CATALOG: mikroton cd 11
RELEASE: April 2011
eRikm 3k-pad loop system & electronics
Norbert Möslang cracked everyday-electronics
eRikm first met Norbert Möslang in December 1998 at the festival More Scratch in Nantes when they first played together as part of ad-lib quartet gig which later became known as poire_z, a prominent electroacoustic improvisation quartet which existed until the split of Voice Crack in 2002.
Norbert Möslang has been playing in Voice Crack duo with Andy Guhl since 1972, they’ve been working with “cracked everyday-electronics”, modifying and recontextualising the use of home electronics. After the split he continued working solo and in different musical combinations using “cracked everyday-electronics”, among them a duo with eRikm with whom he played in duo from time to time since 2002. He released numerous solo albums as well as collaborations with Günter Müller, Jason Kahn, Ralf Wehowsky, Tomas Korber, Aube, Christian Weber, Katsura Yamauchi. He is part of Signal Quintet and mkm. Recently he released a solo record The Sound Of Insects on his own Bots imprint.
eRikm, based in Marseille, started his musicial activities as a virtuoso turntablist in early 90s, gradually shifting his focus to more abstract music, sometimes abandoning turntables or substituting them with minidiscs or CD-turntables. His recent record output includes collaborations with Michel Doneda, Jerome Noetinger, dieb13, the late Luc Ferrari, Thomas Lehn a s well as solo albums Variations Opportunistes, Sixpériodes, Stème and the most recent Lux Paylettes.
Stodgy collects 3 recordings made while playing concerts in Europe between 2002 and 2005. They create an atmosphere of crafted danger featuring jagged shards of buzzes, hisses, noises and stodgy abrasiveness. Magnificently mastered by Guiseppe Ielasi. Paradoxically serial for this kind of music and minimalist design made by Kurt Liedwart.
Since the early 1970's, Norbert Möslang has made a career of coaxing dynamic sound through the hack and animation of utilitarian devices (i.e. radio controlled cars, children's toys such as the Mega Mouth, phosphorescent lights for the installation and album Capture). eRikm's invention on his 3k Pad (aka three Kaoss Pads) Loop System and dual turntable set up, coupled with supernatural technical dexterity, puts him in a category bin somewhere between Christian Marclay and DJ Qbert. On Stodgy, the duo coalesce four early 2000's European performances into three works of managed disarray inside artificial environments.
"Stinger" begins with a series of electrical swells, adding rich harmonic content with each panning pass to offset the potential idiosyncratic shrillness (think the art of making the squeal of your vacuum pleasant). Soon, a steady digital tick is introduced, and then another to add polyrhythmic offset before the track crescendos and falls into a low, hypnotic chug; sonic elements bubble, splinter, receive heavy doses of reverb; a hyperactive horde of mechanical misfires and manipulations rises, climaxes and gives way to a duet of a barely registered, dog whistle range tone and miniature UFO touchdown. On "Aérolithe", a nudging rev gradually pitches upward, pulling along a wagon of detritus — define that as the hive mind of Möslang's whirring surges and eRikm's octopus juggle to simultaneously button push, finger slide a Kaoss Pad, platter spin and rapid-fire record change). For seven minutes, the piece builds into a hurricane whose tranquil eye is never met as, having reached the most voluminous height, the only surprise left is to abruptly power off to silence.
eRikm and Möslang further incorporate these patterns of maximal to minimal for the fifteen-minute "Micelle", loosely following the form of the first piece, though employing new and augmented sounds from their vast palette. After a dual of what sounds like three arcade games going haywire, they bring the pulse back and settle into an extended passage based on a loose drum break and jumpy bass stabs (reminiscent of the moments when Autechre moves past development and lets their frame fall askew before changing scenes); the beat fails, the acid carries on strong, but eventually is pulled into a cloud of buzzing drones and dying sirens.
At just over a half-hour, Stodgy offers a lot, but stops just at the point of overload. (Insert clever polymorphism and function overloading analogy with regard to eRikm and Möslang's capacity to master machines / understand their nature better than the creators here — I'm going back in for another thirty minutes!)
