective as ADI: from her green hair and stunning beauty; her hypnotic beats and stunning electronic soundscapes- all framed by her warm and heart-breaking vocals. In this country- and the U.S. for that matter- the female solo sector is quite diverse and busy (more so than compared with the guys). There are a lot of great Eletronica acts; some terrific Pop singers- a whole wealth of rich and original material. To my mind- and it may stir up a hornet’s nest of controversy- the girls are more talented than the guys. When it comes to the solo acts, the girls have the edge and that extra intelligence: not just sticking with dull and formulaic Folk/Acoustic music; the tired Pop sounds- they have that additional spark and sense of innovation. ADI is gaining a lot of attention from audiences around the world: from the U.S. to U.K.; across Asia and the globe, her music is resonating and capturing hearts. Having followed her music; from her mix-tapes to her E.P.s- I cannot wait to hear her new material. Dropped last month; Heaven is where ADI is now: a teasing glimpse into her thoughts; busy and tangling; beautiful and dangerous- so much emotion and possibilities with one a single song. Letting her vocals take a back seat- very minimal vocal interjections; if Heaven is re-worked it could feature ADI’s vocals more prominently- it is a kaleidoscopic fusion of beat and electronics: letting the mood and projection grab the listener, it is a fantastical creation.
PHOTO: Noa Flecker
When we look at Heaven– and what ADI is creating at the moment- it is wise to look back; see how far she has developed- and whether her sound has changed at all. In assessing Heaven’s loyalty and changes- whether it breaks from ADI’s past or carries it on- the tracks Chinatown, Voices and Save Me from Myself come to mind. Recorded a year ago, Chinatown was hotly-received and met with effusive feedback. We all have experienced a Chinatown; know the sights, smells and sensations- by day and night, there is a sense of heftiness and wonderful culture; evocative scents and fantastic people. The bright lights, charming avenues and human masses are perfectly voiced within the track. Whether referencing a particular Chinatown- or evoking something imagined and fictitious- the song has hallmarks of Heaven– in the sense it is instrumental-heavy and hugely atmospheric. The track begins with tinny and magical electronics; teasing and tip-toeing beats- with a blend of Chinese music and modern Electronica. Beat-claps and cosmic electronics conspire; quirky and head-spinning interjections: the entire composition is jammed with stunning details and wonderfully compelling avenues. Robotic and moonlit; entrancing and dream-like, you get swept away- there are heavy and rushing elements; tight and menacing little vocals- all warped in a centrifuge of song. Changing course and direction, the track gets more pressing and heady: stuttering and staggering; booming and bass-heavy. Containing elements of Bjork’s most experimental highs; swathes of Kid A/Amnesiac-era Radiohead- when they were at their most daring and genius- ADI unveiled something truly game-changing. With few vocal elements- our heroine remains composer rather than singer- helming a majestic ride. The song compels the listener to imagine and drift; get inside the beats and notes- picture what is being presented. I envisaged sensations of London; Chinatown by night; the neon-lit shops and restaurants: all the people rushing by; the nose-seducing smells and busy conversations- the traffic providing a static and emotive backdrop. Since her earlier work- through mix-tapes and E.P.s- Chinatown is perhaps her most startling work (at this point): the peak of her creative and composing talents- laid bare for all to love.
Voices continues Chinatown’s head-swimming glory. From the opening notes, the composition dives and weaves; vocal traces are fed between the layers- before ADI comes to the mic. Our heroine syncopates her voice; paces it for maximum effect- such a wonderful and emotional delivery. Whereas most Future-Beats-based artists do not really consider the vocal too much- here it is tripped and riffled; it flows and rippled- never predictable at any stage. ADI’s words look at taking things slow; imploring someone not to get big- maybe a relationship conversation or advice to a friend. That chatter and vocal busy-ness sees ADI asking who she is and where she’s going- looking at herself and probing her own soul. The beats get hard and stuttering; the composition echoes and jitters- an edgy and dramatic thing to behold. She wants to stop feeling scared; reach out and support (the song’s focal point) – offer empathy and a shoulder. Whether it talks of heartache or anxiety, ADI knows how they feel (the heroine/hero); she will always be there- and not shy away. The vocal is often sweet and angelic; it has more lustful and breathy moments- beautifully combining with the potent beats and helter-skelter pace. Never slowing or reflecting, the track remains driving and heady: water-drip samples and water flow electronics; stately piano inject and buzzing electronic swarm- colourful and wondrous, no surprise it gained such huge feedback. Showing the inventiveness and raw talent- that runs through Chinatown and her earlier work- it saw the young artist growing in confidence and ambition.
