The final new release is by Tim Blechmann, who recorded his piece at Moka Bar Studio in Vienna but it is composed at Findars, Kuala Lumpur, who will get all benefits from this release. This is a twenty-nine minute composition for modular synth, recorded at a rather low volume. I have no idea why that is. It has the form - graphic wise if you open up the file on your computer - of a cigar. Long fade in, short fade out, stasis in the middle. I turned up the volume quite a bit for this, and loved the more violent, louder drone aspects of this piece. Very spacious, yet also very dark, like everything’s been sucked into this dark matter vacuum. I have no idea why this had to be this soft: by putting up the volume quite bit it unveiled a lot more beauty, I think. And at just under thirty minutes it had exactly the right length. Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly 649
honne / sine tempore / ivvvi
The last couple of weeks have seen three new releases on Tim Blechmann’s Moka Bar netlabel, two of which are solos by Blechmann, and the other, which in itself is a set of three pieces again, is a further release of his duo work with Manuel Knapp. Blechmann’s laptop creations have a very particular sound, and its fair to say that there is a considerable amount of similarity between his various works, and they tend to stand as variations on a theme, but the theme itself is, to my ears, a very pleasing approach, and actually quite an individual one at that.
Using whatever software/systems he uses, Blechmann creates huge atmospheric environments as much as he creates music. If this seems an extreme declaration, my apologies, but his music, and these more recent works in particular have a feeling of intense weather systems to them. For the two solo works Blechmann has extended his approach into creating music for surround sound systems, though various other versions, including a simple stereo version are included in the free files you can obtain from the Moka Bar site. His music tends to gradually swell around you, darkening the room, slowly intensifying its vibrations as if leading to some enormous storm. Honne, one of the new solos follows a familiar Blechmann pattern, beginning very quietly, with some of the deepest bass tones possible shaking the speaker cones only just within reach of the human ear, (it is impossible for me to play any of this new music in my car, it reduces down to just the acoustic rattle of the inferior speaker cones trying to implode) and gradually, almost imperceptibly gradually it billows outwards into a heaving grey roar.
In a very simple way, Blechmann’s music follows a very similar pattern to much noise music, a pattern that I have been critical of for its lack of invention in the past with reference to that genre, and certainly the same accusations could probably be levelled at Blechmann in that the same simple arc from quiet to crescendo and back down again tends to drive most of his work. However there is something about Blechmann’s sounds that seem to set him apart from the noise crowd. He uses mostly very softly grained textures, grey colours, like industrial plants or busy motorways heard at a distance , or perhaps that dull sheen of featureless activity that can be heard across a major city on any given day. Blechmann creates a kind of musical smog, but its a multi-layered and finely tuned set of clouds that are layered across one another in ways that just enough transparency exists for each layer to add a subtle tint to the overall finish, but the overriding sensation is one of opacity. In short, it feels to me that the attention to detail here is akin to only the most carefully crafted noise music. This work is finely constructed over a period of time to create atmosphere. Rothko’s densely layered colour fields ahead of Pollock’s aggressive, alcohol-fuelled splatter then.
The solo pieces, Honne and Sine Tempore each last about half an hour and are works of real drama, despite there never really being anything that could be considered a marked event taking place throughout them. They are really quite claustrophobic works and, not having a surround sound system to listen to music on, I can only begin to imagine how they must sound if listened to through such a playback set-up. If Honne has a slightly more gravelly texture so Sine Tempore at least starts from mostly deep almost subsonic sine tones, but later dissolves into an even more intense field of hissing white noise. Blechmann achieves something quite impressive in the way this music grabs your attention by doing very little, creating a situation in which its hard to concentrate on anything else via just a droning state of sound. It really gets under the skin, in a troubling, almost disconcerting way, like a quiet soundtrack to something even more disturbing. I can imagine this music working well played into an exhibition of Francis Bacon paintings.
The three new pieces with Knapp mark a continuation of their duo work. The three tracks are therefore named iv, v and vi and each is a full length work, the shortest clocking in at a fraction under half an hour. If the solo pieces have a very singular, straightforward approach to them, Knapp’s additional electronics give the music an extra edge, a sprinkling of little barbs of disruption, and a rougher, more uneven quality to the background drones. The pair work together really well, both complimenting each other’s material as they also bring something new. As Blechmann builds his grand curtains of bleak, heavy drone so Knapp scatters jagged shards of metallic detritus around, not so much as to derail the natural course of the music through its arcing patterns, but giving the music a new, rougher edge. To reprise my earlier metaphor, if Blechmann’s sound resembles the oppression of an oncoming storm, so Knapp adds the danger and incision of the first stabs of lightening. All of this music can be downloaded for free from Moka Bar, so pointing out favourite pieces seems a bit churlish, but of this new batch the three duo works are the most satisfying for me, though I thoroughly recommend checking out all of the material on offer from Blechmann.
I wrote about a week ago about one of several new releases I had received on the SubJam/KwanYin label’s Mini Kwanyin offshoot. Since then I have been listening a lot to another disc in the series, often just before falling asleep late at night. The Cdr in question is a new release by the Austrian laptop/ other bits and pieces musician Tim Blechmann named Timbre. Now I have written very fondly about Blechmann’s music before. I have always felt a real affiliation with his music, both solo and often in duo collaborations. he has a very particular, focussed sound that, if described simply could probably be described as droning in nature, but in fact, to me at least, has many interesting properties beyond its ability to flatline out. For this release, Blechmann uses a laptop, but also two “structure-borne drivers,” two microphones and a drum. I am not sure what a structure-borne driver might be, but I am guessing it is something that creates physical vibrations from a computer signal, so that the head of the drum is allowed to rattle. I may be wrong however, not that it matters.
Like other pieces I have heard from Tim Blechmann, the music on Timbre develops very slowly. The disc opens with a very soft grey roar, perhaps like one you might hear if dragging one smooth concrete paving slab across another very slowly. There is something both earthy and also industrial about the sound. There are similarities to be heard with the dull groan of the power station I live nearby here, and I have often wondered if my enjoyment of Blechmann’s music has some link to my longstanding relationship with this sound. There is a sublet difference to be heard here compared to his other releases. Somehow there is more of an urgency there, a slightly more hurried feel, a faintly higher pitch perhaps. The roar doesn’t remain the same however, but gradually builds, layers, pulses slowly and shifts slightly in form as it thickens and increases slowly in volume. I rarely enjoy droning music much, but when I do, with Blechmann’s music similarly to Eliane Radigue’s I find myself lost in it, picking up on the slightest changes, shifts in texture.
A little after ten minutes in and we hear a sudden addition to proceedings, a brightening of the music’s colour slightly as the sound becomes slightly bolder and richer, I can’t quite explain how, and there is a sudden. quiet strike at the drum, a single, almost imperceptible hit. This begins a period through which the rough, scratchy rattling of the drum appears, at first very slightly, but gradually, as the laptop sounds deepen and become louder and more ominous, they start to give the music a sinister edge. A bit like the way a speaker system might rattle when it is pushed to the edge with bass tones, the brittle, slightly uneven drilling sounds here give a different edge to the music, something more physical and tangible placed against the gassy digitally rendered sounds. The piece continues, with the intensity gradually building until the music bristles with almost pneumatic drill insistence before calmly deconstructing itself over a minute or so and coming to a halt.
