4 Songs, 20 Minutes


About Malka Spigel

Malka Spigel was a founding member and bassist of the Israeli new wave/art-pop group Minimal Compact. It's difficult to trace her career since Minimal Compact without references to spouse Colin Newman, as the releases on the couple's Swim label credited to Spigel, Newman, and aliases such as Immersion, Intens, Earth, Oscillating, and Oracle, have all been collaborative projects. These variously named collaborations attest to a considerable versatility as the pair has worked comfortably in a range of styles, from near-beatless abstraction to dance-friendly grooves and lush, intelligent pop.

With original Minimal Compact bandmates Berry Sakharof and Samy Birnbach, Spigel left Tel Aviv in 1981 for Amsterdam and then Brussels, seeking an environment more receptive to the group's sound. Having signed with the Belgian label Crammed, Minimal Compact soon established itself as one of mainland Europe's most influential art-rock acts of the '80s. In 1986, Colin Newman of Wire produced Minimal Compact's Raging Souls and, subsequently, Spigel contributed to Newman's albums Commercial Suicide (1986) and It Seems (1988). Spigel married Newman, and after the demise of Minimal Compact, the couple relocated to London in the early '90s. There, amid the burgeoning culture of electronica, they set up their genre-mixing label Swim.

Rosh Ballata (1993), Spigel's debut under her own name, was Swim's first release. In the hybridizing spirit of the label, this primarily Hebrew-language album blended Spigel's haunting vocals and a world music sensibility with contemporary dance-floor grooves. The following year saw the appearance of Tree (under the moniker Oracle), the fruit of a proto-trip-hop project Spigel had begun in 1989 with Newman and Samy Birnbach.

During the mid-'90s, in addition to devoting her efforts to the running of the Swim label, Spigel embarked on an exploration of more minimal electronica with Newman. For this project they dubbed themselves Immersion, releasing Oscillating (1994). As well as assuming the names Earth and Oscillating to remix tracks from Tree, the couple also contributed to an album of Immersion remixes, Full Immersion (1995), under the aliases Immersion and Intens. In fall 1996, again as Immersion, the pair designed a sound installation for the Event Horizon show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.

Following a mini-album under her own name (1997's Hide) and work on Newman's Bastard (1997), Spigel's long-awaited second full-length "solo" effort My Pet Fish appeared in 1998. The same year saw Spigel's return to live work. Although she had played a promotional concert for Rosh Ballata and had performed with Newman at the 1995 Phonotaktik festival in Vienna, she had not toured since the late '80s. Spigel played a string of dates with Newman in 1998 and 1999 (with the latter dates as Swim). Low Impact, a more abstract, ambient Immersion album, was also released in 1999 and Spigel and Newman performed again as Immersion in 2000. These live shows saw a growing emphasis on the multimedia dimension of the couple's work, increasingly incorporating Spigel's photographic images.

Her next project was the unlikely pop/ock band Githead. The lineup featured experimentalists Spigel on bass, Newman and Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) on guitars, and Max Franken on drums. All members sang. The group released four recordings: the debut EP Headgit (2004), and the full-lengths Profile (2005), Art Pop (2007), and Landing (2009).

Spigel's next solo album, Every Day Is Like the First Day, appeared in the late summer of 2012. ~ Wilson Neate



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