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CD Feature/ V.A.: "Signal to Noise Vol. 5"

img  Tobias
“Signal to Noise Vol. 4” and “Vol. 5” were recorded within arms’ length of each other, but musically, there are world seperating the two. Gone are Weber, Korber and Yamauchi, in comes Akafumi Nakajima (aka Aube) and suddenly, there is a completely new dynamic to the performance and an entirely different sound to the group.

All four pieces on the album are filled to the brim with polydirectional interactions and constant simultaneous emissions. It is much less a music of breath and much more a state of constant tension, mutating and morphing in on-a-dime transformations. The production is highly plastic, comparing rather to several layers of brightly coloured paint thrown over each other than the miraculous, fragile white canvas of the YCAM jams.

After the stormy opening track, which howls and puffs like a gail wind trying to release itself from the studio, track two builds a lovely kind of groove from snippeted samples, crusty crackles, deep reverberations and percussive tapping, growing in warmth as chiming drones catch the music mid-air, leaving it to float gentle downwards for the rest of the ride. In the 18-minute finale, the quartet begins quietly, but moves towards Industrial-like shredded beats, distortion clusters and all kinds of associational elements thrown in between, with what could be a coocoo’s clock battling bravely against waves of harmonics and stuttering digital timpani.

The pieces sound as though they could have been recorded one after the other with hardly a second of rest in between. There is an incredible spontaneity in these performances, forcing the artists to rely on often identical timbral material and related musical ideas between different takes. As a consequence, Günter Müller’s iPod turns into a full-fledged instrument and Jason Kahn’s Synth sometimes sounds like a sample, moulded like wet clay in the hands of a sonic sculptor.

“Signal to Noise Vol. 5” is especially interesting, because it depicts noise as a genre which bleeds forth organically from sound art, instead of just representing a series of tricks with the distortion pedal. These tracks will often move around in a space of careful oscillations, until reaching a decisive point and turning into monstrously loud exorcisms. Even after several spins, it remains inspiring to watch the actors circle that point, before crossing the border and releasing themselves in an acoustic orgy without restraints.

But the greatest treat of the fifth episode must surely be its mutability in the face of the listener’s (!) approach. With Kahn, Möslang, Müller and Nakajima firing continously, the music offers various lines of development. In a hynagogic state, one can follow each line individually, observe its in-the-moment reaction to external stimuli from all sides and its loose associations and allegiances, which crumble as quickly as they have been formed. In full concentration, the action takes place in the center channel, with the left- and right-panned sounds locking in to power the piece on. In an ecstatic mood, finally, musical attributes decay, leaving nothing but raw energy, shifting freely within a vivid tonal continuum.

Are there still lost pieces sleeping in Günter Müller’s basement? One would certainly hope so. I may be among the few who actually like the artwork to the series (especially because it refers to its factors of influence in a non-obvious way), but certainly part of a crowd of enthusiastic listeners who have come to see the “Signal to Noise” series as catching a particular time and various, interrelated biographies like few others before it.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: For4Ears Records
Homepage: Günter Müller
Homepage: Jason Kahn
Homepage: Norbert Möslang
Homepage: Aube

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