Timbre is a very simple work, but for me a piece of music of great beauty, a kind of almost classical forty-two minute crescendo made of the most carefully matched elements. It is, on a quite basic level just something very nice to listen closely to, immerse myself in, feel the subtle changes scream out at me. I’m not sure how much of the piece was improvised, but I would suggest that the basic concepts at least were pre-planned, then executed in real time. This one is all about the chosen sounds for me, and the slight shifts throughout that feel like enormous leaps if you listen up close. It isn’t a piece of music that leaves me thinking a lot, and it isn’t music that challenges my sensibilities a great deal and needs work for me to find a way into it- I connect with this music immediately. Physical, stirring stuff then, another solid work from an underrated musician.
A single 41 minute piece, steady-state, featuring a hollow drone, vaguely metallic, with multiple striations within. Midway through, grainier elements seep in, bits of detritus rolling around in a great, windswept tube. Not sure of the recoding date here; it’s similar to other ventures in this neck of the woods but really well done at that, enough that I don’t find it particularly tired or cliched. Good focus, good attention to detail, nice sense of forward thrust. As can be seen in the cover graphic, the volume gradually swells; also, the clatter increases as well as some deeply buried harmonics. Enjoyable piece.
The other piece of music formed the soundtrack to my walk home late tonight, in the dark with a cold frost hanging in the air, lit up quite beautifully in places by streetlamps. I played Tim Blechmann’s solo recording rrr which is available here as a free FLAC download, as most of Tim’s music usually is. As I think I have written here before I have a real soft spot for Blechmann’s laptop music. He releases an awful lot of it, and critics could be forgiven for suggesting that much of it is very similar, made up of slow (very slow) gradually building grainy drones. (An even more fitting titled for the release might have been rrrrrrrrrr…) However it is a very subtle, carefully crafted music that is actually (despite the uninteresting image that my poor attempt at description above conjurs up) quite unlike much else I’ve heard over recent months.
Blechmann’s music, and in particular his solo material suggests to me what noise music could be if it was not tied to the testosterone-fuelled need for excrutitatingly high volume. Many of the same features can be found in his music; the slow building of textured layers to a crescendo and grey on grey sounds without any incidental colours. The missing volume allows you to listen carefully to what is happening in the music though, and the constantly shifting layers slowly reveal the detail within them as you lose yourself in the mass of sound.
Tim Blechmann’s work sometimes reminds me of the seminal music present on the first few albums by Thomas Koner back in the nineties, that slowly evolving glacial drift that is full of drama, and yet unfolds so gradually that the changes seem so slight. I think there is a real link to the sounds I grew up with here in Didcot, Oxfordshire in this music. About once a fortnight in the late evening the enormous coal-fired power station that casts a shadow over the town makes a similar gentle roaring sound as the massive chimneys are blasted clean. This sound has been present through all of my life and is a comforting sound that means I am home. I hear something of this in the music of Blechmann as I once did in Koner. Unless you live in Didcot, or near a similar power station this connection will mean nothing to you, but it goes some way I think to explain why Blechmann’s music has a peculiar attraction for me.
There are a number of Tim Blechmann’s solo works available at present along with as many collaborative pieces out there as well. His two solo CDRs for the Why Not label are still available, entitled M and Replugged, he has a release available on Mattin’s Free Software Series label called re-reading that you can download here and if you look here you’ll find more besides again. For me, Blechmann may well really shine when collaborating with another like-minded musician, two of whom are Klaus Filip, (Their release The Organ of Corti under the name of Taus was released to nowhere near enough acclaim a few years back on the L’innomable label) and his most recent frequent collaborator Manuel Knapp. This last pairing has presented us with two very recent album length pieces I have been enjoying a great deal. Imaginatively titled Untitled_21 and Untitled_22 the two recordings can be picked up as free FLAC files, the first from Blechmann’s own Moka Bar label again, and the second from the French label Uzusounds. I’ll write more about those here soon, but for now go and download them.
Tim Blechmann we heard before through some highly experimental and conceptual releases dealing with electronics and turntables. That is what he does here as well. Lots of hiss from the turntable are fed through the computer where it receives a minimal treatment. There is something happening for sure, but it takes Blechmann a lot of time. Too much time if you’d ask me. The release that lasts over an hour could have been easily be twenty minutes and been a nice 3” CDR release.
The other new Why Not disc comes from Tim Blechmann, the Berlin laptop musician who has recently been responsible for a flurry of interesting releases, a few of which have appeared on Why Not. This latest one, Replugged follows in the vein of his previous work which is centred around gradually changing, often low, bass heavy drones. If that description doesn’t sound so great I can only say that Blechmann’s choice of sounds is excellent, working within a very subtle narrow range.
Debut album from the PD master Tim Blechmann (now living in Vienna). Many programers try to show off the possibilities of their programs, instead Tim achieves the most focus and rigorous contemporary electronic music that I heard since Dion Workman.
One thing I do when I put on something that has a Mattin connection is check the volume of my speakers. Low? Right, let’s play it. Mattin curates here a ‘free software series, for the promotion of works realized using free software’. Vienna’s Tim Blechmann uses PD, which stands for Pure Data, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s a kinda like a max/msp, but solely for the pc. His recording may be a live recording, but it’s not that noise related as I expected. A single forty something minute composition/improvisation that I think is based on either processing the field recording of rain, or some internal crackling of the computer, which gets layered and layered, until a dense mass of sound arrives. Slowly towards the end things are thorn down and taken apart. It’s a great work. I could imagine this being a bit long for a concert, but for home entertainment this is a really nice work.
Blechmann, using PD software (a Linux program, if I’m not mistaken), generates a fine, tightly channeled performance. The initial sound layer includes one that imitates a muted, metallic alarm buzzer which gradually bores its way into a wider terrain, surrounding itself with fuzz and hums, the alarm splintering into disparate shards. The sounds evolve but the impelling force remains constant, an onrushing of noise that flows for about half the piece’s 40 minutes before dissolving into some luscious crackles with distant wind. The final fifteen or so minutes are spent in more gossamer areas, all the sounds becoming transparent, insect-like, flitting and swarming about.\ It’s a straightforward set in a way, like a complex gray shade modulating from dark to light, but its object-like nature is absorbing on its own terms. Good, smart stuff.
In keeping with the libertarian policies of about anything established by Basque artistic agitator Mattin, the Free Software Series make use of the chance of producing music unyoked from the obligations of copyright, and I believe that an initial statement better than this fabulous offering by Tim Blechmann couldn’t possibly have been made. “Re-reading”, recorded in a live performance in 2006, is a laptop composition that would not be out of place on a label like Antifrost, in that it’s a masterful exercise in restrained violence amidst gradual mutations. A slowly unfolding, cirriform piece based on granular crackle and ever-growing, sinisterly hissing whirrs which nevertheless leave the scenario they depict available for observation at all times, reminiscent of the most impenetrable aspects of the work of pioneers such as John Duncan, but also early Daniel Menche and - why not - Bernhard Günter: the last fifteen minutes contain sonic data of such a subtlety that it’s difficult to perceive their essential functionality without the aid of headphones or a dead silent environment. Blechmann shows great maturity in applying strictly rigorous rules to his sound, the outcome being a record that doesn’t really appear as a real-time recording but bears the characteristics of a painstakingly conceived studio track. The most perceptive among the listeners will certainly appreciate the infinitesimal reiterative currents that characterize several of these icy passages, underlining through their presence the ripening of frequencies that, in an ideal world, should delineate human evolution. Things that, inevitably, are reserved for few lucky ones.
