Saturday 23 May 2009

Three To Remember On Leerraum

(…and more to come in the future of course, as this Swiss label has been producing considerable amounts of materials for the expansion of your perceptive areas for a long time now).


A compelling release by Richard Garet, who utilizes an even-handed assortment of concrete and environmental sources and studio-generated emissions to fabricate a 51-minute piece that doesn’t actually expose unusual accidents or sudden disclosures but is constructed – as usual with this artist – with great care, intelligence and what we always look for in these kinds of soundscape - compositional shrewdness. The contingent aspects of a lengthy track constitute the grounds of its influence in a listener’s mind, Garet deservedly standing among the finest sound assemblers in that sense: extreme minutiae and unrevealed details appear almost unnoticed at first, then start playing a lead role in pointing the music to a direction where the improvement of alertness seems to be the focal point of research. It is indeed possible to depict sensations linked to an advanced spiritual level while avoiding a pathetic self-projection towards the thereafter (the typical error of pretenders). Sounds of rain and beeping frequencies carry exactly the same significance if one manages to dispose of a distrustful view of daily life’s occurrences, and the droning caresses exploited by the composer to set the general mood in “conscious tranquillity” mode are not smelling of marketing analysis. The ultimate outcome is a most welcome evenness, eloquence finally affirmed without the need of shocking or brainwashing.

ASHER / ZIMOUN – Untitled Movement

Characteristically unobtrusive, this outing features Asher working with Leerraum’s honcho Zimoun. A repetitive figuration whose crucial constituents are the echoes of a piano “from the room at the end of the house” (you know what I mean) repeating suspended chords that never resolve, reverberating both in the environment and in our long-term memory. The cyclic development of this essential sonic physiognomy is perturbed by the ever-present, and increasingly emergent in the mix, “urban soul” consisting of a mixture of dampened traffic sounds and suggestively whispering frequencies, apparently deriving from the use of shortwave radio and (insert your computer-based treatment here). The really impressive aspect is the hard-to-believe contradiction between the idea of metropolitan pollution and incessant din opposed to the relieving character of the soundscape on the psyche, which simply benefits of these presences, totally incapable of a reaction or a movement whatsoever. One just gets caught in this spiral of forgetfulness, even bad memories contaminated and - ultimately - made evaporate. A magic formula that stimulates the dormant facets of illogicality, turning them into a swelling impression of near-conclusion.

ASHER – Instability

The inexhaustibly productive man from Massachusetts is here pictured, sonically speaking, in a rather dissimilar context that nonetheless confirms all the exemplary characteristics of his music without renouncing to quality, not even an ounce of it. The essential constituents of Instability – a very extensive cycle at circa 146 minutes on audio DVD, divided into different tracks of variable length - are two. The first is a gradual succession of digitized abrasiveness, a virtual blinding light amidst a scorching tempest of vapours, almost inconspicuous at times then coming dangerously close with the elapsing of time, hissing and sibilating as a boa ready to suffocate the victim. The second, kind of a mirage in between the ebbing-and-flowing waves of static noise, is a barely shifting whisper of synthetic tones, a handful of frail chords attempting to break a cocoon, then inevitably erased by the brutality of the rough wind. The image that comes to mind is a pair of eyes desperately trying to keep watching an unfolding scene while someone tries to impede the act by throwing copious handfuls of burning sand in the unfortunate’s face. The large part of the record is based upon this tangential consecutiveness, as inevitable as the incessant visual rhythm of the signs on the asphalt of a highway at 80 mph, only allowing the contemplation of the remnants of an oppressive past as the future is already ruthlessly looking at people’s illusions. This goes on - with some variation, including bursts of differently tinged frequencies like the wonderful hum starting in the fourth movement - in every subsequent chapter and, at last, the piece reaches its definitive conclusion as the sounds fade away regretfully, suggesting an infinite rainbow arc deprived of the most vivid nuances (despite the appearance of somewhat ghostly birds somewhere in the background after the halfway point). Perfect for use as installation in your home: play loud enough and the title will turn to be revelatory about its meaning, especially with windows open. As always, the mental composure deriving from near-stillness and the feel of apprehensive waiting appear like – no self-quoting pun intended - touching extremes.