NETHERLANDS SHIMMERING MOODS RECORDS SHM 046 DL/CASSETTE/CD (2017)
Take a stroll along the canal-side walkways; over pave, cobbles or tarmac of central Amsterdam while looking up. Before long, you’ll notice the crazy lean, the built angle just off perpendicular on the buildings. Higher still, there is evidence of cantilevered beams with hooks set in them; like gable-mounted wooden gallows arms. But these are for lifting and shifting furniture or any other large object through the windows into the upper floors due to the restrictive nature of Amsterdam’s bijou staircases. I’m not sure if it’s this which influenced the title of this album, but it makes a nice parallel, in my mind at least.
This disc is a perplexing piece of art/process music from Amsterdam’s Bionulor, a “one-man music project founded in 2006 by the Polish actor and educationist Sebastian Banaszczyk”. In this case, he appears to use the music of Erik Satie as its source, or rather it is “…dedicated to the person and work of Erik Satie”. What is not clear is whether Banasczyk recorded himself playing a piece “in the style of” first, or whether he used a commercially available cd as his source material. Either way, he cites Satie’s Gymnopedies as the basis of the work; he employs his own technique of what he calls “100% sound recycling”. This appears to a very basic form of sampling, but as far as the exact techniques being employed, what Banasczyk is prepared to divulge about his process remains fairly opaque; the gist is that “…every track is created solely on the basis of processing only one sample deriving of a specially selected source sound, without any additional sounds or instruments…”. So, are we to assume that the grist of the work is in the selection process, or in the editing and tracklaying of each piece of sonic material Banasczyk dirties his hands with? Whatever his methods are, they took the artist a long time to perfect; it seems Furniture Music was produced between July 2011 and June 2016.
These arrangements of repeated material with little or no modulation or change throw up more questions than they answer. Banasczyk presents an idea a bit like William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops but without the disintegration. What we are left with is loops. The work can be seen as a monumental tribute to Satie of such extreme purity as to exclude all else. An obsessive’s preoccupation to the exclusion of all unnecessary factors; one man’s devotional concrete slab of approval.
Interestingly, both pieces are exactly 21 minutes long. The repetition of “Furniture Music 1” is hypnotic. To these ears – at least to begin with – it seems utterly unchanging. Later, occasional piano figures are thrown in. Gradually, some modulation is allowed: a warp in the original loop. And in terms of physical change, that’s it. “Furniture Music 2” takes a slightly different tack. Based around a piano figure this time which repeats. And repeats. And… Okay, I get it. I’m relaxed – but now what?
A very limited physical release; editions of only 12 copies on cassette and cd; 30 additional copies on cd, so I would imagine those will have sold out pretty quickly but freely downloadable via the ubiquitous Bandcamp service.