Première publication pour ce label qui fait l’apologie de l’anticopyright et dont le but est la promotion d’œuvres expérimentales réalisées avec des logiciel libres. Tim blechmann (1981), grand maître de la programmation de Pure Data (logiciel communautaire développé à l’origine par Miller Puckette), se lance dans une pièce austère et rigoureuse qui lorgne plus vers l’électronique contemporaine que la zone de détente. Lancement plus que réussi !
The role of free software in the contemporary struggle for freedom is essential as well as producing content and media with sharing as the primary goal. Using only free software to produce and compose experimental music is indeed a bold statement that has been embraced by this Berlin based label run by Mattin (author of “Proletarian of Noise”), yet detailing on the cover which kind of Linux distribution is used. The label is intended to unquestionably state and prove that free software is every bit as good as proprietary software for this kind of music. In this first release the results are speaking for themselves. Blechmann masterly uses PD (Pure Data) for a meticulous composition that is impressively executed live in around 45 minutes. A rainy amount of frequencies falls with a variable and slowly changing intensity, investing the listener progressively till a quite and relieving end. A small gem in the territory of media freedom.
Got a total stumper here from Tim Blechmann. s_n (Moka Bar 3” CD-R) consists of a single 19 minute piece for laptop and bass. Where, exactly, the line between these instruments lies is not apparent to a mook such as I. The music has a droney, underwater quality, which means that, well, its zeitgeist lies somewhere between Moroder’s Einzelganger and Pauline Oliveros. There is a rumble that increases as time passes, making me imagine that we’re either approaching the source, or that our head is getting ready to explode. Either way a decent enough feeling.
duo with seijiro murayama
Seijiro Murayama är en helt fantastisk slagverkare som bara måste höras. På Kleylehof hörs han jämsides klingt.org-artisten Tim Blechmann, en spännande artist med datorer som verktyg. Musiken är relativt tyst, Murayamas virvel är underbart klar och får massor med plats. Det låter enastående. Blechmann skapar väl avvägda elektroniska omgivningar som aldrig tar över. Gratis nedladdning från Moka Bar. Joacim Nyberg, Sound Of Music
The last release is also by two people but here playing together. “Tim uses several boxes of speakers and Seijiro uses a snare drum as a resonance box, with microphones”. How that looks is not entirely clear - at least I don’t envisage this, but the music deals improvisation in which the space in which this is played gets an important role. This is the most ‘improvised’ disc of the three, as opposed to the other two which are composed. Most of the time the work is indeed sparsely orchestrated with sound, flying low over the surface. When it breaks out it does in a great acoustic noise way. This one is quite different from the other three releases, since its not to be found in the microworld, but in the world of improvisation. Blechmann and Murayama play some excellent music, taking the listener on a great acoustic trip
Going fishing for primary sound cources, Tim Blechmann (using „several boxes of speakers”) and Seijiro Murayama (deploying “a snare drum as a resonance box, with microphones”) catch classic-period AMM in their net. As the cauldron is continually stirred, metallic scrapings sing arias of resonant overtones during the closing stages of a sequence that was instigated 40 minutes ealier by hovering speaker ambience and Murayama mashing his metal snare into the skin of his drum. The musicians cite as their aim “different levels of universe within the space. From micro to macro”, and Blechmann pulls an impressively nuanced range of quiets and wide-aperture hisses from his rig, before refocusing the lens around increasingly elaborate and intentioned figurations on Murayama´s snare. Jobe done.
Quelque part en exergue sur le crème de la pochette, une phrase de John Cage sur le bruit qu’il faut écouter pour vivre une expérience qui lui retirera toute faculté de désagrément. Et la collaboration de Tim Blechmann (enceintes) et Seijiro Murayama (caisse claire) peut commencer à se faire entendre.
Obliquement, l’ouvrage percussif est ici déployé ; son esthétique bientôt revendiquée par un autre ouvrage, d’électroacoustique celui-ci : craquements, grincements, frottements, et un souffle qui parcourt tout l’espace (Comète 347, Paris). Une fois levées les illusions, Murayama manie une baguette : avec elle se débat, accuse le coup d’une pluie artificielle à laquelle le contraint Blechmann. L’exercice de frappe interrompu, l’exhalaison du quotidien et des choses qui le composent reprend ses droits : là-bas, on croit entendre le bruit du trafic même si rien ne nous assure ici d’aucune réalité. Seule l’expérience plaisante aura été palpable : trois quarts d’heure de seconde en seconde.
TIM BLECHMANN & SEIJIRO MURAYAMA haben für ihr 347 (nv° 021) eine Weisheit von John Cage gewählt: Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating. Der Bielefelder operiert mit delikatem bis brausendem Gedröhn aus Lautsprecherboxen und sein Partner mit verstärkter Snaredrum, die er knarzen, sirren und dröhnen lässt und nur auf dem Höhepunkt einer aufgewölbten Soundkurve auch manisch berappelt. So verschachteln sie Störung und Faszination derart ununterscheidbar, dass ich auch nach 42 Min. nicht sagen kann, ob ich mich gestört oder fasziniert fühle.
Drei elektronische bzw. elektroakustische Neuerscheinungen, jeweils auf 300 Stück limitiert, kredenzen Heribert Friedl & Raphael Moser auf ihrem Label nv° (nonvisualobjects): Lautsprecherboxen und das Innenleben einer snare drum sind die unorthodoxen Instrumentarien von Tim Blechmann & Seijiro Murayama. Auf ihrer CD mit dem Titel 347 (nv°21) lotet das Duo diverse Räume aus, sowohl mikro- als auch makroskopisch, und kommt dabei zu recht heftigen Ergebnissen, nicht gerade symptomatisch für die Soundpolitik von nv°.
Its been a funny weekend. I woke Saturday morning in the hotel from hell, travelled home from London, went to work at an unusual hour late in the afternoon, wrote last night’s post later in the evening when really tired and not thinking straight, don’t even remember going to bed, I just passed out. Then this morning while drying my hair I wrenched my back again, really painfully this time and have since spent the rest of the day in assorted degrees of agony. It has been really hot and muggy today as well, resulting in thunderstorms and really uncomfortable humidity tonight. I have tried to write a couple of Wire reviews, without a whole lot of success, and have also picked up a paintbrush and palette for the first time in about a decade, something that has frightened the life out of me. At the same time I have been able to spend quite a bit of time with a CD to review tonight as well, a disc on the NonVisual Objects label by the duo of Tim Blechmann (laptop) and Seijiro Murayama (snare drum).
I heard this recording a good few months ago, and so it feels familiar listening to it again now it has a full CD release. That I have also listened to quite a bit of Blechmann’s music and even more of Murayama’s in the intervening months has only enhanced this feeling. The disc is named 347, a reference to La Cométe 347, the Paris venue in which the music was recorded. The brief liner notes to the disc mention the musicians desire to “improvise listening and organise sonic space together in a delicate way”. There is also a quote from Cage on the back-
“Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating”
This quote suggests that maybe there is a lot of external noise to be heard on this recording. There isn’t really anything that sounds obtrusive, and I can’t actually tell if the music was recorded in front of an audience or not, but there is certainly a sense of space in the recording, a kind of distance between the two musicians that comes through not from the way they respond to each other, but in the spatial arrangement of the musicians. It feels like they recorded in a big, empty space with a high ceiling and long unadorned walls, such is the resonance of the sounds here, not really echoing, just a sensation of a lot of heavy air in the room between the two musicians.
