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LP Feature/ Blindhæð: "Whether that will make people want to become archaeologists, we'll have to see"

img  Tobias

There are, roughly, two views on the purpose of music. One of them is highly stylised and breaks down the acoustic world into metaphors of rhythm, harmony and melody (think Beethoven). The other sees sound as a malleable material uniquely capable of bringing out the artistic qualities of the objects around us and telling us something profound and meaningful about the relationship between ourselves and the outside world (exemplified by the alliance between 20th and 21st century Sound Art and field recordings). And then there are expressions which fall in between these two poles – the music of Blindhead, for example. While it makes use of concrete sounds recorded at various locations, it also subjects them to  hands-on manipulations as well as several stages of digital transformation. And even though the idea of capturing aspects of reality as closely as possible is pervasive here, the musicians are also regarding the desire to minutely grind and polish these artifacts through the process of composition as something decisively inherent to the homo musicus.

This deeply felt wish to transcend the rigid borders of different aesthetic propositions has translated into a musical language comfortably bordering the lands of microtonality, musique concrete and contemporary composition. Elements are both left in their raw state or deformed beyond recognition and the original context of field recordings is either respectfully accepted in one instant or brutally ripped apart in another. Instead of making radical juxtaposition the goal of their endeavours, the band however place seminal importance on gentle transitions while maintaining the diverse nature of their motives: Almost pathological concentration takes over from showstopping virtuosity. Generally subtle and quiet dynamics are combined with powerfully sculpted bass noises of great plasticity. Sounds of a spoon softly beating a glass and of bells ringing quietly are presented in various transitory states, until they smooth out into subcutaneous, glassy drones. Motives are presented, vanish and reappear according to an unspeakable but entirely convincing logic. And throughout, the line of demarcation between concretion and confusion is turning increasingly unstable. Was that a short brush of white noise or the wind rustling in the leaves? Animal croaks or laptop crackles? As transparent and minimalistic as this galaxy appears at first, repeat listens only bring up new layers of disturbance and previously undiscovered structures of complexity instead of unraveling the secretive organisation underpinning the album.

The act of arranging these outwardly simple scenes into a complex psychedelic flow of associations is therefore the principal artistic ambition here. By returning to the work at different points of time, Blindhead have effectively turned even the most spontaneous impulses into precise coordinates and consciously alienated themselves from what used to be personal outings. The title of the record likens this technique to excavation, but it is the audience, rather than the artists, who, through wide-awake listening and active immersion, resemble archeologists digging themselves deeper and deeper into the soil in search of truth and treasure. As a listener, you need to engage with this piece, consider nothing given and allow your first impressions to be utterly disproved.

No wonder, then, that Blindhead cite Steve Roden, Asmus Tietchens and Iannis Xenakis as inspiration: All of these figureheads of electronic music, after all, interacted with music on a highly physical level, while taking their vision to the intangible pantheon of ideas. Which is not to say that this album sounds anything like them. Paradoxically it is the discreet pace, hazy mystery and serene elegance of the work which sets it apart. The presentation of „Whether that will make people...“ as a one-sided LP reinforces this self-confident image: There are no hidden messages, clever punch lines or ironic twists here. After the needle has returned to its starting position, you are left with no refuge or relief, just a lot of nagging questions and the sensation of having just experienced something profound and meaningful.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Blindhead
Homepage: ini itu Records

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