Save Me from Myself has the ADI hallmarks: the echoed vocals and rushing electronics; some finger-snapping comes in- as ADI lets her smooth voice ease into the song. Processed and machine-fed vocals (male) combine with female vocals; the composition grows hotter and more electric- there is that need to be saved and salvaged. Our heroine is dealing with a lot of s***; she cannot deal with the weight; her head and heart are killing her- she wants someone to hold her; make sure everything will be alright. That desperation and fear comes through strongly: the multiple vocals augment the anxiety and trepidation; the psychotropic beats dizzy and swirl- taking the listener into a vortex of passion and desire. The composition is less full and busy than previous offerings: the emphasis is one the messages and vocals; making sure the core lines come through strongly. That central message is hugely dramatic and stunning; you really root for our heroine- hope things will be okay- and are keen to see her happy and satisfied.
Across these three tracks- and the rest of the songs from Releases– ADI packed in so much flair, passion and intelligence- each song demands repeated listens and close investigation. So much action, light, life and colour radiates through: the tracks glisten and darken; the beats and electronics tangle in a rhapsody of fire and water. It is hard to put emotions into word; properly define the songs: they are so complex and multi-layered; they just demand you listen and get lost. Heaven carries on from Chinatown and Voices– with less in common to her more vocal-orientated songs- and introduces a new palate and storyline. Whereas those two tracks were unique and different beasts- that allowed the listener to speculate and picture images a-plenty- Heaven does exactly the same. If anything, ADI has increased in confidence and desire; her latest track is a little lighter and less haunted- than perhaps Voices is. Whether motivated by her happy relationship; the love of her home land- the results speak from themselves. Not only is she inspired and at her peak; the composition is her most nuanced and entrancing- the finest creation she has presented (that does not feature vocals). It is only a matter of time before new music is released; we see what other gems ADI is producing- if it will update her early sound or continue her more recent cuts. It will be compelling to see whether the tracks (that will feature on the E.P.) are largely instrumental or if there are more vocal-focused efforts. Heaven sees the young wonder throw her mind, body and soul into the machine; let her dreams and desires blend and converse- the end product is something deeply personal and yet open. If it is a love letter to Tel Aviv, your mind pictures the geography; if love-focused, you go in that direction- the song can be interpreted different ways depending on your mindset. ADI’s core sound has not altered much- as she was this innovative and original out of the box- yet the urgency and confidence has increased; I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next- neither can the general public.
With some introductory tease that puts me in mind of Kid A-Radiohead- and tracks like Treefingers– there is mis-step and stutter; an instant evocation of a busy sky- clouds rushing by and the sun rising. As the electronics create a haze and sense of clicker and spark- you start to imagine all kinds of scenes and possibilities. From early indications, there is the sound of a perfect town; somewhere idyllic and quiet- where you can just watch the people go by and not worry about a thing. Adding-in some precise and urgent beats; the song starts to get heavier and more pressing- pulling the listener into the track; preparing them for what’s to come. After the tender and evocative start, an echoed and processed vocal comes in- an electronic cry; sounding like an animal call it is hypnotic and strange. I mentioned the touches of Kid A. That groundbreaking album dabbled with intelligent technology; whereas contemporaries were splicing in club beats and sound collages- Trip-Hop and Electronica sampling/sounds were a commonplace during the late-‘90s-early-‘00s. Radiohead did- as critics noted in reviews- not steal and forge (they were no carpetbaggers); they skillfully employed Aphex Twin-esque styles to create skiffling beats and chilly undertones- songs boasted elliptical promise and rich texture. ADI is a Future-Beats/Pop artist in scene with a fair few purveyors- her vantage point is complete different; her experiences not the same. Whereas Radiohead’s most groundbreaking work looked at alienation and the digital age- forgoing hooks and choruses for something less familiar- ADI presents the sound of the world being reborn. Heaven is not an apocalyptic or