The two do what you might expect if you know their music. I really enjoy Blechmann’s minimalist roars and rumbles. I’m not sure how his sounds originate, whether they are processed from field recordings or entirely computer generated, but I suspect (and I’m guessing having never seen him live) that a fair degree of additional grit and filter is added to his elongated sounds after they have left the computer, perhaps through some manipulation of the speaker cones that play the sounds back. His contributions are as subtle and patient as ever then, sometimes existing when you don’t notice them, building up and growing out of the dense air in the room into huge clouds of fuzzy abstraction.
In many ways Blechmann’s contributions are the perfect foil for Murayama, who sets about his incredibly focussed, concentrated rubbing and scraping sounds, folding them into the sheets of grey, rough textures scattered across softer backgrounds. The obvious criticism to make about Murayama’s many recent CDs is that he essentially works with the same, or very similar sounds on each of them. I suspect that this isn’t important to him however, as it feels as if what matters to him is how he interacts with different playing partners, in different spaces. The intensity of his playing, the meditative qualities of his sustained sounds, only altering in pitch and texture very slightly as and when he chooses means that his music probably wouldn’t just “work” with anyone, but in Blechmann he has found an excellent partner here.
I’m not sure what else to say about this one. The recording feels charged, a thoroughly intense affair, but its also a very slowly unfolding piece of music that only really alters abruptly on one occasion, when a dense period of scraping from Murayama ends suddenly, and after just the briefest of pauses Blechmann restarts the music with a heavy industrial roar, maintaining the general feel of the music but still shifting the tone slightly to one side. I guess this is an album that will either appeal to you a lot, as it does me, or will maybe do the opposite. There isn’t any great display of instrumental pyrotechnics on show, the extended sounds used still don’t really become a drone as you might expect, and there is enough room interference to annoy those that demand crystal clear recording. 347 really is what it is, a very specific, unusual meeting of two musicians with very individual modus operandi that could only be made by these two people at this place and time. For me it works very well indeed, setting up mental images of that place and time, pulling me into the tension in the room as if I were there. Its intense, rather austere stuff though, keep away if not your cup of tea, otherwise don’t miss out.
Recorded in Paris at La Comète 347, this CD presents an episode of the activities of Blechmann and Murayama intent in capturing different types of resonance in a large room, aiding themselves by various boxes of speakers and a snare drum. This is a classic case of document that exists just as a testimony of a live event, for getting tangible aural satisfaction from these successions of charged silences, diminutive noises and percussive patterns at home is not warranted (unless you’re a member of the “anything goes” reductionist party). What I did welcome instead was the hushed echo of the urban and inside environment caught by the microphones (including the alarm of an ambulance that, at one point, keeps company for a while until it dies – the alarm, not the transported person, hopefully). Nothing much to say in addition, except that we’re convinced by the seriousness of the intentions, but not overly enthusiastic due to the scarce depth of the acoustic messages.
Wieder einmal verzaubert uns das österreichische nvo Label mit organisierter Stille. Das Duo Blechmann/Murayama packt Klänge in Boxen: Blechmann operiert mit Lautsprecherarrangements, Murayama mit einer Snare Drum. Ein säuselndes Wispern erklingt zunächst – mehr nicht. Vorsichtig schwilt ein Rauschen an, bleibt aber in den unteren Lautstärkebereichen. Ganz allmählich baut sich ein Klappergeräusch, wie von einem rotierenden Eimer oder einem kullernden Fass auf, welches sich in die Mitte des Hörfeldes spielt. Auch dieser Klang bleibt aber gedämft, wie das Echo seiner eigenen Charakterzüge. Wenig später ist dieser konkrete Moment wieder verflogen. Die eigentliche “Musik” birgt wenig Reize: spannend an dieser Produktion ist, wie sie mit minimalem Aufwand eine neue akustische Situation zu schaffen vermag. Nach Beendigung des Hörvorgangs lauscht man anders, sinniert über die Flüchtigkeit und die Raumabhängigkeit von Sound nach. Zumindest kurz. Musik für zum Hören, wie wahr!
»347« als erste CD widmet sich der Interpretation von sonischem Raum, erkundet in einer knapp vierzigminütigen Improvisation. Der Klang ist dezent, fast schon livetechnisch rückgenommen, als gelte es, den 0db-Bereich mittels leiser Annäherung zu finden. Die Improvisation lebt vor allem von Resonanzen, gestrichene Holzklänge phasern durch ein natürliches Setup von speziellen Lautsprecherboxen, während im Hintergrund tiefe und mittelfrequente Klanganteile durchkommen und mehr oder weniger laut die rhythmische Holzbearbeitung über- bzw untermalen. »347« bedient das Konzept des sonischen Raumes recht gut, gerade im späteren Verlauf des Stückes, dem dronale Abläufe zugefügt werden, zeigt sich eine seltsam sphärische Koherenz der einzelnen parallel ablaufenden Klangfelder. Am Ende versinkt die gesamte Improvisation publikumswirksam im rosafarbenen Rauschen der Räume und hinterlässt für eine Sekunde eine gewisse Leere im Ohr.
Taus (Tim Blechmann & Klaus Filip)
I have been admirer of the work of Tim Blechmann, the German (but long time resident of Vienna) laptop improviser and very much enjoyed the CD he released a few years back on the L’innomable label as one half of the duo Taus alongside Klaus Filip, also from Vienna, and also a laptop improviser. I was then, exceptionally pleased to hear that the duo were to release their second album on the Another Timbre label. Pinna is that album, a fifty minute long unedited live set recorded in July 2010. Both of these musicians have always impressed me for their singular, very focussed vision for their music. Both work with a very minimal palette, Blechmann usually with a finely tuned array of muted grey fields of fuzzy white noise, Filip most commonly with sinetones. They both also are completely comfortable with the technology they use and their music is rooted entirely in the discourse of the laptop as instrument. They make no attempt to mimic other instruments or to throw firework displays of technological possibility. For me both of these musicians utilise a methodology in their playing as simple as someone like Radu Malfatti (with whom Filip regularly plays) or Sean Meehan. They make powerful music with very simple gestures.
From the outset of Pinna another key element to the work of these two is apparent, the presence and feel of the room in which they perform. I had never managed to see Blechmann play live, though have seen Filip a few times, but both musicians I think it is fair to say seem to feed off of the tone of the room around them. Their music seems to grow out of the hum of air conditioning, the murmur of an audience trying to be quiet, the city outside of the recording space, the murky, featureless detritus that we leave behind as a human race. The first hiss of Blechmann, the first honeyed swell of Filip rise out that familiar sound of a hushed concert space, the early sounds they make, at very low volume and almost inseparable from the sounds of the room. The duo’s sound grows into a dense swell, as happens often throughout the album, but somehow dissipates in ways that seem almost imperceptible. One minute we are hearing a deep grey rumble and a rich tone, the next both have slipped to vitally nothing, or Blechmann has moved to small, nearly inaudible prickly sounds and Filip’s glassy tones may had become transparent. The music is constantly shifting, glacially slow, to the point that when things disappear you don’t notice, and often only when there are sudden dilations of the sound as one or the other musician might expand their contribution. Brilliantly, in an interview with Tim Blechmann for the Another Timbre website, Simon Reynell describes the pace of the music as “like waiting for New Zealand to bump into Chile”. Despite the way the music seems to become a natural, if very gradual flow out of the environment the interplay between the two is still apparent, and there is a tension to the way the two sounds come together, often mushrooming together into deathly slow motion drama. Listening closely to the music, the interconnections between the two musicians, as I have quite often over the past week or so is greatly rewarding, you can get lost in the clouds of grainy tone or you can follow their threads through each other and hear them as two conversing voices.
