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CD Feature/ Schurer > Steinbrüchel: "Falte"

img  Tobias

The term “Sound Art” alone is enough to scare many people from taking a chance on the genre: Doesn’t „art, after all, mean museums and elitism? Doesn’t it imply intellectual hardships instead of emotional arousal? For “Falte”, Steinbrüchel and Bernd Schurer have purposely chosen to defy these clicheed expectations and built an entire album on a concept from childhood days.

It is therefore technically correct, but conceptually not entirely fitting to trace their efforts back to the Surrealist “Excuisite Corpse”-technique: In a collaborational project, each artist is shown the end of his immediate colleague’s contribution, using it as a starting point for his own work. As the liner notes correctly point out, the far older traditional game of beginning a story, then folding the paper and passing it on to one’s neighbour uses a similar concept – and it is this concept which Steinbrüchel and Schurer used for their album (“Falte” is the German term for “Fold”).

A game like this one is not only a lot of fun, but often leads to passages of suprising, completely unexpected insight from outwardly random combinations of words. “Falte” now attains the same results in the field of sounds. Even though the exact procedure remains a secret (the press release merely mentions a “condensed, slightly more composed and therefore differentiated form of folding”), one can threedimensionally see its results: Certain passages return in unexpected places, endless fields of undulation are penetrated by sudden erruptions and transitions are often abrupt and always unforeseable.

The “Fun” factor may be slightly less obvious on a work which revolves around deep drones, warm bell- and chime patterns, microsounds and the sort of disturbing noises your DVD player produces when unable to play a disc. On the other hand, the underlying method has infused both of the artist’s refined techniques with impulses they would probably not have come up with on their own and divided an almost one hour long piece into compact units of recognisable tracks, which make sense both within the general flow and on on their own. 

Which means you can listen to “Falte” during your early morning cup of coffee, on your way to work, in between breaks, while reading a book and before falling asleep in the evening. The click and cut factor is high in the opening twenty minutes, making it hard to immerse oneself fully at first. But in the sleepy breath of the hanging gardens of the fourth track the album extends its soft hooks and draws its audience in. Somehow, that piece keeps orbiting the same nerve, uncovering layer upon layer of hypnosis and leading into an ocean of variations and new forms.

After that, there is no stopping. “Falte” is a sensually engulfing experience, but strangely enough, its pussyfooting structures speed time up rather than slowing it down. It is almost like a stimulating conversation with goods friends, an act of connecting that doesn’t always have to “mean” something. And maybe there is no contradiction in the end: Shouldn’t art be playful anyway?

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Bernd Schurer
Homepage: Steinbrüchel
Homepage: Non Visual Objects Records

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