life-drained song; it is not the sound of an artist unsure of her strengths and position. Whilst a lot of contemporaries- who play similar sorts of music- lace their song with moody vocals and love-gone-wrong lyrics; ADI lets the music project and effuse- the listener can interpret how they see fit; everyone will have a different perspective. Those distorted/squashed vocal sounds fuse inside something embracing and warm- that is how I perceived it, anyway. The song is impressive because it does not foretell the world crumbling; humans becoming detached- as Radiohead’s Kid A does; and its title track is a particularly haunting song- but instead employs colour and sparkle; so much depth and texture. Little vinyl cracks burst; fizzing electronics; claps and beats- the odd chime and odd little touch. Charming and magical, a more static beat comes in: blending alongside a child-like and innocent electronic plink. The images come thick-and-fast; the mind starts to spit images out: from ADI’s perspective, one could imagine Tel Aviv or Israel; somewhere homely and ideal- where you can bask in the splendor and comfort of the surroundings. Although, knowing her, there could be ideals of music and love: having that passion and commitment, everything comes out in Heaven– the song spills-over with nuance, layers and definitions. It takes multiple listens to fully grasp the intricacies and details- you find yourself going back to the start to take a fresh run at it- which is why the song is such a blinder. When a lot of similar artists (during the late-‘90s-early-‘00s) were creating something harsh- sounding chrome and airless; cold and shivering- ADI makes sure warmth and love bursts forth. An antidote and flip-side of a lot of modern Electro. acts- who haven’t got out of the habit of projecting their demons into their art- ADI bucks a trend; it is glistening and honest; impassioned and aching- you can feel that passion and obsessiveness in every note. There are twists and turns a-plenty: the song does not stick with one sound/side; it mutates and develops. Like a day progressing; it keeps pushing forward- to the moment the sun sets.
PHOTO: Shir Rosenthal
That commitment to the art never fades: you can hear the dedication and focus during every moment; you can feel that passion come through burning. ADI has always been a master of textured and sensational soundscapes: whether it is Chinatown’s bustle and culture-fuse; Voices’ introspection and romantic implore- on each number, you take away something different. I know Heaven (as it stands now) might be changed and altered- ADI said vocals may be added when it reaches E.P. stage. Heaven shows the Israeli musician at her creative peak. Among the cosmic beats and interstellar electronics; sequitur lines and sun-set romance. There is some melancholy and reflection lurking beneath; at times the song sounds sparring and fighting- after a few listens you appreciate the true beauty and mysteries. Intricate and delicate, ADI’s ear for composition and feel is stunning- Heaven is a mood piece that does not put you in a bad mood; it is a transcendent glimpse into a personal paradise- that welcomes each listener in. Accessible and challenging; nervy and rushing, there are contradictions and mixed emotions- everything works wonderfully; it is music that demands attention and focus. In a scene where the public’s attention-span demands instance pleasure and hooks- their minds often cannot focus for more than a few seconds- ADI creates something that appeals to genuine music-lovers. If you do not want to dig down to Heaven’s core; are unconcerned with its true beauty- you may want to stick with chart music. If you want to unravel something of rare beauty; a song that throws a gauntlet out to the world- then this is the song for you. As a producer, ADI ensures the song is not too crowded and confused: every beat and thought is delineated and presented with consideration and care; the lines and elements seamlessly weave and flow. You can hear how much of the artist is in the song: the song is a study into her mindset; you imagine her experimenting endlessly to get the sound just right– anything less would be a disappointment. This perfectionism does not compromise ethics and naturalness: if anything, the track sounds uncomplicated and painless- just a natural step for ADI. How the song will change (when it reaches the E.P.) is anyone’s guess; who knows what lyrics and vocals will be included? As it stands, Heaven is a stunning assured cut- that sounds like a natural E.P. lead-off track- that is a perfect starting-place for new ADI fans. If you need your mood improved; have grown tired of the predictable and stagnated bands; want something more compelling and extraordinary- then you should look no further.
