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CD Feature/ N.Strahl.N: "Zeitpapier"

img  Tobias

The medium is the message, Marshall McLuhan claimed, but according to Mario Löhr, things are much worse than that. “Zeitpapier” is already the second volume in a series of minutely detailed 3’’ Mini-CDs dedicated to modern-day mass media and their mental meddling and while first offering “mindscreen” asked listeners to turn off the “systematic brainwashing” spread by TV stations worldwide, his latest release insists that “newspapers spread propaganda” and suggests to “read between the lines”. This double approach of music and meaning is not without merrits considering the importance of the issue – yet it is not without trap doors of its own either.

For starters, it is definitely a positive sign that Löhr has neither allowed the as always exquisite packaging nor the overall concept to act as an excuse for not delivering on the musical aspect. “Zeitpapier” shows him as a musician who follows his intuitions as well as his intellect and who makes up wondrous sounds and shapes as he goes along. The reason why I like to endorse his music not alone to fans of industrial music in general, but to anyone with a certain level of acceptance towards noise is that there are currently few others out there with a similar ability to suggest both form and freedom at the same time. His pieces do not follow templates or rigid schemes, they blaze a trail of their own amidst a well of organically reboiling frequencies.

While “Mindscreen” was a dark, secluded surreal video fantasy, “Zeitpapier” is more open and spaceous, uses more concrete source material (derived from crumpling, folding and tearing up newspaperpages), while simultaneously remaining more abstract in its formulations. Again, four individually composed tracks are woven together into a single, twentyfour minute long unit, creating a continous flow. The reworked paper-sounds are turned into granular gravellings, which act as a bridge between static drones, tribal drum beatings and electrical meditations as the end draws nearer, but the different episodes are seperated from each other and create the sensation of wandering through a parc with bizarre, alien scultpures.

In how far this can be seen as being part of the record’s overall statement, however, is less clear. Instrumental music, like Löhr’s, will always have a hard time extending its political vocabulary beyond what we already know - or profess to know. This is the inbuilt difficulty of using music as the medium, rather than an essay, a movie or a song with lyrics: Sound can not fill in the blanks the liner notes have left open.

Which is no tragedy, as the music more than makes up for it. With each listen, the acoustic portrait gains in strength, in intensity and contours – Löhr has attained a fully convincing, threedimensional degree of competence, consistence and confidence with regards to his skills. And yet, there can be no doubt that this series could profit from somehow going one step further. The medium is the message – Mario Löhr still has a couple of volumes left to prove McLuhan wrong.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: N.Strahl.N
Homepage: N.Strahl.N at MySpace

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