Pita / Friedl: a rough-n-tumble exploration of how far sound and noise can go

Pita / Friedl, self-titled, Germany, Karlrecords, KR099 vinyl LP (2023)

Before his unexpected death in July 2021, Peter “PITA” Rehberg had been working with zeitkratzer man Reinhold Friedl in two recording sessions of improvised music. With Rehberg on electronics and Friedl on what he calls his “inside piano” extension techniques on his favoured chordophone instrument, the duo cooked up a storm with no prior preparation that (after mixing by Dirk Dresselhaus but otherwise not altered or edited) became their first self-titled album in early 2023. The recordings Rehberg and Friedl made have been organised into three tracks “Caciara”, “Chiasso” and “Clamore” after the Italian words for “racket”, “ruckus”, “noise” and “clamour”.

Initially “Caciara”, the opening track, does sound like a real racket but though Rehberg and Friedl are playing more or less in parallel, they do seem to be trading places at times so sometimes the electronics are dominant over the piano and at other times the piano strings are swirling and rustling away while Rehberg’s bubbly sounds are quiet and warming up for their next assault. About the halfway point the music changes tack and from here on it’s hard to tell who’s doing what, though sometimes definite piano playing (of a more conventional kind) can be heard. While the music can be very shrill or buzzy in parts, it’s never completely chaotic and indeed after a couple of hearings it actually does appear quite ordered.

“Chiasso” is a seesawing track lurching through metal-factory ambience with the odd piano plink-plonk note here and there. This gradually takes us deeper into a soundscape that for most of its running time is fairly benign, though it gives the impression of mild disinterest in us tourists as we pass by. Even those seesaw drones, discombobulating as they can be, have no sinister intent in mind. Nevertheless, the noise becomes denser and busier as the track progresses and in the last few moments the track truly becomes a disorderly, swaying racket of noise, rumble and shards of effects and drones. Final track “Clamore” starts off in a cutesy way but after a period of quiet, the music starts building up into a noisy, skittery clamour of bubble rubber noises and saw-sharpening moans and groans, with occasional piano tones wandering about lost inside.

Sadly the third recording session that Rehberg and Friedl had planned on having never happened and these three tracks – all apparently unedited and undubbed – are all we have. Still, Rehberg has left a fitting swansong of sorts by delivering a cheeky and energetic work of rough-n-tumble electronic noise together with Friedl’s piano-based contributions. The entire album is a lively voyage of discovery and exploration of how far sound and noise can possibly go, until at the very end a computer gives up and the two men laugh. For the time being anyway, humans have got the better of digital technologies.

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