Wednesday, 28 July 2010

On The Instability Of Immobility


My first encounter with Schumacher dates back to 1999, when I nearly became an addict to the guitar-driven Fidicin Drones (note to uninformed drone maniacs: that’s an overlooked masterwork to look for). But the man is not one who stays on a ground for long, and nowadays his idiom is mainly computerized, much less static, always inexplicably fascinating, its scope widened to range between the universe of installations and membrane-tickling acousmatics (the latter aspect symbolized by the percussively zesty, rock-ish “ErosIon”, commissioned by the Ear To The Earth Festival in 2008). Exactly that year, Schumacher had published an interactive DVD-ROM on Experimental Intermedia - Five Sound Installations – which perhaps was too advanced a concept (namely, the involuntary creation of a different aural experience whenever the item is played) reserved only to those who have a suitable setup at home. The limited access to the media hampered that release’s larger diffusion and acceptance. With Weave there’s no such risk: six audio and two video tracks that can be listened/watched with a regular player (the videos still need a computer), which testify once again the versatility and the multihued qualities of this artist’s conceptions. In the magnificent “Loom” we meet the ebb and flow of low frequency, the aquatic character of certain impulses, the incessant jangle of concreteness, synthetic signals coming out of anywhere. “Malaise” is a chain of obsessively repeated fragments including percussive knocks, scalar exercises on a piano keyboard and misshapen easy melodies. “Part Music” investigates the hidden traits and the resonant features of an acoustic guitar (with special preference for the textural tissue of pinched harmonics); the conclusive “Refrain” utilizes micro-flashes of famous songs (is that “Stand By Me”?) amidst autumnal urban ambiances and solitary chords and pitches on the piano, the whole interspersed by snippets from old vinyls and “familiar” found sounds that can’t actually be deciphered (someone is definitely playing tennis, though). Great stuff, like the bulk of this stimulating CD. (Entr’acte)

STOP PRESS 7/29/2010. Regarding the above mentioned "famous songs" and "Stand By Me", Mr. Schumacher emails: the tune is actually "This Boy". Yet another case of delayed Riccian humiliation on the history of pop. Oh, well...

JASON KAHN & RICHARD FRANCIS – Jason Kahn & Richard Francis

These four tracks are the outcome of a restricted number of live meetings between two artists residing in opposite parts of the globe (Switzerland and New Zealand). Yet, by merging the essences of their search for the interior development of a particular sound, Kahn and Francis manufacture a worthy set of increasingly tense soundscapes for percussion, analogue synthesizer, computer and electronics. The opening pair of segments was recorded at the University of Auckland in 2007. The first is firmly entrenched in a semi-regular, unforgiving ringing mainly deriving from incisive synthetic timbres, which after circa six minutes turns into a quaking pulse scarred by various interferences. The second (also the record’s longest) is even sharper - intelligent racket and unsympathetic frequencies dominating for a while - then shifts to a pseudo-static phantasmagoria of clatter and crackle enriched by metallic rattling and a mixture of virtual firecrackers and gunshots, ending with resonant humming tones that change with your head’s motion. We go on with a segment from 2008, captured on tape in Zurich, which exalts the typical escalation – verging on an explosion that never happens – of Kahn’s classic works, enhanced by Francis’ knowledgeable use of his laptop to enforce different gravitational pulls on the whole, under the guise of ripping and slashing discharges of white noise. The last episode (Grenoble, same year) is quite intoxicating, roaring skins and flexible wickedness alimenting a darkish soundscape that leaves no chance for serene openings, closing a practically perfect release in style: the harmony of menace, the incontrollable pressure of an only apparent frozenness, inquietude defined by oscillating daydreams. One can’t avoid being caught up and completely allured. (Monochrome Vision)