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CD Feature/ Donkey: "Stone"

img  Tobias

Even contemporary artists often establish a clear border between sound art - which is essentially made up of noise and (occasionally) harmonic semblances - on the one hand and conventional music on the other - a territory marked by harmonic progressions, themes, motives, their development and scoreable compositions. “Stone” proves that Donkey, made up of respected solo artists Hans Fjellestad and Damon Holzborn, either do not recognise the vailidity of this division – or have decided to ignore its consequences, meeting at the border post for eccentric improvisations in a league of their own.

Even if you’re listening to experimental releases on a daily basis, this CD does not make for easy consumption. The document of a live session in New York last Winter, it is both a test of the performers’ telepathic abilities, as well as a statement of their conscious or unconscious proximity to other artistic genres they dabble in – film with regards to Fjellestad and dance for Holzborn.

The associations are never all that obvious despite the high metaphorical value of the sounds and even though one could right away imagine this as a great soundtrack for contemporary ballet. Instead, another discipline is much closer: Field recordings. Instead of capturing a street scene, a rural paradise, people talking, dogs barking or bees buzzing, however, it points the microphone at the future. On many occasions, the record creates the illusion of a imaginary musique concrete, of a UFO caught on tape, of flying saucers hovering up above and strange little creatures trying to immitate the Babel thing with their galactic voices.

The world usually labelled “music” only rears its head for a couple of seconds, when Fjellestad sends deep Moog waves into the canyon of bleeps and cuts or when an unidentifiable tune is fed through at least a thousand effect pedals. And yet, it is never completely absent. Donkey use the most wayward aural objects, but they use them in quite traditional ways. Their cosmos is full of melodies, positive and optimistic ones even, if you listen carefully. Fjellestad and Holzborn are playing their samplers, sequencers, stomp boxes, minidisc recorders and tape machines like regular instrumentalists would their violin, piano or accordeon, creating meticulous avantgarde sound battles in the process.

You do not drive your car to this music, You do not sing or swing to this music. You do not wash the dishes to it, nor do we advise to play it while giving water to your flowers. If there is any functional application we could think of related to it at all, then it might be flossing your teeth until your gums bleed. Other than that, you sit down, fold your hands and listen. Attentively. Actively. Ambitiously.

In the meditative mind, the two world of “sound” and “music” converge, leaving just an open space where the border used to be. It’s a great moment, full of expectations and adrenalin. Don’t let it pass you by.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Hans Fjellestad
Homepage: Damon Holzborn
Homepage: Accretions Records

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