Pinna is great. It appeals so closely to my own personal preferences in music, a lightness of touch, a sense of restraint rather than busyness, the strands of musical conversation left open on the surface and yet all done with an understated humility. The inside sleeve of what is maybe the nicest example of Another Timbre packaging yet also sums it up, a dense mass of scribbled lines, at first seemingly chaotic, but at closer inspection neatly distributed and containing some sense of order, albeit perhaps only a perceived one. Lovely, lovely music then.
For someone with so restricted an improvising vocabulary – sinewaves and almost nothing else – Klaus Filip has built quite an impressive discography. The clue lies in its relative slenderness, evidence of his prudent choices in playing partners and contexts: lustrous drones for Los Glissandos quintet with clarinettist Kai Fagaschinski; disciplined, tonally rich exchanges with Toshimaru Nakamura on Aluk; and rigorous harmonic research conducted in the company of Radu Malfatti on Imaoto.
Those duos locate and calibrate often minute gradations of movement, texture and contrast within narrowly defined parameters. Not coincidentally, this is also the strength of Pinna, a 50 minute duo with laptopper Tim Blechmann recorded in a Viennese church in 2010. Blechmann is the more active of the two, counterpointing Filip’s wafer-thin tones with striated, fizzing frequencies and gritty bass rumble. His contributions give the album a relatively expansive sweep, as well as an undulating, linear momentum, with clusters of louder, busier passages linked by passages of elongated static that seem to arc and slide at the same time. True to type, they build to a sustained, noisy climax in the last ten minutes. The performance recording is lightly pockmarked with audience noise in the form of sundry bangings and clatter. They helpfully complement its digital textures, imbuing them with a sense of dimension while grounding them in a physical space.
nick cain, the wire
Sous le nom de Taus (Tim & Klaus contractés), Blechmann et Filip marient – en concert donné en 2010 en l’église St Ruprecht de Vienne – des éléments d’un langage qu’ils ont en commun (ces crescendos / decrescendos requérant patience que Filip envisagea avec Radu Malfatti sur Building Excess et Imaoto, ces respirations mêlées à des références à la nature que Blechmann pensa par exemple avec Seijiro Murayama sur 347).
Cet ouvrage de laptops, qui tient du recueillement tant il est concentré, célèbre avant tout la malléabilité des sons dont est capable l’instrument : les basses agissent au sol, les larsens annoncent l’apparition d’aigus moins irritants dont les interférences scinderont les pistes d’évolution afin de créer des voies secondaires qui, à force de retours et de trajectoires fluctuantes, pourront se recouper. Pour que l’exercice ne soit pas sans fin, Blechmann et Filip peuvent interrompent quelques-uns de ces chants réverbérés : le silence reprend alors sa place, le duo laissant le champ libre à la rumeur d’une église dont il a transformé le décorum ou aux piaillements d’oiseaux qui ne font que passer au large de leurs paysages magnétiques.
Pinna is the outer part of the ear, by the way; fine title. And a fine recording. But fine in a way that always causes me to be at pains to quantify. Two laptops, a live 50+ minute performance of the general type that I think of as “steady state” rather than drone, though don’t ask me to differentiate. It does take the shape of a crescendo though it’s long enough in coming that the dramatic effect is felt before consciously perceived. Label producer Reynall had queried me on these pages a short while back as to what was meant by my (too frequent!) use of the term “grain” when describing some music or, conversely, feeling a piece was excessively smooth. Here’s a case in point, though it might well be entirely subjective–although on the one hand there’s an evenness here, a “smooth” shifting of planes, a continuity of action, I sense grain everywhere. It may be fine-grained (!) to the point of sublimation but it’s there.
It idles beguilingly for a good bit at the start, several layers biding their time, gathering energy; it’s very much like standing near an extremely subtle motor, gradually realizing how much stuff is happening, how well integrated it is to fool you into thinking, for a moment, that it’s one thing. It gestates for a good while, circling, softly rumbling, high, sine-like tones coasting atop, splitting apart, isolated bangs heard in the distance. Those keening tones almost take on a melodic aspect at points, quite beautiful. Second gear doesn’t kick in until some 4/5 pf the way through but it’s timing feels just right. Gentle, sonar-like blips manifest, the whole thickens and grows wooly. The crest is mild, not overblown, the subsidence relatively quick.
In sum, just a very, very satisfying experience and a seriously enjoyable hunk of music.
Pinna also runs the gamut, from near silence to staggering volume, although its soundworld is quite different. This is a live recording of a concert given at a church in Vienna, and, unlike The Organ of Corti, Tim Blechmann and Klaus Filip’s 2007 disc on L’innomable, the space is integral to the duo’s sound, and the first-rate recording ensures we’re immersed in it. Blechmann and Filip’s fairly limited sound palettes combine astonishingly well, as single sounds coalesce and arch to a dull roar, all sense of environment subsumed in an a powerful, almost glacial wave. All areas of the pitch spectrum are explored, and good loudspeakers (or decent headphones) are especially important to appreciate fully this beautiful and powerful music. In its rawness at climactic moments, Pinna is different from anything either has done before. Don’t expect, for example, the sparser textures and subdued shifting plains of Filip’s imaoto with Radu Malfatti from two years ago. Nor does it rival his noisier excursions with Manuel Knapp, but fills the soundstage in the same way, punctuated by soft but sinewy tone clusters reminiscent of Cage’s number pieces.
Searching for information about this duo turned up several definitions for their combined moniker, including the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and a bowed string instrument from India. Neither of which seems to have much to do with the disc at hand. At least not overtly. I suspect the name comes from a combination of the letters of the two members names.
Tim Blechmann and Klaus Filip both play laptops on this live recording from 2010. At first it sounds like a field recording of a largish room; a shuffle here, a muffled cough there suspended in a very quiet tone, maybe a far-off generator or other building machinery. Gradually a higher pitch enters and swells, now two pitches entwine, like a braid, a thick chord. Rumblings and a bit more footfall, a conjured thunder. Perhaps a bit of traffic noise from outside the venue.
It’s difficult to tell what’s being “played” and what’s just happening, and therein lies the charm. This could easily be a recording of someone walking around inside a large industrial building, somewhere between the walls where all the inside and outside sounds are muffled and combined. Ever so gradually things start to heat up a bit, low and high pitches joined by a sibilant hissing with a ruffled edge, and those background bangs and whiffs pop in every so often. The hiss grows up and the bass end drops out, replaced by a series of tones that hover in the foreground and then shimmer back and forth, each new tone beginning louder and then fading back into the general chord-age. It all makes perfect sense and is a good example of contemporary improvised music. EAI? Maybe. Ears? Most definitely.
“(The artist) creates a quiet music in order to give himself and his listeners the opportunity to hear more, and better.”
I lifted that quote from the notes to Jakob Ullmann’s fremde zeit addendum, but it could equally apply to Pinna; likewise an exhortation to play the record at a volume that “barely mask(s) the ambient sounds in the room”.
