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About the Artist

Failing Better

Dganit Elyakim

Duration 48.31 | Released March 2016

Composed by Dganit Elyakim

Musicians involved :

Viola - live electronics: Ronald Boersen | Narrator - live electronics: Dganit Elyakim | Acoustic Piano: Teodora Stepančić | Alto: Noa Frenkel | Percussion: Haggai Fershtman | Voice: Adaya Godlevsky | Bass Clarinet: Yoni Silver | Voice: Ofer Marmur | Voice: Shlomo Blumenfeld | Voice: Yehudit Mizrachi | Acoustic piano: Eyal Zaliouk | Viola: Ayelet Lerman |

Recoded, mixed and mastered by Ronald Boersen.

Recorded at HaTeiva, Tel Aviv.

Tracks 7 & 8 were recorded by Eyal Zaliouk at The Classical Studio, Herzelia. Remastered by Ronald Boersen.

Track 5 was recorded, mixed and mastered by Dganit Elyakim at the Stockhausen Studio, Hague, The Netherlands. Remastered by Ronald Boersen.


About the Artist

Dganit Elyakim (born in Tel-Aviv, 1977) is a composer and sound-artist. Her music depicts various aspects of the human and the digital paradigm. Through MIDI protocols and algorithmically based behaviours of the computer-performer she confronts the human musician with a digital based reality. She is a co-founder of the new media ensemble ‘Turing Dames’ and the curator of the concert series ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Coherency’. Her works include various collaborations with dance, art-film, video-art, new-media and theatre.

Elyakim was awarded the Israeli Prime Minister's Prize in composition (2011) and the American-Israel-Cultural-Foundation grant among others. Her music has been featured at events and venues such as Ars Electronica (Linz), Gaudeamus Festival (Amsterdam), KOMA Festival, (Belgrade), Kölner Musiknacht (Cologne), Steim (Amsterdam), Het Nuthuis (The Hague), Israel Festival (Jerusalem), and HaTeiva (Tel Aviv).

Dganit graduated in Music and Philosophy at the Haifa University under the supervision of Prof. Arik Shapira. She has completed postgraduate studies in composition and electronic music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague under the supervision of Matrijn Padding, Gilius van Bergeijk and Clarence Barlow.



Picture of Dganit Elyakim


Julian Cowley — The Wire 389 — July 2016

Israeli sound artist Dganit Elyakim is co-founder of Turing Dames,

a new media ensemble who interrogate digital technology in terms

of ethics and politics as well as aesthetics. The same questioning is

pursued in her debut release Failing Better. Elyakim’s compositions

pitch acoustic against computerised instruments, physical against

virtual performers, probing those tensions and quandaries that may

give rise to the spectre of the post-human. Regardless of its critical

or analytical potential, her music is immediate and punchy, a muscular

tussle with algorithms, clenched and combative.

These qualities are most evident on Lewdness and Old Skool, vocal pieces

that tap into deep wells of prophetic utterance, not to mention text-sound

composition. Failing Better ends with a recitation of the sucking stones

sequence from Samuel Beckett’s novel Molloy — a classic instance of

permutational process embodied in personal quirk. As a postgraduate

in The Hague, Elyakim studied with Martijn Padding, Gilius van Bergeijk,

and Clarence Barlow. If their influence is discernible in her music, it’s in the

articulate strength of the voice she has developed for herself.

Massimo Ricci — The Squid's Ear — 23.06.2016

Looks like Israel has become a fertile soil for experimental composers to grow juicy fruits. This is especially true for those who deal with electroacoustic mutations of reality and mind-altering vocalizations. Most of Dganit Elyakim's work belongs there, but she's more than ready to tear down a few fences. This collection — her debut album — investigates the relation between human and (apparently) inhuman as sonically portrayed by a series of snapshots (or longer scenes, for that matter). These intuitions are rendered tangible through the use of contrasting atmospheres, small degrees of obsessiveness, anguish and perturbed reflection; all of the above represents a set of primary constituents for the listener's focus.

