Konrad Korabiewski and Roger Döring took about two years to complete Komplex (GRUENREKORDER Gruen 126 / SKÁLAR 001), a sound-art work that involved travels in Berlin and Iceland, much recording and playing, and contemplation…it might be more helpful to think of the work as a dialogue between the two men that gradually picks up steam, although “steam” is the last word on one’s mind as one endures these freezing-cold and deathly slow explorations in sound. Döring plays his clarinets and saxophones at a lugubrious speed, while Korabiewski processes the results in some way using “electronic live treatments”. Location recordings play a part in the finished product too, and quite often the performed sounds are embedded directly in very specific – and very audible – places in Germany and Iceland.
In this regard at least, I’m reminded of the English players Noteherder and McCloud who have often taken their instruments out en plein air, except they seem to do it much more prolifically, producing juicy and resonant sax-electronic yawps in echoing halls and on busy Brighton roadways, and without encumbering the listener with much in the way of conceptual baggage. Komplex, on the other hand, is intent on providing us with a solemn statement about “shifting emotional states and uneasy sagas from the North”. It’s hard to feel much of a connection to the actual places where the recordings took place, and mostly what comes across instead is the duo projecting their own inner desolation onto the world, using the four walls of a house or a factory as screens.
I’m prepared to believe the sites had “personal” meaning for them, but perhaps they could have tried harder to communicate this, instead of falling back on a sense of all-purpose melancholy. The general air of grimness is reflected in the grey-monochrome sleeve art and photographs by Martina Knittel, and for those seeking further visual analogues, one track ‘Flucht’ has a promo video created by Kristján Loðmfjörð. In its favour, I’ll say that the recordings here are exceptionally clear and vivid, and I’ll admit the overall sound of the record does have a certain weight and authority, which may be partially due to the mixing skills of Schneider TM. From 1st May 2015.