I have nothing but love for ADI: one of my favourite artists around, I could not wait to review Heaven– upon its release, it was met with jubilant praise and impassioned adore. Her past work; be it her mix-tapes or E.P.s look at love and heartache- romantic stress and introversion- in addition to personal introspection- connects with the audience. With her loving personality and colourful locks; her adventurous music and huge ambition- she never puts the audience second; she does not distance them and fails to connect. Her subject matter can be understood and appreciated; her honesty and openness is refreshing and relatable. Being a young woman, she does not just speak and connect with her female audience: her fan-base is mixed and varied; ADI’s music crosses borders and boundaries- no surprise her popularity is on the rise. Heaven is one of her greatest creations: whether it will feature frontline vocal (if it appears on RAW) I am not sure; as it is, the song is hugely exciting and mesmeric- it is not often I get so engrossed in a song with so few vocal notes. So what of the future for the Israeli star? ADI is updating her fans and keeping her social media feeds busy: photos of her recording and mixing; snaps of music-making and plans- she is certainty not resting and sitting back. One of the most hard-working and ambitious musicians around, you can be sure of one thing: when her E.P. does arrive, it will be one of the most hotly-anticipated of the year. With Heaven’s fusions and majesties igniting and seducing audiences, there is a huge demand and anticipation- make sure you are connected with ADI. Before I wrap-up, it is worth returning to my initial thesis: that which concerns Asian music and the female sector; the anxieties and stresses of life- and how music can balm. One of the most upcoming and promising musical climates; Asia is producing some terrific acts and musicians- Israel is particularly dominant and varied. Idan Raichel and Geva Alon are rubbing shoulders with Aviv Gefan and Borgore (who ADI has collaborated with) are some of the nation’s most promising artists. The solo realm is catered-for and impressive; there are some stunning bands and duets- few western eyes are trained towards Israel. We get too caught-up in predictable and near-by music; do not really look across the continents- I fear we’re missing out on some truly wonderful music. There are some great female artists coming out of Israel; mixing Pop and Future-Beats elements; heavier and harder influences- rivaling the best the U.K. and U.S. offer. Whether it is the beautiful geography and wonderful communities (that is inspiring tremendous music) or the lack of saturation- the country is moving through the ranks. Regardless of nationality; the female solo artists are producing music’s finest insights: overpowering their male colleagues, the girls are leading the way. Not reverse-sexism or an over-exaggeration, they just seem more agile and creative; more assured and pioneering- ADI shows all these traits; making music that connects with so many hearts and minds. A lot of us face heartaches and stresses; daily anxieties and doubts- and something to take away the pains. Music is a universal and readily-available medicine; a wonderfully soul-raising therapy- something that can create smiles and happiness. When listening to Heaven– and investigating ADI’s back catalogue- I am always put in a better place. Whether it is her enlivening and direct sound- that rarely retreats or hides in the shadows- it demands attention and reaction- no listener is immune to its passion and insistency. Anyone who is heartbroken and self-critical; losing hope or in need of something uplifting- somehow, her music adapts to those demands. Being someone who is blighted and plagued with insecurities and unhappiness- one of the perils of being a music writer- music is a way to countermeasure to the pain. Heavy and hard music (Alternative, Indie, Grunge etc.) makes me enlivened and stood-to-attention; softer and acoustic-led music makes me think and reflect; busy and multi-layered Electronic music creates energy and excitement. ADI achieves all of this and goes that little bit further: digging deep into the heart and mind; taking the listener by the hand- letting them know it will all be okay. When it is jagged and primal; when the beats and electronics are daredevil and speeding: they are not intended to scare and balkanise; instead, they are intended to rouse the spirits and spike the mind- taking the listener somewhere spectacular and wonderful. Tel Aviv’s darling, beautiful daughter is entrenched in beats and mixing; masticating and writing- gestating new sounds and exciting tracks. With newspaper interviews and fresh praise coming her way, the gorgeous young musician is starting to get her just-rewards. Charming and vulnerable; strong and inspiring- she is one of music’s most special talents; someone we should all support. The music is the most important thing: ADI’s coursing and variegated progeny is among music’s most beautiful and nuanced- few musicians offer so much range, emotion and pure passion. Investigate Heaven and its aptly-titled promise; ensure you familiarise yourself with Miss. Ulmansky- and fall in love with a musician with an enormous future. If she comes to London soon- one of her very-favourite cities- it would be great to see her perform; bring her wonder to the U.K.’s music hotbed. It is only a matter of time before she is riding the festival waves; gracing the national music press (front covers) – and ruling the airwaves. Until then, sit back and open your mind- allow your heart to submit to one of music’s…
PHOTO: Shir Rosenthal
MOST special human beings.
PHOTO: Noa Flecker
PHOTO: Noa Flecker
PHOTO: Noa Flecker