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CD Feature/ Norbert Möslang: "header_change"

img  Tobias

Are images and sounds mutually convertible? Can we listen to videos and look at a composition? Norbert Möslang is convinced it is possible. For years, he has been working on collecting evidence for his convictions, mainly against general opinion. With the publication of “header_change”, he has now come up with a short, but stupifyingly intense album to back up this theory. And yet, it may not make things easier for him.

This is mainly because the album’s method at first seems too trivial on paper and has in turn resulted in a confrontational work in practise. Möslang has changed parts of the parameters of video stills by long-standing Swiss media artist Silvie Defraoui, transforming them into music by manipulations of the source code. The danger of this kind of approach lies not so much in its simplicity, but rather in the problematic suggestion that if the basic elements of two different art forms are identical, their digital sequences will retain the same meaning after the translation process. Or, to put it differently: Ones and Zeros only start making sense within a specific context.

After thirty years as a member of the widely praised formation “voice crack:” and an already burgeoning solo career, however, one can safely assume that Möslang is not naive enough to believe things are this easy. He has decided to carry through the procedure rigurously and with only minimal post-productional efforts on his side. He has accepted that what he has ended up with is a harsh, brute and sometimes aggrssive brick wall of drilling frequencies, an attack of edgey drones drenched in distortion only occasionaly pierced by flanger-effects or scraping noises, a world with a monochromatic palette except maybe for the sharp, yet open structures of “2”. And he has done all of this without including direct references to the images used, depriving his audience of the chance to make comparisons and analysing the relationship between the two media. As it turns out, though, there is a good reason for his actions.

This reason mainly has to do with a different perception of sound and images. To Möslang, the act of hearing is not necessarily fluent and linear, while a still image does not need to be static. Music can capture a single mood or a state just as much as it can try to develop themes and motives in a classical sense. It approaches visual qualities the more it increases its inner complexity and reduces its outward movement. Images, in turn, often reveal their deeper meaning through the path of the searching eye on the canvas and through the influence of time on the spectator. While they may be stills in principle, they can not be detached from the act of observation, which makes them come alive. The more the image relies on the active and subjective input of the viewer, the more dynamic it gets and the more it withdraws into the inner eye of the listener – the same spot music tends to when aspiring to the optical spectrum. And with absolute certainty, there is a place where the two can intersect.

Norbert Möslang has done everything in his power to get there. He has carefully gone for Defraoui as an artist deeply interested in memory as the domain of the arts. And he has opted for drastic sounds to emphasise the physicality of his tracks, to put them in touch with the entire body of the listener, with his eyes and with his ears. Indeed, some passages sound as though beams of light were gulfing through them, rippling the surface of the air arouind us, creating chains of associations which are hard to place but almost tangible nevertheless. It may all be an illusion. But if it is, then it is an intruiging one, giving hope to the thought that sounds and images may well be mutually convertible one day.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Norbert Möslang
Homepage: cut records

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