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CD Feature/ V.A.: leerraum serie03.mp3

img  Tobias

As has been pointed out in previous reviews of releases by the “leerraum” label, its name means “empty room”. With regards to its strictly limited editions, this term can be understood not only in relation to its aesthetics, but to its logistics as well – they like to keep their shelves clean.

Quite a lot of the widely praised and appreciated works have therefore long sold out, turning them either into obscure classics, sought-after collector items or both. For the second time in their history, the leerraum team has therefore decided to have mercy on those who came too late.

“Serie03.mp3” (the unusually calculated follow-up to “Serie01”) offers nine leerraum originals by a wide roster of artists, some of whom are regular guests on these pages. Kenneth Kirschner’s study on silence “november 18, 2004 et al.” has even be discussed on tokafi before and it is a true gift that its magical play with single, sustained tones and the silence between them is available again.

Due to the limitations of the format of a CD-R, the albums have all been compressed, but the high bit rate used in the process renders the aural difference between these mp3s and the original insignificant. Bunching the works together on one disc once again emphasises the openness of the label’s philosophy. “Sanban” by longmo (mastered by Steinbrüchel, by the way) is a 36-minute long drone piece with strong emotional resonances amidst surgically precise microtonal incisions, while Yuzo Kako’s “T/t” clusters the digitally cut snippets into brute rhythms and asthmatic atmospheres.

Label co-founder Zimoun presents monolithic boulder-beats, built from gruffy tonal sediments in a grey, intense and monotimbral sound canyon, while Jason Kahn rubs several layers of abstract and concrete metallic noises against each other, exploring the synthesis of their different pulsation rates. Both of them are demanding, uneasy compositions with a zen-like centeredness.

What binds the different approaches together is not just their concise length (almost all of the albums contained on “Serie03.mp3” are somewhere around the fourty-minute mark) as well as their strictly reduced palette (with many artists seemingly drawing from the same pool of source material), but the visual aspect as well: Marc Beekhuis’ ants are crawling on all of the cover designs, somewhere in a terra incognita between the organic and the mechanically refined.

Although meticulous attention to detail is a common denominator and the purity of the sonic and graphic concept suggests a certain degree of “seriousness”, these works are never academic in the sense of developing the material from a theoretical basis. Asher’s “Directions” and especially the three solo- and collaborative contributions by Mahmoud Refat are deeply sensous pieces underneath a cloaking veil of granular manipulations. Maybe this must be considered a logical deduction from the basic parameters: In an empty room, all senses become doubly receptive.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Leeraum Records

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