Stereo Underground, born Yariv Etzion, has always been somewhat of an enigmatic talent despite his far-reaching influence. A co-founder of Israel’s BPM College, now one of the country’s premier musical institutions, Etzion and echoes of his expertise are already present among the thousands of students he’s taught over the years. It wasn’t until 2009, however, that he began shining a light on his productions under his current alias.
Now, a decade-long track record of excellence in the house arena has led to the mysterious artist’s most expressive project to date: The Art of Silence. The album marks his first foray into longform composition, and unveils Etzion’s stoic pedagogy across its 11 tracks.
The Art of Silence lands on the distinguished Australian imprint, Balance, setting expectations high for the unencumbered debut. Stereo Underground demonstrates he’s here to rise to the challenge, offering up a spacey, cinematic record meant to be savored, to be paid attention to. Its haunting, ambient opener “Flying Glow” toys with empty space, as the title suggests. Sparse soundscapes are punctured by dissonant notes that hit the ears at different angles, making for quite a textured piece despite its minimalism. It catalyzes a deeply contemplative mindframe—a theme that persists through the considerable length of the album. The Art of Silence is certainly evocative of the lonesome, countryside setting within which it was written.
Etzion’s penchant for precise aural architecture enters as the album builds in intensity. No element feels jarring; emotions swirl. “Above the Sea of Fog,” for example, feels a bit wistful and nostalgic, perhaps bearing images of young love or carefree childhood reverie. According to Etzion himself, the track was inspired by a painting of a similar name, created at the height of the Romanticism movement. Its warm, analog synths and cinematic arrangement feel fitting in any case. “Echoes,” inspired by Pink Floyd, is psychedelic doused in subtle melancholy, illustrated through its minor key and undulating, legato notation. “Wanderlust” feels like an adventure, taking listeners on a 7-minute ride that emulates the excitement one gets when traveling to new places.
Ultimately, the album is an introspective, aural meditation. Stereo Underground takes his audience with him as he reflects on his own life and place in the world. In doing so, The Art of Silence urges his fans to do the same.
Order a copy of ‘The Art of Silence,’ out on Balance, here