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CD Feature/ Erratic: "The Invisible Landscape"

img  Tobias

Fleeing boredom and the tiny terrors of human existence is one important aspect of art. If a Finnish Hard Rock band can win the Eurovision Song Festival dressed up as ghouls and ghosts, then a large part of this success can be attributed to the fact that it simply seems much more fun building an entirely new and colourful world for yourself and others to live in (see also: myspace). Celebrating and elevating the little pleasures and the magic of every-day life is art’s second domain. On this disc by Belgian “sound gardener” Jan Robbe, both ideals come together in a seemless blend.

For Robbe, who has released music under a bunch of different pseudonyms and also runs the brilliant “entity” netlabel with a focus on nightly, atmospheric electronica, the collaboration with his compatriot Daniel Crokaert’s “Mystery Sea” outfit is therefore both a natural, as well as a daring one: While Daniel’s dark, dreamy and sometimes desolate drone depictations deliberately and decidedly drift into delicately otherworldly dimensions, Robbe’s vision is much more direct. In stark contrast to what its title might suggest, the “invisible landscape” is not some mystic place outside of our perception. Neither is it just a product of the mind. In fact, when listening with open ears, it will reveal itself to be more “real” than some of the things you read about in the papers. All of the seven pieces on the album, including the five-part title suite, work along the same pattern: Monochromatic spheres lurk in the background, whispering in unintelligible voices and gaping into the void. On top, there is a single layer of sound: Scraping, snapping, cracking, fistling, rustling, fizzing, fristling and hissing noises, with a field recording-feeling to them. These subtle sonorities are seldonly disturbed, unless for a good reason, such as in the intriguing finale of “Mysterium Tremendum”, where one has the impression, as if giant metallic bowls were being rubbed against each other. Listening to “the invisible landscape” is like looking through several transparencies, stretched over a nocturnal ocean – you have a sensation of total openness, yet it remains impossible to penetrate the final frontier. In some moments, this creates an eery and subcutaneously tinkling sensation, but for most of the time, the music is of an almost peaceful nature and seems to document unspectacular, yet somehow significant scenes: The milkman replacing an old bottle with a fresh one in some lazily awakening peasant village, wooden logs passing you by on the banks of a mist-covered stream, an old lady preparing tea in a heavy kettle over the fire, flies and bees buzzing round your head, as you lie in the grass and watch the clouds. These are archetypical and archaic pictures and they feel wonderfully familar.

There is no conflict between escapism and every-day life here, simply because, as Robbe demonstrates, there is no contradiction. By running from mediocrity, “real” life can become much brighter and by enjoying the tiny details surrounding your every move, this earth unfolds into a perfect place. It is an image of the world as seen through the eyes of a blind man, wonderous and with an insatiable curiosity, and it serves to proove that the good things are just around the corner: Making the invisible become visible lies within the powers of your hands.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Erratic / Jan Robbe / Entity
Homepage: Mystery Sea Records

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