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CD Feature/ the [law-rah] collective: "Isolation"

img  Tobias

The [law-rah] collective are one of the true purveyors of eclecticism and multimdedia. In the course of their existence, they have composed sound tracks to documentaries and short movies,  engaged in radio plays and remixes and have used the Dutch Flood catastrophe as well as Andy Warhol’s paintings as inspiration for densely layered albums. They have appeared both on the -oo dB Sampler for quiet moments in sound and the Maschinenfest, an industrial celebration of heavy noise. So the one thing missing in their CV was the production of a modern ballet performance. Enter “Isolation”.

On the face of it, this must be the most ambitious project of Bauke van der Wal’s alter ego. After all, despite his credentials, a fundamental and grave question remained to be answered: Can you dance to drones? While ballet is ignited by movement, the long-drawn tones of the modern shamans deliberately retreat into cessation. As “Isolation” shows, this is merely a problem on paper. For one, van der Wal has never been a child of one world only. Dark textures, spoken word collages, ambient, experimental sounds on the one hand and rhythm on the other have never been contradictions in his oeuvre, but rather different aspects of the same thing. And secondly, his fragile, then again determined harmonic pulses open up wide spaces, which in turn can be used by the dancers for their own contributions. Instead of working against each other, music and body movement are symbiotic forces, changing their individual perception and forming a new entity. Excerpts from the performance can be found on the accompanying video track, a movie shot in sinister black and blue shades, with Bauke towering faintly behind a glowing rack of synths and samplers and the two dancers of the juxtapose ensemble marking time, jumping, pacing the room, rolling all over the floor and then again sitting very still. The composition becomes a part of their exterior and interior world, a surrounding as well as a depictation of the emotional states they go through. Intense and occasionaly uneasy stuff, which culminates in a suspenseful, yet almost static finale. Against the odds, the music works on its own as well. Seperated into four movements, the single, fourtyfour minute long track moves from a majestically hovering intro laden with coded vocal samples to an abstract middle part leaning on artificial respiration and thence to a slowly building climax. Mostly, van der Wal acts as a true sound sculptor, slowly revealing the hidden qualities of his material. In the closing ten minutes, the sounds move from muffled to bright, from deep regiosn to higher pitches, from quiet to loud and from undefined to destinct. There is nothing enigmatic about it, but it certainly creates some haunting moments.

In contrast to some of their other works, the [law-rah] collective keep a certain distance to the listener on “Isolation” – this is not the kind of music you can let yourself fall into, but rather a confrontational surrounding, which makes you become more aware of yourself and sensible to even the most subtle external influences. It certainly closes the missing gap in their discography in style and opens up entirely new possibilities for the club scene – drone disco anyone?

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: the [law-rah] collective

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