Minimal Compact


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When punk and new wave blew up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the fallout was felt on a global level even though acts from the U.S. and the U.K. snagged most of the attention. Minimal Compact from Tel Aviv, Israel were one of the little-known post-punk acts outside of the usual suspects. Formed in 1981 by vocalist Samy Birnbach, bassist Malka Spigel, and guitarist Berry Sakharof, Minimal Compact incorporated native Middle Eastern sounds into dark European rock, breaking ground that groups such as Blancmange and Savage Republic would eventually cross. What prevented Minimal Compact from becoming completely obscure because of their geographic roots was that they relocated to Amsterdam early in their career and therefore found support within the European music community. The band wanted refuge from their native land's provincial attitudes; moving to Amsterdam enabled them to fulfill their dream of international recognition. The group was signed to the Belgian label Crammed and released a self-titled EP in 1981. A year later, Minimal Compact issued their first LP, One by One. Minimal Compact's arty sensibilities and adventurous, experimental spirit made them true cult favorites. By 1984's Deadly Weapons, the group was touring extensively, finding affection from equally idiosyncratic musicians like Tuxedomoon and Wire's Colin Newman, who ended up marrying Spigel and produced their 1985 album, Raging Souls. The band also recorded a session for legendary British DJ John Peel. In America, Minimal Compact received exposure on a handful of college radio stations, namely for their more danceable tracks. The group tried coming to the U.S. in 1987 after the release of The Figure One Cuts; however, their visas were denied. Minimal Compact broke up in 1988. Sakharof returned to Israel, recording on his own and with local underground hero Rami Fortis, who had joined Minimal Compact on guitar in the mid-‘80s. Birnbach became the ambient DJ Morpheus while Spigel continued to collaborate with her husband Newman. ~ Michael Sutton, Rovi