Pinna was performed live in Vienna in July 2010 by Tim Blechmann and Klaus Filip of Taus, both using laptops.
In a revealing interview for Another Timbre, Blechmann explains the pains Taus took to create a unique “sonic space” within the small church hosting the concert:
“Klaus uses only sine waves, while I am playing noise textures and crackle sounds…For Klaus’s sine waves, it doesn’t really matter where you place the speakers, but he always likes to have a subwoofer to be able to play very low-frequency sounds. But for my noise textures, the placement of the speakers matters a lot because they are very easily locatable, and I try to play different sounds on different speakers.”
Given that attention to spatial specifics, and the fact that the recording wasn’t originally intended for release, it’s remarkable how absorbing the final product is, and it’s no surprise that Blechmann and Filip are pleased with it.
“The microphones captured the sound from the speakers, the reverberation of the space…and all kinds of environment sounds like birds, audience movements, people passing by, etc. It was probably one of our most relaxed concerts. As it was a rather hot weekend in July, not so many people came…and therefore the situation was very concentrated.”
The result is one of the most atmospheric recordings I’ve heard.
With the performance beginning at the sensory threshold, the listener is drawn in by the close-captured environmental sounds, such as birds on the wing. And with playback at normal volume settings, the first two thirds of the recording seem to pass almost subliminally, any consciousness of local background noise falling away. The gradual amplification of low frequency sound then subsumes silence, while Blechmann’s textures, ghosted by Filip’s sine waves, hold the ear.
«Pinna», или «Ушная раковина» по-русски, — второй и последний альбом дуэта Тима Блехманна (Tim Blechmann) и Клауса Филипа (Klaus Filip), в котором оба играют на лаптопах. Как мне оба недавно признались, их пути разошлись, и музыкальные интересы стали трудносовместимыми. Оба используют сильно урезанный звуковой материал, Клаус — только синусоиды, Тим — низкий гул и щипяще-хрустящие текстуры, которые прекрасно смешиваются и получается довольно монолитный звук на фоне окружающих звуков в помещении и с улицы, за что можно сказать спасибо Томасу Гриллю (Thomas Grill), записавшему концерт на свой рекордер, благодаря которому еще передается атмосфера концерта. Характерная особенность их музыки — статика, отсутствие движения, хотя в середине альбома и есть некое подобие кульминации. Они то добавляют, то убавляют количество слоев синусоид, гула и текстур, то уходят вниз, то взлетают ввысь, иногда появляется нечто вроде мелодии, хотя никакой мелодии нет. Целых 50 минут крайне приятного дроуна, стоит признаться, что я иногда прослушиваю альбом на повторе по нескольку раз, довольно поглощающая и засасывающая в себя музыка. Крайне абстрактные и холодные звуки могут создавать довольно теплую, уютную и человечную атмосферу. Отличная работа!
Taus, the duo of Tim Blechmann and Klaus Filip, get a gold star for patience. Pinna -a live recording from a small Viennese church-is 50 minutes of quietly, carefully added and subtracted layers of sine waves. The restraint on display as each musician gently goads various sonorities out of their laptops is impressive, even in an era where musicians no longer fear silence or tiny, cumulative gestures. The recording captures the feel of the concert well, during which speakers were strategically placed in the church and sounds were allowed to refract and diffuse throughout the space. Pinna was probably far more impressive for those in attendance, but it offers some pleasures if you can set aside a quiet hour with a good sound system.
Då vi talar om reduktion vad gäller akustiska instrument motsvaras den av en elektronisk scen där inte mycket mer än sinusvågor återstår. Det finns en närsynthet, en fokusering på de minsta skillnaderna, de mest omärkliga rörelserna och ett ljud som mer ligger som ett stilla summande bakom alla andra ljud. Det är som om bara kroppens egna ljud återstod, som om alla ljud skapades i en tillfällig ekokammare inne i vårt huvud.
Bland dessa närsynta stigfinnare måste jag nämna Christof Kurzmann, Dieb 13 och inte minst Klaus Filip, elektronmusikens närmsta motsvarighet till Ryoji Ikeda. Det betyder alltså att staden Wien är en bas; med starka avgörande band till Berlin. Och med tanke på den österrikiska litteraturens, konstens och musikens extravaganta uttryck pendlande mellan hat, avsky, offer, smärtsamt avståndstagande från både katolicism och ännu icke rentvättat byk från 30- och 40-talet, om jag har detta i huvudet låter denna musik som ett syrabad efter Wien-aktionisterna och Thomas Bernhard. Det som återstår är hudlöst men härdat.
Hårdsmitt med ryggen utåt. För till skillnad från folk som Bernhard eller Jelinek finns nästan ingen vokabulär som vänder sig till publiken. Det är som om ingen adressat fanns.De har dragit sig tillbaka, suveräna härskare över sinusvågor, elektronik och studioarbete. Detta är musik – jag höll på att säga – av och för eremiter.
Som ett pelarhelgon sitter jag då – eller är det musikerna – och försjunker i duon Blechmann och Filip. Den senare är mer återhållsam, kör strikt schema med sinusvågor, den förre fyller liksom ut dessa rörelser. Ett brus med en bismak av skärpa är resultatet. Ingen pausering, ingen rytmisering, bara ett uns av nyansering. Det är ungefär som att undersöka när ett tecknat streck förvandlas till horisont. Här håller de sig till det enkla strecket, den elementäraste teckningen och aktar sig noga för att förledas till minsta förvandling. Abstraktion är till för att hållas. Händerna ska ligga på täcket!
Och det är i detta limbo denna musik skapas. Jag säger inte att det är bra, den undandrar sig sådana kategorier, jag säger inte att den är underhållande, för det är vi själva som får underhålla musiken med tankar att detta ljudbrus är något mer än bara ljudbrus. I minne håller jag oavbrutet: detta görs av två människor. Vad fruktar de? Vad förväntar de sig?
Så tilltar koncentrationen och halvt i dröm och halvt i vaka har jag slutit ögonen om detta lätt flyktiga ljudmoln. Sinustonen dröjer kvar som om jag hade tillfällig tinnitus. Eller som stämton för de närmsta timmarnas sinnesstämningar. Jag blir inte kvitt tanken på den envishet varmed Blechmann och Filip genomför sitt ljudprojekt. Inte ett enda påstående får de ur sig. Bara undran… Ingen tvekan att jag berörs. Jag tar tillbaka vad jag skrev om adressat tidigare. Thomas Millroth
The Organ of Corti
No instruments are mentioned on the cover of ‘The Organ Of Corti’ by Taus, the duo of Tim Blechmann and Klaus Filip. But me thinks that it’s a duo of laptops, no input mixers and perhaps a turntable. That’s about what I could detect on their release as sound sources. Things peep, scratch and hum for about fifty one minutes, but that may sound a bit unfair. Taus do a very fine job I’d say. They built up their pieces from just a few sounds, but let them develop in a natural manner, give them space and they grow. Then they take back sound, close in the space and it seems that the music is disappearing again. When almost silent, they start again. Taus easily takes minutes to let theme’s explore, but then the result is a great one. Music that you should hear rather loud; loud in the loudest parts, but then the softest parts also become audible. The music will wash over the a warm flow of water. Rather than full concentration, it’s best to enjoy this with eyes closed, headphone and on repeat.
