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Freiband: Stainless Steel / Stainless Steel Redux & Finale

img  Tobias Fischer

It isn't without irony that some commentators have compared sections of this album to the aesthetics of innovators like Carsten Nicolai or Wolfgang Voigt. After all, rather than constituting an imitator, Frans de Waard, who released his debut as Freiband as early as 2001, was always part of the very same wave as well. Today, the initial impulse of that scene has been mostly lost to complacency, but this hasn't kept de Waard from searching: Although Stainless Steel shares many traits with previous releases under the Freiband-moniker, especially the contrast between sustained atmospheres and microscopic cut-ups as well as the concept of rhythm as a composite of constantly shifting non-propulsive patterns, it is also a step into a new direction. Spread out over a vinyl LP and a 3inch CD (Redux & Finale), the project is about feeding gamelan sounds through an array of hard- and software-tools, resulting in three remarkably different pieces: While "Stainless (software)" takes what seems to be a single musical phrase through a series of timbral transformations, oscillating between pensive metallic drones and chunks of diced noise, "Steel (hardware)" is entirely composed of tiny accentual permutations between a handful of abstract percussive elements. The closer you listen, meanwhile, the more the similarities are slowly beginning to outweigh the differences and you can even hear the familiar gamelan-structures shimmering through the delicate crackle field of the Redux & Finale version. It has been claimed that these recordings "reveal hidden aspects of the gamelan sonic palette", but that seems to be the very last thing they are concerned with. Rather, they're about yielding a maximum of musical complexity from a minimum of input, where nothing but the flicking of a finger could decisively change the course of the entire composition. For decades, electronic composers have sought for the ideal interface between the music in their mind and the digital medium. It seems that de Waard has found his.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Freiband / Frans de Waard
Homepage: ini.itu Records
Homepage: moll Records