Terminal motor / music for terminals

[01] [02] Two new examples of the school of indiscernible music from US label Winds Measure Recordings. Richard Garet started composing l’avenir (WMR 12) when at an early stage he was struck by the aptness of a quote on “the future” by Jacques Derrida, and let the concept take him where it may. He wasn’t thinking about wheat futures, that’s for sure. 49 minutes of beautifully still and quiet humming on this CDR, whilst the great Lawrence English offers highly specialised field recordings from Queensland on Studies for Stradbroke (WMR 11). Rather than reveal anything about nature and landscape on this occasion, English’s hydrophonic recordings are claustrophobic and abstracted sonic experiences that fit the identity of this austere record label. Buy this and groove to the sound of “slipping grains”.

[03] Conceptual Swede Carl Michael von Hausswolff offers us his take on Music For Airports with Perhaps I Arrive (AUF ABWEGEN aatp25). A biennial arts festival in Istanbul commissioned a piece from him in 1997, and he ended up deriving huge buckets of sound-art by recording the ambient noises of Atatürk Airport. CD 1 contains the work that was rejected by his erstwhile patron, while CD 2 is four tracks of ‘accepted music’. As is often the case, Carl Michael performs / plays back his work in the very same place he captured the sounds from; jet-lagged travellers would thus have been immersed in these modified versions of the same environment they were passing through. Airports are among the most alienating sites in the world, and I suspect Carl realises this; with the release of this strange and sinister music, the alienating experience just got worse. von H would count this as a success.

[04] Our Swedish man prefers to take his sounds out into the world, sometimes to places where you would least expect sound art to thrive. American ultra-minimal conceptualist Michael J Schumacher has operated in similar-ish zones, as his work is often very site-specific, but he is more interested in pushing against the limits of interior space, summoning amazing and subtle work from the confines of four grey walls. I assume I will find an experience of this sort awaiting me on Five Sound Installations (XI RECORDS XI 133), once I manage to load the software on my PC. Yes, this DVD doesn’t simply plug and play, you gotta install the actual works onto your computer to hear them. And if I had a five-speaker Surround-sound set-up, I’d be quids in. Browsing through the booklet promises such endeavours as algorithmic composition, use of the computer to structure compositions, sampled musicians, processed field recordings, and the usual closely-argued essays I associate with a man of Schumacher’s rigour and intelligence. Minimum system requirements: 5GB. Minimum IQ requirements: 250!

[05] Also on Auf abwegen, Acht Stucke (AATP 20) on which the American percussionist Jon Mueller has his beats and scrapes reprocessed by Asmus Tietchens, the ever-prolific electronicist who pares everything down to the raw essence. Just when you thought Tietchens couldn’t get any more attenuated, you get something as ghostly as this; actually, if you listen closely you will be astonished by the level of detail there is concealed in each flat, grey canvas of sound.

[06] Guido Huebner is another European avant genius whose work I am only just beginning to acclimatise myself with. He is the main man behind Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, also called DSM. On this new release, which has been issued as a four-sided vinyl epic over one LP and one seven-inch, he performs his transformative magick on materials supplied by The New Blockaders. The Monosyllabic Bicycles Tri-Coloured Quadruples (EQUATION RECORDS E=mc18) is described as “a negotiation with each other’s mutual silence, insinuating personal strategies into one of the other”. Actually that is just one line from the very detailed and high-flown description which Mr Huebner generously provides for this work. So far, I hear little of the volume and roaring hideousness that I associate with TNB, yet enough traces remain to convey the familiar sensations of discomfort, dread, and claustrophobia. Luxury presentation in a ‘casebound’ sleeve, 305 numbered copies only.