CD Reviews

Tuesday 17th November

November 17, 2009

book_01So new CDs are piling up unplayed here again, five more arrived this morning, Brian Olewnick is reviewing things before me and Simon Reynell has heard things before I do. I must be slipping 😉 So what do I decide to do today to try and alleviate this situation? I choose to listen to and write about a free download album instead of making a dent in the pile of discs. In fact I have listened to two free downloads, one from Julien Skrobek available here and another by Olaf Hochherz. I am off out to a concert tonight (hooray! first one in ages!) so I have so far only had the time to spend with the Hochherz recording, but I will get to the Skrobek eventually. Besides, I find myself curiously attracted to creative work by people called Olaf.

Book 01 is the title of the download, which is available from Tim Blechmann’s Moka bar net label here. Regular readers might remember how taken I was with Blechmann’s duo work with Hochherz, one example of which can be downloaded from the same link above. This release contains a single twenty-three minute long track recorded using piezo contact mics and a book. Which book I am not sure, but that doesn’t matter. The music then is very quiet, consisting mainly of small squeaks and splutters of sound that very very gradually grow in volume and intensity as the piece progresses, but even at their height require the volume dial turned up to make much sense of them. Otherwise we hear a continual background hiss which reveals itself to be more detailed than pure white noise if you hike the volume right up, and occasional pops and clicks that may or may not be intentional.

It is the question of intent vs accident or incident that interest me in this release. As a straight piece of music it is fine, a nice little study in small sounds, particularly good to listen to if someone is hoovering downstairs at the same time, as happened for one of my listens this morning. The way the small sounds disappear into the every day background, or the way sounds from outside the CD player seem to appear in the music is particularly interesting on this release. Only bringing the volume right up brings some clarification to this. How much of what we hear though is deliberate? As the music consists of little more than hisses and splutters early on, a few random pops appear at a higher volume.  Are these deliberate? Or just the result of working with a vaguely precarious method of making sounds?  Does any of this matter? Would a particularly loud pop sound out of place and be deemed unacceptable?

Sorry for all the questions. I am not so sure that this is a particularly conceptually driven release, it does after all stand up as interesting detailed music in its own right, but I do find myself wondering about these things. Should I be analysing every little scratch and tremble in the music. Do they matter? The relationship of the book to the whole  thing intrigues me as well. perhaps because I began reading the Noise and Capitalism book today as well, a work that seems to relate to this music in more than one way, even if only in my head. As it is free, I’m interested in others’ thoughts on this release, let me know if you give it a listen.

Comments (4)

  • Phil Julian

    November 18, 2009 at 12:06 am

    “I’m interested in others’ thoughts on this release, let me know if you give it a listen.”

    I rather enjoyed the Hochherz recording, particularly the subtle shifts in the white noise which runs through the piece (some very nice detail in there…) The more definite pops are pretty much inevitable when working with piezoelectric contact mics which tend to be slightly unpredictable, so some of the louder sounds will be deliberate and others not. They work well as a relief against the quieter sounds so it doesn’t bother me as to whether they’re all intentional.

    I’m personally happy not to know which book is being used in the recording and actually I’m glad it’s not mentioned, as I think any title would run the risk of lumbering the piece with a defined or insinuated meaning. It works better for me as a purely abstract electronic piece, rather than being something to do with “The Koran” or “The Society of the Spectacle”… or the Yellow Pages for London South for example.

    Very interesting work.

  • Richard Pinnell

    November 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Thanks for that Phil. I tend to agree with you, it doesn’t matter which sounds are intentional or not, as listeners it is what we hear that matters in the end, but I do wonder if that is the same for musicians.

  • Phil Julian

    November 19, 2009 at 7:14 am

    “it is what we hear that matters in the end, but I do wonder if that is the same for musicians.”

    I often wonder what musicians think about. Not being one myself means it’s often difficult to tell :)

  • Richard Pinnell

    November 19, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Phil’s next album of landscape gardening will be out soon… 😉

Leave a Reply