Yet another laptop recording, the reviewer sighs. Isn’t it incredible how poor the chances of creating interesting exhalations with such powerful machines have become? A sort of inverse proportion between the technical possibilities of the cold tool and sheer - although often absent - creative ability. But with Taus (Tim Blechmann and Klaus Filip) it’s different, the diversity lying in a verb: unfold. If we want to have an example of computer music that “unfolds”, this is it. It does so pretty slowly, gradually going through passages of slight change where a couple of components are enough, in several occasions, to elicit the feel of a natural environment. Interminable slopes - similar to infinite feedback, or is it? - over which the body of these sound waves elongates characterize large chunks of the piece, seemingly portraying a peculiar life cycle. The noise generated by the performers is associable to biological constituents rather than complex machinery and, what’s all the more important, leaves time to the mind to adapt to a sonic setting before shifting the focus to the next. What’s too commonly noticed in this kind of release is a thorough lack of direction, resulting in a gang-bang against our artistic perception, the commercialization of a hypocrite freedom of expression hiding veritable incapability. Filip and Blechmann know what they’re doing in every moment instead: one only needs to observe the masterful consecutiveness of absorbing sonorities that this work presents. Elements that might not be new - although certain low frequencies starting around minute 17 are among the most engrossing I’ve heard in recent times - yet employed with extreme cleverness, the whole producing a very satisfying outing under any angle.
Taus (Tim blechmann & Klaus Filip) au tout électronique pour une pièce minimaliste, fantômatique et obsessionnelle. Souffles, fréquences croisées, beat et buzzs, crépitements, larsens et sons tenus, craquements et bruits d’masse, le tout nappé de bruit blanc. Électricité, psychophysique et cohérence perceptive.
Ottima l’etichetta slovena L’Innomable che pian pianino si è ritagliata un suo posto nell’ambiente avant europeo grazie ad una serie di uscite interessanti in cui sono stati coinvolti artisti di primo pelo (su tutte la collaborazione Dorner/Capece e la simil orchestra di Mark Wastell). In ultimo, abbiamo tra le mani il duo Tim Blechmann & Klaus Filip, nel loro progetto denominato taus (scritto in piccolo): “The organ of corti” è una lunga traccia, tocca i cinquanta minuti, che vive però di diversi momenti, senza continuità, divisi da lunghe fasi di silenzio. Gli elettronics di Blechmann e Filip viaggiano insieme tracciando linee parallele che percorrono però territori opposti, rumoroso l’uno, melodico l’altro (certo minimalismo storico), soprattutto nella parte iniziale, in cui le sonorità dei due si sovrappongono ma rimanendo di fatto autonome; via via che ci si addentra nel disco le personalità di Blechmann e Filip vengono però ad incontrasi sul comune terreno dell’elettronica minimale, fino a confondersi in un silenzio non-definitivo da cui, come un elettrocardiogramma sonoro, lentamente ed inesorabilmente si torna a mandare segnali vitali.
duo with Manuel Knapp
When last heard from (by me), only a couple of months back, mssrs. Blechmann and Knapp had produced a work titled “VIII”, a lengthy, droning surge that was ok if a bit thin in substance. This one has some of that feeling, but more structural variation and more reverberant, vibratory kind of sound. I just happened to have rewatched ‘Stalker’ for the third time the other evening; not sure if I would have attached a Stalker-ish aspect to this music had I not but, well, you could do worse for comparisons. It’s bleakly industrial, a barely functioning factory in the wee hours, sluggishly in motion, lights barely flickering. It combusts now and then, sizzles for a bit, subsides. Blechmann and Knapp do a really good job reining in any potentially showoff-y or spectacular urges, keeping things multiple shades of gray, richly layered. Good job, strong work.
I have for quite a while been a staunch supporter of the work of Tim Blechmann in these pages, and his ongoing collaborations with Manuel Knapp in particular, so it was a real pleasure to receive a further instalment of their duo work here a little while ago, a disc named VIII on the Nada label. I have never really been able to properly articulate what it is I like about Blechmann and Knapp’s music. On the one hand, their laptop and electronics landscapes are nothing particularly unusual- mainly continuous, drone-like streams of noisy sound that rise and fall but primarily work though the layering of similarly abrasive textures. On the other though, while their music may not sound so inventive when described in words, there is a certain feel and sense of energy and purpose in their work that I don’t hear in many other similar recordings by other musicians. For sure, they have a very particular, and by now familiar language, but what they say with it has a certain gravitas that I think sets it apart.
VIII is one long piece, unsurprisingly the eighth that Blechmann and Knapp have released. Compared to their past works, this one is perhaps less episodic, and more linear than before, but its far from minimal. It starts slowly, but once it has picked up pace the music here really burns its way out of the speakers, roaring away not unlike the sound of an open fire with gusts of wind driving down the chimney. The sounds are all electronic in nature, but there is nothing kitschy or obviously digital at work. Rather the various layers range from white noise hiss to synthetic hums to gravelly distortion, with an undercurrent of several combined long sounds always present at the base, albeit with each element constantly shifting, and then various bits of digital detritus and electroacoustic scribbling scattered on top. Again, it is difficult to pin down in words exactly what make this music work for me, but its something to do with how the various sounds combine, the choices made to connect certain textures with each other, and the tendency to always push things on to one level further- so just when the music seems vitally urgent and vibrant, so another jagged pulse is added in to make things seethe even harder. Cooking analogies spring to mind- a pot of bubbling aromatic Indian food changes colour as every spice is added, every ingredient adds more body, every increase in temperature makes it bubble a little harder. This disc is to me what all good noise music should be like. The sounds used are carefully thought through, the ingredients carefully combined, the intensity added to slowly, the end result as perfectly balanced as it is fiery.
Whether VIII adds anything new to Blechmann and Knapp’s canon I doubt, and its possible that I slightly preferred the more disruptively violent structures of their last release together, but still this is fine music, uplifting in a very simple, elemental manner and a fine example of two musicians perfectly in tune with one another who are working towards a very particular, refined goal. It also sounds damned good in the car.
Releases like this always present something of a quandary. Structurally, at heart, the music isn’t very complex: more or less a sustained surge. It emerges, it grows, its internal elements seethe to the surface, interact and eventually subside. The juicy bits depend largely on the elements chosen and, ore pointedly, what transpires during their interaction, how surprising and/or beautiful a mix results. Here, Blechmann (laptop) and Knapp (electronics) offer up some choice morsels and lend them in a generally engaging, if unspectacular, manner. There’s a nice soft/harsh edge to the sound–like sheets of metal rubbed flatly against one another, a very appealing audio bonbon and things eventually edge into a noisy territory à la, say, classic Voice Crack. It’s an enjoyable ride though one might question its ultimate nutritional value.
A work of laptops and electronics that started in the world of improvised music, more or less that is. Tim Blechmann studied informatics and is ‘predominately’ an improviser with laptop and a composer of computer music, while Knapp studied painting in Vienna and computer music and electronic music at the University of the same city. I assume this forty minute piece is the result of playing together and taping that, rather then the product of endless shaping and editing of recordings. A very linear work here with atmospheric drone at the core and slow building of the final composition. Buzzing static, humming, but with some interesting variety of sounds here. What I like about this is the fact that is doesn’t stay in the perfectly nice drone scapes world, but rather adds a whole bunch of nasty sounds and makes it almost aggressively loud. It’s like they found a bunch of recordings made inside airplanes and added those the music. When it gets loud, say around the twelve minute mark it stays loud almost until the very end, but it end is again delicate. It’s the louder mechanical machine humm that made this for me into a very nice work. It borders to the edges of noise music but has so much more to offer.
