Minimal Compact

Between its foundation in 1981 and its dissolution seven years later, Minimal Compact  played a crucial role in the European rock scene. Malka Spigel (bass, vocals), Samy Birnbach (vocals, texts) and Berry Sakharof (guitars, keyboards, vocals) left their native Tel-Aviv in 1981 for Amsterdam in search of an escape from the provincial attitudes of their own city. Of the trio, only Berry was a "real" musician. Malka was "learning to play the bass", while Samy was better known as a DJ and a music fan who dabbled in poetry . They recorded a 2-song demo at home, and consequently become one of the very first artists signed to the Belgian Crammed label.

During the recording for a speculative 7" in a little studio in the Belgian countryside, it became quickly evident that the trio had hit upon something worthy of development and a their first, self-titled, mini album was the fruit of this. Their burgeoning style was a heavily Middle-Eastern coloured brand of post New Wave, based on driving rhythms, scratchy guitars and their own very un- "Anglo-American" style of vocalisation. In this way they both prefigured "indie-dance" and later fascinations with so called "world music".

This mini-album (now re-released on CD along with it's successor One by One ) features "Statik Dancin' " which remained a live staple throughout the band's career, and "Creation Is Perfect", based on a text by the beat poet Bob Kaufman.

Minimal Compact 
One by One, the second album, was recorded in London in 1982, and like it's predecessor co-produced by Dick Polak (from Dutch band Mecano) and Crammed supremo Marc Hollander. It includes tracks such as "Babylonian Tower", "Disguise" (another live staple) , "It Takes a Lifetime". With this release Minimal Compact had become a "real band" with the adddition of the native Amsterdammer Max Franken on drums. Now Minimal could play live, this was to prove a strong element in their career. As Minimal began to tour more extensively they went from strength to strength as a live band and could certainly rock any house!!

Deadly Weapons , produced by Gilles Martin and Peter Principle dates from 1984 and is considered by some their most experimental album. Nonetheless it threw up a "club classic" of the time in the shape of "Next One Is Real" (famously remixed by Dick O'Dell, one time boss of the Guerilla label). The sleeve was by Neville Brody.

On this album the "classic" 5-person line up became complete with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Rami Fortis a long time Minimal cohort from Tel-Aviv who arguably was Israel's most imnovative post-punk musician with his solo debut Plonter. Fortis had previously collaborated with Malka on their 7 codes tape (a low-fi home tape effort which had done nicely in the indie shops in Amsterdam).

Touring by this point took them further and further afield, everywhere from Palermo to Kyoto fell to their conquest although typically for the time British success was limited to an NME single of the week and a John Peel session.

Deadly Weapons

Next One is Real
Raging Souls was released in 1985. Produced by Colin Newman , with artwork by Eno/Sylvian collaborator Russell Mills, it has proved their most popular album, with tracks like "My Will", "When I Go", "The Traitor", "Autumn Leaves" all of which became live favorites. By this time Minimal had become established in Brussels and were at the hub of the local "International Indie Scene" which featured at various times, Tuxedo Moon (both individually and collectively), Bel Canto, Colin Newman, Sonoko, Gilles Martin, Benjamin Lew...

As a follow up Minimal Compact recorded a 12" Immigrants Songs (featuring a Led Zeppelin cover) with Israeli Uri Barak. Like "Next One Is Real" before it the 12" received extensive US college/dance attention and figures amongst their most enduring work.

Raging Souls 
The Figure One Cuts was their last studio album, recorded in 1987 with producer John Fryer (Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, M/A/R/R/S). Tracks include "Nil-Nil"," Inner Station", "New Clear Twist", "Piece of Green". The Lowlands Flight instrumental album was released at the same time in Crammed's "Made To Measure" series. The touring continued but their goal of following up their record success in the USA was never acheived as several planned tours were cancelled because the US immigration authorities refused to grant them visas.

THe Figure One Cuts

Lowlands Flight

Minimal Compact Live was recorded in 1987 in Rennes, France, this last album came out after the band split in '88.

Minimal today

Berry Sakharof and Rami Fortis have both returned to Tel Aviv where they have enjoyed huge popularity both together and seperately. Malka is a partner with Colin Newman in the swim label based in London. She has released several solo albums as well as partnering Newman in Immersion, on his solo albums and on their recent live collaboration. Samy Birnbach, still resident in Brussels, has worked with Benjamin Lew, with Newman and Spigel in Oracle and as part of The Gruesome Twosome. He also performs as an ambient DJ under the name Morpheus, and is also an associate A&R for SSR/freezone. According to legend, Max Franken (who never left Amsterdam) still plays drums and football!!

in Frejus

in Brussels

early days in Brussels