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CD Feature/ Frank Rowenta: "Klänge Siziliens"

img  Tobias

It is true: Releasing 3'' CDs is going to cost you money, not earn you any. On the other hand, just like in real life, beauty has its price. And when a genre like „Field Recordings“, which already by its very nature implies low sales and a high degree of idealism, meets this philosphy, then commercial considerations bear no relevance anyway. And thus „Klänge Siziliens“ wants to be judged by its intrinsic and purely artistic value alone – without regard to its universal appeal or hit-potential.

Not that we expected anything else from the label run by Marcus Obst, who in his dayjob works as a graphic designer and to whom the outward appearance of things is not only equally important as their content, but not seperated from it at all. Again, as with the two Mini abums preceeding this one, the disc itself is perfectly black on the one and snowwhite on the other side and the tiny booklet comes on heavy, glossy foto paper – both an aesthetic and haptic pleasure. Frank Rowenta, too, can hardly be described as a musician looking for a popstar status and easy fame. A tape artist in the 80s, he was always too much of his own boss to fit into any drawer, genre or niche and despite some noteworthy archival recordings over the last years he has remained distant from any scene. There is a slight chance that this will change, as Rowenta has returned with a double attack of new works, the wondrous „Klänge Siziliens“ („Sounds of Sicily), a barely twenty minute long aural travel log of his last holiday in Italy as well as the impudently lo-fi „Raumstudien #1“ on Gruenrekorder (which is even more wondrous and wonderful, but more about that in a bit). For the release at hand, Rowenta decided to point his microphone towards any old sound source he could find and to mix the tapes together in his home studio: People talking, the noises from the street, cars, screetching hollers, rumblings and rollings. On top of that, he added dissonant and pandemoneously swelling drones, weird sizzlings and bizarre little effects as well as sweet guitar playing and even some cello abstractions and high-pitched pizzicatos. The result has nothing in common with the typical travel guide soundtracks and defies any stereotypes you might hold about mediterranean culture and its people – after all, this is Sicily and for each orange vendor standing in the shade of a tree, as the cliche has it, there is at least one drug dealer standing behind it. Rowenta knows how to create moods that leave you emotionally unstable and yet unable to take your eyes and ears away from the action, while the carefully arranged cycle of six tracks, which go from aggressive to dangerously sedated and back again, pulls you in like a maelstroem.

Like on previous „Field Muzick“ offerings, the field recordings are not the main focal point, they are merely the core around which the pulp slowly continues to grow. But their presence and the human element which comes with it puts them into a conflict with the music, which remains consciously alien and emotionally divergent. It is this constant tension which makes „Klänge Siziliens“ an equally disturbing and hypnotic listen – and one, which could well appeal to more than just the 50 copies pressed by the label.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Frank Rowenta at MySpace
Homepage: Frank Rowenta
Homepage: Field Muzick Recordings

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