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CD Feature/ Mirko Uhlig: "Storm: outside calm tamed"

img  Tobias

One album, one track, thirtythree minutes, twenty-nine of which consist almost exclusively of crunching waves of distortion, eartorturing frequencies and a simple melody repeated over and over again. “VIVMMI” was Mirko Uhlig’s statement of silence, an album which walked barefoot and blindfolded through evanescent scenes inside a house made of porcelain, feeling its way forwards with hands inside glace-kid-gloves. It was as intricate as a bonsai tree, pure and yet richly textured, full of variation within a hermetically sealed world. So is “Storm” a reaction of defiance after the critical acclaim and success of its predecessor?

It isn’t, but you’ll have to listen and read carefully. Already in the press release, Uhlig says that the new work is to be seen as a transitory one and will appeal to fans of William Basinski and Merzbow – which could be a joke, but it isn’t. Of course, he is not the first one to discover the beauty of noise in its direct form and to recognise that this beauty is not hidden “beneath” its surface as some have somewhat complacently put it. Fact is, noise has no surface, it is infinite and without borders, which is why it is omnipotent in the truest sense of that word (and why it can be so easily abused by kids trying to look mean). But he may be the first to touch upon its frailty. On the outside, this is pure industrial and it would be wrong to even try and relate it to counterpointal techniques, philophical programs or dadaistic ideologies. Of course, this thick cloud swells and ebbs, changes pitch and pulse, tonal colour and distortion. But in its heart, it remains a wild beast or a force of nature, just like you can describe a tornado with equations and physics, but you can not tame it, explain it or laugh in its face. It is the very fact that “Storm” does not conjur up any smart or ironic excuses for its rawness which makes it seem so inpenetrably powerful and attractive. You can not write about this music, without failing to make a point, just like you can not listen to an excerpt of it on MySpace, thinking that you know what to expect. You need to sit this through from the beginning to the end to be able to understand and you need to put all other thoughts and activities aside – in the background, this is as effective as watching a horror movie with the volume muted. Instead, turn up the dial one noth higher and drown your intellect completely. Then, you will be able to feel the tenderness hidden in that one delicate motive, which Uhlig exhibits like a war veteran showing his wounds because they’re the only thing he has got left, besides some memories of better times. And you’ll be able to experience feelings seldomly related to noise: Compassion and the notion of being touched.

What could go on forever falls back into a shreeking clangour all of a sudden and then dissolves into a piano theme, which runs through different resonances, echoing into silence at the end – and this time, the silence is both out- and inside of you. It is here that things fall into place, that the comparisons start to make sense and that you realize that this is a case of using the tools of Merzbow and the time-loop technique of Basinski to get to a place which is very much its own. It is not that far from “VIVMMI” to “Storm”, really.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Mirko Uhlig
Homepage: Aal Records / Ex Ovo Distribution

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