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Fabio Orsi: Postcards From Bochum

img  Hellmut Neidhardt

Knowing about Fabio Orsi's talents as a photographer, I frankly wouldn't have been surprised if Postcards from Bochum had indeed been a set of … well, postcards. As it turns out, however, the title to this ultra-limited release on Midira Records is intended far more figuratively, presenting seven 'audiocards' instead – scenes from Bochum's city life, episodically arranged and based on the results of a field-recording workshop hosted by Orsi and curated by webzine All pieces contained here were created by the workshop participants - Frans Bruhn, Jari Heeschen, Alex Klett, Angsttrieb, Theriak und Sven Dortmund - with Orsi acting not just as an artist, but a creative advisor as well.

On a first impression, the focus of these audiocards seems to be firmly on presenting pure impressions from the field, on avoiding distorting post-processings, with most tracks consciously or unconsciously dealing with ambient recordings and avoiding overly concrete emanations and the intrusion of human life - the only exception to this rule being Alex Klett's "Pottgeflüster" and Angsttrieb's "People Of Bochum – The Music Of Your Streets". And yet, the biggest surprise is the last audiocard here, Sven Dortmund's "th21": Both in the first three minutes and the finale, cut-ups and fast-forward-passages offer short glimpses at the material, while a long, sustained passage in the middle functions as an acme.

The more one listens to the Postcards from Bochum, the harder its gets to decide if all of this is really unprocessed or whether some collaging, transitioning or superimpositioning did take place after all. Of course, in the end, little of this matters, as scientific documentation was never the point here. Rather, the goal of the record was to vividly capture the city's ambiance and it it has succeeded in admirably in this regard. The reasons for this success aren't just the immersive environmental sounds contained within the individual postcards, nor the epic church organ in Orsi's own "Bochum Is Not A 6 Letters Word". Rather, it is the formidable sound of these tracks, creating a dynamic sound space and deep listening environment at home – a glimpse at Bochum from afar.

Another reason are the engaging cover pictures taken by Orsi. Audiocards these may be – but sometimes, you can almost see them nonetheless.

By Hellmut Neidhardt
Translation by Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Fabio Orsi
Homepage: Midira Records