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CD Feature/ Brandstifter: "Asphaltbibliotheque"

img  Tobias

Fred: Yes, folks, this one is one for the ages! Dada says ‘hello’ and, of course, good old Johnny Cage has his duties lined out to serve as explanation for this work. For without Johnny, you would just have a very difficult time to come to terms with this. Field recordings are the big headline, field recordings you’ll hear every single day when you go to work, in case you have a job, or go shopping or do anything else outside the confines of your home.

Tobias: And hello to you, Fred! I agree that there's some namedropping in the booklet included with the CD. But since when is making your influences public a crime? Isn't there, in fact, a lot to be said for it?

Fred: Okay, let me rephrase that! Imagine this, Brandstifter: You would give this CD to a person who had never heard a word about art. Or music. Or anything about Dadaism or John Cage. Or yourself, as a matter of fact. What do you think a person like that would say upon hearing your work?  I’ll leave the answer to this question open, wide open. But you obviously will sense what I am about to say.

Tobias: Not yet...

Fred: Instead of ranting on, I will, for clarity's sake, quote from Martin Büsser, an author who obviously enjoys this kind of art and who delivered an explanation for what this CD is all about. Get this: ‘In the same way in which retrieved slips of paper from the sidewalks were never supposed to be art, the sounds on this CD do not go beyond anything that has not been collected.’Well! Isn’t the whole purpose clear right now? I guess so.

Tobias: But aren't the basic sounds and the composition two completely different things? And,  since we've started on the “philosophical” part of the debate: One needs to take the composer as a further element of influence into consideration as well. The source material is shaped by the composer to form a composition, but what happens, as the composer gradually reduces his influence? That, to me, is the essence of Büsser's essay and quite an interesting subject to boot...

Fred: I'm not quite as intruiged as you are, but I'll go so far as to agree that you could approach this work from another angle. You could claim, that these sounds serve as a remarkable act in branding the usual procedures of every days life into your consciousness, thus creating a form of art which stands out simply because it has never been done before…
Never been done before??? Please. This is just a simple rehash of things that have been done already in the last millennium. And as it is in art, music and other endeavours, you have to be the FIRST coming up with ideas like this to really produce art. This is true for all genres of art, even in pop music and rock’n roll, and sure as hell in painting, jazz music, sculpting and, oh yes, and yes again, in experimental music. Or whatever you think art is.

There are many cover groups, who try to imitate their idols. Sometimes with astonishing quality. But in this case, there is not even a noteworthy technical aspect. In this case, you push a button, later cut the tapes and mix together what has already been mixed together by the accidental happenings of daily life.Then, you add the wisdom of some acrobat with words, who paints the wisdom of an intellectual aura around the whole thing, and there you go.

Tobias: You're right to a certain degree. The introduction certainly has a weak spot. By simultaneously claiming that the question of whether or not this is music is irrelevant and then celebrating the disc as a great piece of art, it both tries to stand outside of the typical terminology, while using it to its own advantage. But on the other hand, I would find it unfair to apply a different standard to “Asphaltbibliotheque” than to any other kind of musical expression. Art is a form of human expression and can not be repressed. To get back to your initial question of how one would listen to this CD without any kind of musical education: Probably with a look of estrangement – and an urge to find out what this was all about.

Fred: Just let me put it plain and simple: I myself love to do what Brandstifter did right here. It is just a lot of fun to put together a CD like this. It is some act of creating something, regardless of what it is. As I said, I like to do it myself. But it sure isn’t anything of art or value. It’s just fun. And if this was the objective to fabricate this work, great! But I’m afraid, it was not. So here is my recommendation: If you want to indulge in the sounds of our industrial and busy life just go out, walk the roads, go into café’s and pubs, train stations and sit down at bus stops. Have a picnic at a busy highway. And when you come home, listen to a piece of music, that you like. But not to this CD.

Tobias: You are aware of the fact that “Brandstifter” means “arsonist” in German and that they have succeeded in that aim admirably, despite your claim that “Asphaltbibliotheque” offers nothing new?

Fred: I guess you are right on that one...


By Fred M. Wheeler and Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Gruenrekorder Records

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