A characteristic of Elyakim's music is its unwillingness to remain unnoticed: don't you ever dare using its forthrightness as a furnishing complement. As soon as a track begins one perks up the ears to understand what the instruments want to affirm, how a mangled text is used as a rhythmic device, how slanted combinations of diverse genders attribute unusual harmonic gradations to a given score (in that sense check the brilliant "Old Skool", performed by Eskesta Ensemble). There's no parsimony in the dynamic aspect, either; take for instance "One On 1.1", a duet for bass clarinet and electronics handled, respectively, by Yoni Silver and the composer herself. Within a restricted palette, Elyakim and her cohort conceive an impressive variety of melodically wavering cut-and-pastes and multi-shaped propagations; still, the essence of the clarinet's timbre is retained regardless of the overall abstract nature. The same can be told of "Dogma I Am God" (note the palindrome, please), Ronald Boersen's viola getting multiplied and superimposed by the deus ex machina's deft manipulation.

We could list additional examples of Elyakim's talent, but that would be pointless. Perhaps the best compliment we can give is that she appears to be a rare case of "jack of several trades, master of most of them". Happiness is finding a sequence of ideas that doesn't sound as a shallow showcase; Failing Better offers a measure of weight and profundity beyond its polychromatic content.



Eyal Hareuveni — Free Jazz Blog — 15.06.2016

Israeli composer and sonic artist Dganit Elyakim debut album offers an overview of her works, beginning with compositions dated to 2000 and concluding with recent ones from 2015. Most of her compositions were performed and recorded at the experimental space HaTeiva in Jaffa, Israel, where she curates the concert series ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Coherency’, featuring some of the most adventurous musicians from the local scene. Elyakim compositions confront digital-based media - assorted MIDI protocols and algorithmically based behaviours of the electronics platforms, with musicians who improvise or interpret her notated music. Often, her works are performed in collaboration with dancers, video artists, theater and experimental film artists.

Failing Better, a paraphrase on Samuel Beckett (“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better”), is full of humor, provocative sonic inventions, and inventive usage of conventional instruments and vocals.  “Lentils (2006)”, where she narrates a poetic, introspective reminiscence of wounded family relationship, is one of the most impressive compositions. She transforms the emotional turmoil into a sonic storm of acoustic piano, percussion, live electronics, and wordless operatic vocals.  Her guided improvisation dedicated to bass clarinet player Yoni Silver, “One On 1.1 (2006, 2015)”, where she plays with him on live electronics, emphasizes the intimate manner that acoustic instrument can improvise with an electronics-based texture, both keep exploring new sonic depths and territories and shift almost telepathically between dynamics and moods. “Lewdness (2005)”, based on poetic texts from the Biblical Songs and Songs and Israeli poets Yona Wallach and Alexander Pen, deconstructs the syntax of the original, suggestive texts in a way that charges them with surprising, ironic perspective. “The Next 31 Seconds of Your Life (2015)”, dedicated to viola player Ayelet Lerman, is the most provocative composition. It begins with about 30 seconds of almost unbearable white noises but it succumbs into two and half minutes of deep silence, that illuminates its noisy introduction in a Cageian way, and resurfaces with a gentle recitation of Beckett text, resonated with gentle electronics.

Highly original and always inventive. Warmly recommended.

Jan Faix — His Voice Magazine — 25.4.2016


Debutové sólové album Falling Better izraelské skladatelky, klavíristky Dganit Elyakim patří v katalogu labelu Aural Terrains k těm dost možná nejzvláštnějším a nejzajímavějším. Je to deska nabitá hudebními sděleními opravdu všeho druhu, ovšem jsou tu přesahy i do textové tvorby a soundartu. To nám začne být jasné už od úvodních minut, v nichž se propojují abstraktní šumové samply, klavír akustický i elektronicky simulovaný a vokály též čisté i procesované. Koláž je to často expresivní, excentrická a sveřepě neučesaná. Později nám dojde, že se tyto vlastnosti netýkají jen zvuku jednotlivých skladeb ale i forem a kompozice alba jako celku. Pokud prozkoumáme booklet, shledáme, že autorka se zde v různých skladbách potkává s větším počtem různých spolupracovníků (v každém z devíti kusů účinkují dva až pět hráčů) a sama autorka obsluhuje především různou elektroniku, live processing a občas také recituje.

