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Is it too much?

img  Tobias

Maybe Jan-M Iversen should try running the marathon - after all, in the world of music he's the man with the long breath. His album "Restituent L'atmosphère" consists of one, 50-minute spanning piece, he has just released a DVD with an 8 hour-mega mix of older tracks (limited to only 10 copies) and in just under two years he's released an amazing 70 albums on his tibprod imprint. But all of this pales in comparison with his label's biggest bonanza: The "Catzenjammer" project.

Let's start with the facts: 4 CDs, 69 tracks, almost 5 hours of music, almost none of the artists appearing twice. This must be one of the richest efforts to map a part of the undergrund experimental electronics scene ever - and coming at an affordable price as well: 24Euros is what you'll have to pay for your trip, but you can buy each volume seperately as well. And we can assure you that every penny of that money is well spent.

CD1 is an introduction of sorts. It presents a plentiful panopticum of styles and points in the various directions the next three discs are going to take. If the whole thing were a DJ-mix, this would be the warm-up phase, when you're still relaxing at the bar, having a drink and chatting with your friends. Which is not to say it wouldn't be worth listening to these tracks with your fullest attention. In fact, there are some real gems included, which will make your heart pound faster: "Swamps Up Nostril" (where do they make up those names?) brings us neon-lights of dimly shining synth-pads, which crumble into a midnight-beat and enzo's "No World" is a miracle of a melancholic melody over a whispering groove.

CD2, meanwhile, is the one for those with strong nerves. This is a journey into noise and industrial ambiances and goes all the way from almost pure sound (Tore Honore Boe's "13051826" might well be a John Cage-cover), via almost unlistenable, high-pitch screaks ("zgvimiii" - its title is almost onomatopoetic) to the geeky electro of Japanese sound wizard Yasushi Miura. The disc closes with the twelve minute long "Chrome Toilet" by Gacky, a mixture between a radio play and pulsating bell-motives.

If you should only want one disc out of the entire series, then maybe CD3 should be your choice. Here, Iversen has managed to attract some big names for his project: Aidan Baker juxtaposes fragments of a brittle melody on the acoustic guitar and allows them to flow in- and out of each other, creating an unsettling ambiance, Nathan Mcninch (who runs the Microsuoni label) makes a statement at the verge of silence with "Winter Fold Part 2" and Emmanuel Mieville builds nebulous clouds of dark drones and tiny sound particles. This is a collection you can listen to from beginning to end without breaks.

The final installment is dedicated to free experimentation: Here, you'll find 21 collages full of wondrous sounds and almost three-dimensional scenes. It is also the part of "Catz-en-jammer", which sits closest to the avantgarde - and almost always seems to be taken directly from an installation or a multimedia project. Fascinating stuff, but don't go looking for any easy tunes.

"Catzenjammer fulfils many different purposes: First of all, it satisfies the natural curiosity of those always on the look for new music. Chances are slim that you'll ever have heard of the artists on display here (with the few exceptions indicated previously), let alone of the tracks collected on these four CDs. The sheer amount of music is staggering and will keep you glued to your chair for at least a few weeks. And it will also offer you new future favourites. You may not like all of this, but you're bound to dig quite a lot.

Secondly, this is a source of unimaginable inspiration. Whether you're happy just listening to music or creating some yourself, "Catzen-jammer" wil inject a fresh dose of ideas and energy into you. In a way, this compilation is like flipping through the Ikea-catalogue - there are clever details everywhere and because the overall concept makes sense, you're bumping into stuff all the time, which you'd never have thought of but which is exciting and new. Sound 00's "001", for example, consists of nothing more than a stinging tone and a few pin-point sharp clicks, but uses these elements to full effect. And there's more material like that, just waiting to be discovered.

And finally it goes to prove that Steve Jolliffe was right in claiming that there was no end to human creativity. You may never have heard of these artists and maybe you won't even need to remember their names. But "Catzenjammer" does a great job in shifting your perspective: After all, at some point it wasn't about names and it wasn't about bragging to other people about how many bizarre acts you knew. In fact - how ever many artists you'll know, there's always more you won't. So sit back, relax and just enjoy the music. Stop worrying about anything other than what these pieces do with you and where they are taking you - you'll need the energy to sit through this marathon of music.

Homepage: TIBProd

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