On the way home tonight I listened to Blechmann and Manuel Knapp’s Untitled_22, one of the free downloads I mentioned yesterday. I’ve played this one three or four times over the last few days and it continues to grow on me. I wasn’t aware of Knapp before I heard his releases with Blechmann so I have no idea of his history, but his work here compliments that of his colleague very well. The two musicians work with a similar set of electronic sounds, but Knapp adds a little grit to Blechmann’s more gentle hiss and purr. The music contains far more incident than solo Blechmann material, and in places it gets very angry, with sharp little edges poking out of the grey drones here and there and a few sudden shifts upwards in volume allowing the music to dramatically roar in places. Untitled_22 contains a sense of triumphic grandeur in the way it builds every so often into swells of sound that really lifted me tonight as I walked home in the cold. A bit of a cliché but I am reminded of a stormy sea, continually crashing on the rocks, but every so often building into one almighty wave that engulfs everything. Powerful music, recommended for walkers!
ivan palacky - dieb13 - klaus filip - tim blechmann
So my hopefully weekly review of a freely downloadable piece then- tonight a recent(ish) release on Tim Blechmann’s Moka Bar net label, the catalogue of which can be found here. before discussing the music, one thing I like about Moka Bar- similar to Homophoni, Blechmann doesn’t overdo the number of releases available just because the overheads are low. In the four or five years that have passed since the net label began, there have only been six releases. While maybe this could show a degree of apathy towards the venture it more likely shows a healthy restraint, particularly as Blechmann himself appears on a good percentage of the recordings. The music also comes with a pdf file which can be printed off and folded up to make a sleeve for the disc you make from the audio files. This last detail I like a lot, it shows that degree of care and attention I have mentioned before in discussions about downloadable music.
The music I have been listening to tonight then consists to two tracks by the quartet of Blechmann, Klaus Filip, and Dieb13 all from Vienna, where the music was recorded back in 2006, plus Ivan Palacky, visiting from the Czech Republic. For this recording Palacky played his amplified knitting machine, Dieb13 a set of turntables, and Filip and Blechmann a laptop apiece. I like the work of all of these four improvisers, and so was eager to listen to these studio pieces when I downloaded them a few weeks back, but you know the story, too much music, too little time etc, glad to have burnt them to a CD to play out loud on the stereo now however.
There is a half an hour of music here, the first of the two pieces lasting twelve and a half minutes, the second five minutes more. Generally speaking the music is a blend of textural, grainy interference laid over softer tones and warm rumbles. Its really hard to tell who is doing what, though in places Filip’s familiar use of sinetones is clear, and Blechmann’s deep, brooding buzzes are identifiable. On top of these, Palacky and 13 lay smaller, more incidental sounds, gritty amplified contact between metallic objects and rough, edgy little shards of distortion caused by who knows what. Generally speaking the first track is slow and broody, building into little arcs of dense activity before the individual layers are stripped back to let thing settle back down into near silence. The sounds are all very inviting, their mix of gently burning embers and dramatically popping and cracking surface drama is very appealing.
The second track is the real gem here though. Opening with a heavy sinetone and what sounds like a fly with prosthetic wings trapped in a broken jamjar, an immediate sense of urgency is formed, that pulls the music into a spiralling rush of distortion for a few minutes until, from deep underneath a strange wobbly rhythmic patterns appears, slowly fading away, leaving the track to flounder around on odd, vaguely synthesized burblings for a few minutes before embarking on a strange passage of odd whooshing and buzzing sounds over sine tones until, suddenly, twelve minutes in a fast rhythmic session kicks in, presumably coming from Dieb13’s spinning turntables. Normally I would not enjoy this turn of events in music like this, but here, after the rhythms, which seem made up of a tiny snatch of something melodic and other more distorted sounds settles into place, it is soon taken apart again by the other musicians. Other pulsing sounds, at different speeds appear (from Blechmann?) and a great sounding series of clicks and groans, a kind of drunken clockwork (from Palacky?) all builds together to form a sort of wildly chaotic music that all tumbles around in ill-fitting circles before it collapses completely and the music comes to an end.
This second piece is a real joy, really very different to much else I have heard in this area of improvisation, rich in different textures and approaches and not short of a degree of humour and playfulness. I really recommend taking a listen, and for once I feel no guilt in doing this, as it will cost you nothing to go and get the music, and it will only require an investment of time to get the most out of it.
duo with Goh Lee Kwang
The title could be a little misleading, since Blechmann and Kwang are not selling meditative resonance or deep hums; instead, “Drone” is a composition - neither mixed nor mastered by the authors - for prepared mixer and laptop. The slow/speedy/slow complexion of the basic pulse helps the electronic element to introduce a sense of displacement - particularly evident when listening by headphones - enhanced by hardly perceivable frequencies on the extremes of the scale. At about 40 minutes into the piece, we’re left with subsonics juxtaposed with piercing highs tending to the realms of ultrasounds; the music has finally reached its fixed equilibrium, the innocence of the initial exploration of the aural space has given way to a glacial manifestation of human impotence. Sustaining almost one hour through such a course of restrained sonic acts comes as a major plus for these silent analyzers of our head’s chances; declaring “Drone” as an excellent release is the least we can do after being left suspended, waiting for answers we don’t need.
This collaboration of Tim Blechmann and Kwang - ‘Drone’ - is one track, a 58-minute anti-symphony in league with Francisco Lopez’s ‘Untitled #104’. The promise of the opening minutes – the buzz and bleep of Excepter’s best - goes largely unfulfilled, and is instead replaced with the Martian field-recordings of My Cat Is An Alien: wide plains of faint crackle and high-end hum, vague surges of energy; extreme minimalism, as a sort of lethargic reply to To Live and Shave in LA’s over-excitability. The progression of the track over such a large canvas makes it difficult to track, and any narration rendered meaningless - yet a patient ear and a good memory will reward you at various points, such as the 20 minute-mark entrée of midrange tones, and the casual organization of beats into a thickened tempo; within minutes, the a flood of static introduces a fresh palette of sounds which recur with each delicate adjustment. An act of sabotage – though with an uncertain victim – the piece falls silent with 20 minutes remaining, concluding only with a thin pitch, resting just at a point of irritation, perhaps inspiring an awakening in the unfortunate listener without a “jog” feature, but ultimately inducing an early finish by impatience and a scroll bar.
trio with Olaf Hochherz & Mattin
post lac track
My final choice is a release that features Mattin together with Olaf Hochherz and Tim Blechmann. Their piece starts out all silent and hovers just above the threshold of audibility most of the time, before it recedes into silence again towards the end. If you crank up the volume you hear the ambience of a quiet room during the silent parts, sparse and very soft creaks of chairs and some birds singing outside. A few minutes into the piece a static drone with some highly obscure mechanic rumbling underneath sets in, and gradually and barely perceptible develops over the course of the next about 12 minutes. It is extremely minimal, yet gains an almost visual quality, as it evokes the image of a continuously unfolding thin and heavily blurred dark grey line. Just as this drone mixes with the ambience of the room it was recorded in, it gently diffuses into the listener’s surrounding - subliminal and highly effective reductionism.
the music of Tim Blechmann has shown itself to be able to charm me easily