Například v One on 1.1 se tak vyřádí třeba basklarinet v rukou Yoni Silver zmnožovaný autorčinou elektronikou, komorní pasáž se ale nakonec vyklene ve splašeně kokrhající klarinetový chumel rachotící nakonec nasamplovanými a efektovanými klapanci basklarinetové mechaniky. Následuje poněkud dadaistická etuda pro šepot a dusivý kašel, ve kterém se nejvíce prosadí nakonec hlas cloveka, který je možná hluchoněmý, nebo má ochrnutý jazyk. Hlasove samply působí velmi zvláštně odosobněně, možná až laboratorně, texty vycházejí například z Písně písní či z izraelských básníků dvacátého století.

Dalším výrazným momentem je souhra elektronického a akustického klavíru v sedmém kusu Powder. Oba party se od sebe dosti odlišují zvukově i interpretovaným materiálem, elektronicky klavír je programovaný, občas pracuje s velkými dynamickými kontrasty, akustický je pak něžnější, lyričtější. Závěr alba pak patří více vokálním experimentům Old Skool je skladba postavena z mnoha hlasových samplů, většinou maximálně v délce jedné slabiky nebo třeba nádechu. Opět lze přemýšlet nad osobností tvůrce či produktora zvuku a i zde koliduje slyšené se zavedenou představou interpreta a interpretace. Finále nazvané The Next 31 Seconds Of Your Life, přináší smyčcově elektronický noise, dlouhé ticho a jemněji podbarvenou recitaci Samuela Becketta, to vše dohromady o cageovské délce 4:33.

Skladby a nahrávky vznikly postupně v letech 2000 - 2015 a jako celek vytvářejí zvukově i výrazově přepestrou kolekci.


Falling Better, the debut solo album of Israeli composer and pianist Dganit Elyakim, is among the most interesting and oddest releases on the Aural Terrains label. It is a release filled with all kinds of musical messages but also text and sound art. This is made very clear from the very first minutes, which include sampled noise along acoustic and electronic pianos and vocals also both acoustic and processed. Those make an expressive, eccentric, and unkempt collage. Later in the album we realise that those parameters not only relate to the sound of every composition, but also the album as a whole. Taking a closer look at the inlay, we find out that each of the nine pieces is played by at least two and at most five musicians, the author mostly on electronics, live processing and recitation.

For example the composition ‘One on 1.1’ is played by Yoni Silver on the bass clarinet which multiplied by Elyakim’s electronics, progressively turns in to a giddy crowing clarinet cloud, evolving further into a frenzy of sampled and twisted clarinet key noises.

This is followed by a dadaist etude for whispering and suffocating cought that is then overtaken by a voice of seemingly deaf and dumb person. The voice samples used feel depersonalized, like coming from a laboratory rather than from a human being. They work with excerpts from the ‘Song of Songs’ as well as 20th century Israeli poetry. 

Another outstanding moment is the interplay between an electric and an acoustic piano in the seventh piece called 'Powder'. Each of the instruments has its distinct sound and material. While the electric piano is obviously programmed and makes use of a wide dynamic rage, the acoustic piano is much more lyrical and gentle.

Final part of the album is full of vocal experiments. 'Old Skool' is a piece constructed from many voice samples no longer than a breath or a syllable. Again, this makes one think about the personality of the person making the sound. Everything you hear collides with the established idea of interpretation and the interpreter. The very last composition called 'The Next 31 Seconds Of Your Life' consists of string and electronic noise, a long silence and a voice reading a text by Samuel Beckett, all of that in a Cageian length of 4’ 33’’. 

All of the compositions and recordings were made between the years 2000 and 2015 and they make a very colourful collection.

[translated by Mikuláš Mrva]