Friday, 2 April 2010

Three Crónica(s)


Predictability is a very high risk in compositions exclusively based on field recordings, but with Marc Behrens we can always rest assured that the development of any dissertation will introduce numerous factors of interest. Sleppet was recorded between 2007 and 2008 in Norway and Germany to fulfil a commission by Deutschlandradio Kultur. Either via the concreteness of industrial sounds or through the definite anguish generated by crying animals – be it a flock of seagulls or baah-ing sheep – Behrens is able to confirm is long-established sensitiveness for what concerns the capturing of the fundamental nature of a sound. Close proximity to the melting water of a glacier ensures that a series of impressive rumbles and crackles let us feel like a part of the direct experience. The wind is perceived as a protective mantle, and magnificent singing birds make us remember the few reasons for which life is worth of being lived. Forlorn ambiences become a road to redemption, substantial matters are a link to human quintessence. Everything appears logical, even the unanticipated abruptness of certain turns of events. The vividness of the details and the intelligence of the inherent consecutiveness characterizing the whole piece completes the achievement of a tangible gratification. Solid, sober work by one of the masters of the game.

PURE – Ification

One for the dissolution and/or enhancement of the intellect, featuring a couple of somewhat involving episodes and a number of scarcely significant ingredients as far as artistic validity is concerned. Pure works with samples, which he transforms and extends endlessly, at times even beyond the limit of what’s aurally tolerable. When the guidelines of telluric vibration are dutifully followed, the nerves benefit from the nullification of reason: the infinite bass tones of “End” represent a veritable brainwashing apparatus. Occasionally, the plot thickens in terms of sonic mass (lots of percussion, Martin Brandlmayr contributing drums in two tracks) yet the compositional logic appears a little light, when not entirely missing. In those moments, all we seem to hear is a series of partially successful experiments where a certain kind of electronic nuance is reiterated for a long time, which might be OK for, say, a modern dance soundtrack; but in regard to the indispensable gratification obtainable by listening to a CD, that is not enough. In short, the muscle of this album is superior to its wisdom, the emotional content of pieces such as “After The Bomb” and the above mentioned “End” notwithstanding. The less satisfactory disc of this trio.

GILLES AUBRY – Berlin Backyards

This is a fine work, despite its obviously unpretentious nature. It might belong in the category of favourite listens for undisturbed moments in the early morning (now) or late evening, being mostly made with remote urban echoes – the title and the cover photographs say it all – which were recorded in 2006 by Aubry who glued, looped and stretched the results in the studio. Thus a 48-minute piece was generated, in which the predominant sound is that sort of constant drone typical of the big cities especially at night, a murmuring whirr that – enjoyed in the right circumstance – functions as a wrapping tissue, a protection against negative influence and, occasionally, a stimulator of profound reflections. Therefore, this is not a record that can be subjected to any kind of critical analysis: either you like it or you don’t, and this writer happens to love it. There’s a narrative quality emerging from these obscure soundscapes: one figures human activities going on incessantly while we, as external observers, ponder about the roles carried on day by day, often unconsciously. The whole is tinged with a sense of ineluctability and steadiness at the same time, hundreds of intersections among different life conditions creating a widespread texture of whooshing low frequencies that seem to increase our inner safeguard.