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Inien: Favoriten

img  Tobias Fischer

One wouldn’t be remiss to imagine Inien’s Axel Haller and Johannes Tröndle hunched over their instruments in a room littered with vials of quick silver and white magnesium candles. You can picture their ears straining for some new sound, exploring every nook and cranny of their instruments until they hear thar eternal hum of the philosopher’s stone. John Dee‘s very own house band.-- Haller and Tröndle seem to masticate on the sounds of their electric bass and cello on Favoriten, spitting shards of their instruments back into the mortar and then grinding it all into dust. Strikingly, each track seems to be as in love with the sound of the mistake as the intended. Although in a context like this, where all the music seems badgered into existence through sheer force of will, who knows what’s a mistake and what’s not. And who cares, when there’s a track like “Kotta,“ where metal vibrates against strings, a cello saws inchoately and koto-like pizzicato emerges, a whiff of sulfur fumes as it all stops dead. These sudden stops found on many of the tracks seem almost arbitrary, as if all the pieces could go on indefinitely, locked into there own permanent furrows.

I suppose one could argue that an album as reliant on extended technique is as over-played as the free jazz blowout. Albums plumbing the audible depths of their instruments can come off as check lists of odd sounds rather than fully realized statements of interconnected parts. Certainly there are aspects of the sound catalogue on Favoriten, like an aural equivalent of the library in Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” with a book about everything imaginable -- and the range of sounds is impressive -- dry heave, electronic bruise, hornet nest scrabble, shear-wave groan. But the ferric focus to each of the pieces is unique, if slightly off-putting, like some subliminal blister on the back of your mind. But the off-putting can be a good thing, and blisters can be the best indication of a job well done, of the dignity of work. This music isn’t interested in assuaging you, but seems far more fascinated by the essence of some elemental sound- - qualifications like ugly or beautiful seem to make little sense here. It’s as if Haller and Tröndle want nothing more than to find themselves riding on that one right sound in that one right moment and to play it to pieces.

Of course, this all can be quite suffocating. The tracks are so full of single-minded activity that it verges on the airless. A welcome exception comes in the disparate, resonant plucks and rubbed metal of “Biehla,” a piece that seems to let some oxygen into the room, a shaft of light across the laboratory tiles. It stands out in an album that often seems to favor the abrasive over the delicate. Just how much of the abrasive you want in your life is up to you, but there‘s something perversely appealing to wake up some mornings, stumble to the stereo, and bask in the heavy bass throb of “Znojmo,” and suck back coffee to the blurry bowing of “Stetzch.” In fact, as the last moments of the subwoofer-pulverizing “Zajeci” fade, the silence it leaves behind can seem almost deafening, and you hope for one more track into the unknown, one more prod into some textured space of aural brimstone.

The bleary-eyed alchemists and their endless quest, experiment after experiment for the almighty Sound. Favoriten is a document of this never ending search, and if it doesn‘t always seem successful there‘s a fascination that comes in the failure, in the attempt. After all, the experiment that ultimately leads to lead can be far more fascinating than the one that results in dull old gold.

By Tanner Servoss

Homepage: Inien
Homepage: Schraum Records

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