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3'' to the power of 4

img  Tobias

Have we told you already how much we love the 3’’ format? While some people are still unaware of the wonderful new world of the inner rim of their CD player, quite a few of the last mini-CD releases have stolen our hearts with concentrated music and stunningly beautiful packaging. Let’s have a look at four of them, which come highly recommended.

First up is “Die Kosmische Zygote”, a disc from the ever-growing catalogue of taalem, a French label which has made it its mission to promote the 3’’ format. Which comes as no surprise when considering that founding figure Jean Marc Boucher has a background in the burgeoning tape scene from the early days of industrial and experimental music, which flowered on the furtile grounds of individuality. And individual have been almost all of the short, surprising and stimulating aural excursions on taalem, which by now has featured a remarkable cast of prominent acts from around the world. “Die Kosmische Zygote” is one of their latest offerings and comes courtesy by Mirko Uhlig of the now dormant Aalfang mit Pferdekopf (watch out for his first solo album next month) and Sascha Stadlmeier, better known as Emerge. In a single track, which spans 23 minutes, the duo focusses on the magnetic effect of metal noises, steelstrings being wound and unwound as well as deep rumbling and bizarre clattering merging with a delicately blown harmonica and soothing kalimba playing. While this makes for a nice and somehow comfortable background massage, it develops an almost hypnotic pull when listened to in the right state of mind – when you’ve just awoken from your siesta in the heat of summer, or, vice versa, shortly before falling asleep. Magnificently unacademic.


While taalem discs have a distinct Corporate Design (no booklet, a cheap white sticker and mysteriously abstract labels on the CDs), Bremen-based record company “Die Stadt” is known for its personal packaging. Organum’s “Die Hennen Zähne” relies on nothing but typography, but the Mondrian-esque simplicity of the wonderful digipack works brilliantly. Originally planned as a separat set of two super-short EPs, this collection of previously unconnected pieces has just the right length to keep your senses in a state of continous frenzy. There’s passages of brutal loudness, with glass being broken and scrap metal being tossed through the air and only a few minutes after, you find yourself in the middle of a darkly shimmering mediatation leading you towards an inner light. David Jackman (the civil man behind Organum) has always claimed that he “loves the drone”, but on these four short to medium-lenght tracks, he proves to know his way with noise as well. While the center compositions, including the earshattering title track, rely on the power of trance, opening lament “Die Kralle” is a minuscule melodic masterpiece and the closing “Kazi” of ethereal beauty. Miraculously magical madness.

Meanwhile, two new releases of the field muzick label take listeners to faraway dream places. Giesela’s “rot” (that’s “red” in english) is the first release in what will probably amount to an entire series of 3’’ discs. On the cover, cows peacefully graze, the pieces bear the titles of rare plants and the press release informs us that we can expect family portraits and lullabies. Well, it’s hard to tell whose family exactly gets depicted here, but you can certainly doze off into another world while listening to these four dense soundscapes. There’s a sense of eerie uncertainty lingering in all of them, a slow motion feeling, like you’re followed by something or someone, but you can’t really put your finger on it. While field recordings usually play an important part in the label’s philophy, here they are used in a subtle and drawn-back manner, providing for texture and space. Which means that you can really allow yourself to fall into the music and let go of everything around you. A more than welcome and promising work.

Marcus Obst, the label’s founder, joins in the fun by releasing the first album under his own name (after several, often sold-out efforts as Dronaement). “Trafic Tonalite” was inspired by a trip to the IRCAM in Paris, which saw Marcus’ equipment melt away and him travelling home without the wished-for results. On this twenty-minute long composition, he sets out to explore, when traffic noise ends being a pain in the ear and starts being agreeable (or the other way round). Well, as long as the street noises are integrated into a hazily floating surrounding like this one, they can stay. “Trafic Tonalite” drifts off on the wings of a happily babbling sequencer line and warm harmonies, with some hardly traceable effects and a steady rhythm providing diversion. Nothing really happens, but suddenly this track reaches a point of total immersion, when you don’t want to let go and keep on driving along for ever. Like a sky-coloured Sunday-morning version of Kraftwerk’s "Autobahn". Absolutely magnificent – and unfortunately limited to 50 copies only.

Although financial affairs and beauty hardly ever go together well, in this case we will make an exception for the sake of adding some good news: With prices ranging between 4.50 Euros (Aalfang mit Pferdekopf/Emerge) and 10 Euros (Organum), even those with slim purses should be able to indulge in this pleasure. And discover the magic of the inner rim.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: taalem Records
Homepage: Aalfang mit Pferdekopf
Homepage: Emerge
Homepage: Die Stadt Records
Homepage: Organum
Homepage: Field Muzick
Homepage: Dronaement / Marcus Obst

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