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CD Feature/ jgrzinich: "Rudiment of Two"

img  Tobias

John Grzinich wants you to listen. That may not seem like big news – don’t all artists, after all? There is a subtle difference between Grzinich’s request and the feverish urge to grab some attention, however. “The observing mind hears the rudiment of two”, he oracles on the back cover, before diving into an even more enigmatic booklet text, which talks about the composer living outside of the “mnemonic myth”, “shifting strata of sound” and a “temporal play between essence and fruition”. But just like these words need to be read with the heart instead of the intellect, his music can not be understood by merely opening your ears.


Location is an important element to this album, as it has always been to Grzinich’s music: Again, the source material was captured at different spots in Estonia (his current base), Lisbon, Tokyo, as well as in Topolo, near the Italo-Slovenian border and the Portuguese town of Nodar. Especially the quietude of his rural Estonian home has provided him with the chance of capturing “unpoluted” sounds and of reworking them in the absence of disturbing urban influences. All of this matters, because these field recordings are not just a sidenote to his work, but the very body and essence of it. His pieces are made up of myriads of sound sources, pristine and pure in their original form, which are placed next to each other in fluctuating constellations in a musical game of going to Jerusalem. More than most of his colleagues, Grzinich does not polish his recordings to the point of clean abstraction, but deliberately uses their inbuilt associational oscillations: Each sound creates an image, stirrs a memory, triggers a reflex, releases energy in some way or the other and thereby stimulates the entire perceptive system. Listening is no longer just something one does with one’s ears (if it ever was), but a process associated with manifold organs and brain regions.


“Rudiment of two” is a direct reference to this train of thought (the numeral component relating to the beforementioned bipolarity) and a practical stab at making the idea as transparent as possible. Grzinich creates contexts, rather than compositions, he builds spaces for his sounds to unfold in, leaving the interpretation to his audience. There is an unsettling sense of duality in everything, especially in the gargantuan “bounds and magnitudes”, the thirty minute long state occupying the centre of the album, its entire middle section igniting sweet waves of synaptic impulses with pictures of nocturnal railway turnpikes, frame drums playing themselves and metallic objects being shaken inside aluminum cannisters. In that sense, it is no flattery when Grzinich states that even though his music is undoubtedly a non-linguistic form of comunication, the exact subject of this communication still remains unknown to him.


There are two good things about this approach. Firstly, the advent of home studio technology in the visual sector has made it easy to create your own videoclips and it has offered artists a chance to add, in a second medium, what they were unable to achieve in purely musical terms. John Grzinich’s efforts, meanwhile, emphasize that despite obvious cross-pollination advantages, sound art should be able to make sense on its own. And secondly, if you do away with all of the theory and instead merely listen, immersing yourself fully in the music, you are doing the right thing.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: John Grzinich
Homepage: Twenty Hertz Records/Edition Sonoro

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