I like the title. :-) And the music, if not stodgy, does carry a whiff of nostalgia, evoking those halcyon days of the early oughts when the rambunctious noise of cracked electronics with at least an implied rhythmic base could be exciting. In fact, these pieces stem from 2002-05 and do reasonably capture the spirit of Voice Crack, ErikM, Jerome Noetinger, etc. from around that time, the hurly-burly of a certain kind of sound that was at once rough but kind of…globular, the really harsh edges having been eroded away somewhat, perhaps midway between the truly severe and the area that would soon be explored by Gunter Muller and often released by For 4 Ears. It’s aggressive, full, more or less non-stop, one of the motives being to establish a thick wall of sonics, a dripping mass of electronica propelled along by, as stated above, some sort of throb or pulse. I recall thinking that, at its best, this branch of music was a kind of guilty pleasure, a big gob of taffy to ameliorate the leaner (in a purely volumetric sense) offerings available elsewhere. I can still reach that frame of mind, though I grant that it’s tougher these days; I think I’ve been largely sated by these particular flavors. Still and all, a representative and good sample of ErikM’s and Moslang’s work, doubtless to be highly enjoyed by their fans.
Russia’s Mikroton label sort of specializes in improvised music with an electronic/laptop edge. These two are a bit different. First of all, they don’t use a laptop. But the release by eRikm and Norbert Moslang comes closest to the label’s initial output as they use a 3k-pad loop system and electronics (eRikm) and cracked everyday-electronics (Moslang). If I understand right, these three tracks are recorded at four different concerts from the period 2002-2005 and then mixed by eRikm. This is a great affair: vibrant, energetic, noise based improvisations. I once saw, ages ago, Moslang in concert, and this recording revives that memory. These two men move between the loud, super loud and a little less loud, but never is really very quiet. A mean beast of improvised noise music, at times reminding the listener of say Merzbow. Its never a steady stream of distortion and feedback, but an energetic collage of sounds, which goes out all the way, with crushing bass sounds and high piercing sounds. Although quite short, just over thirty minutes, this leaves the listener grasping for air, certainly when played at a loud volume, which I guess is the only option you have.
Odd name for an album that isn’t at all what I’d call stodgy (“heavy, dull, or uninteresting; tediously commonplace; boring; of a thick, semisolid consistency; heavy; stocky; thick-set”). True, there’s some thunderous low end and plenty of ominous squelching and rumbling going on in these three relatively brief – total duration just under half an hour – pieces by Mr. m (“3k pad, loop, system and electronics”) and and Mr. M. (“cracked everyday electronics”), but the overall feel of the album is quite punchy and boisterous. We’re back to that old (yawn) question of where to draw the lines between EAI, noise and electronica again – when things get going you could be forgiven for identifying it as Merzbow at his most user-friendly, and the musicians’ fondness for rhythmic periodicity in the form of crunchy loops is a further reminder that these two blokes have never been easy to pigeonhole. You might even argue that Möslang and his erstwhile sparring partner in Voice Crack, Andy Guhl, were busy making EAI long before anyone had even started worrying about what to call it. But whatever shelf you choose to file it away on, Stodgy is a refreshing blast of creative strength from two experienced professionals.
Stodgy, c’est trois pièces assez courtes enregistrées dans les années 2000 avec la moitié de poire_z, soit eRikm et Norbert Möslang (membre également de Voice Crack, le légendaire groupe d’improvisation noise suisse). J’ai presque envie de dire heureusement, ce disque n’est pas long, car les trois morceaux présentés ici sont violents, et n’offrent pas beaucoup de répit et/ou de repos aux auditeurs. Trente minutes de triturations électroniques et numériques, de larsens contrôlés et de crépitements assourdissants, de bruits blancs et de drones, de rythmiques proches du breakcore et du hardcore. Musique résiduelle en quelque sorte cette fois encore, une musique que l’on doit aux imperfections de toute sorte d’appareils pouvant multiplier les fréquences audibles ou non. eRikm muni d’un 3k-pad, de boucles numériques, et d’électroniques d’un côté, de l’autre, Möslang avec son installation électronique défaillante; le duo ne fait pas dans la dentelle mais tisse un réseau très dense de fréquences stridentes, grinçantes, violentes, puissantes et agressives, accompagnés parfois de souvenirs évanescents et dadaïstes de musiques de rave. C’est d’ailleurs ici que l’on reconnait le mieux eRikm et ses intenses collages hystériques et épileptiques.
Trois collages denses et intenses, d’une agressivité puissante, d’une violence exceptionnellement agréable, parfaitement mixés et masterisés par eRikm et Giuseppe Ielasi. Boucles, rythmiques, tissage nodal de fréquences stridentes et résiduelles, bruit blanc et larsens, s’enchaînent pendant trois morceaux avec une logique toujours surprenante, dans des structures rebondissantes et hyperactives. Recommandé!
Home again tonight then, actually feeling a little worse for wear after a couple of days of decadent living, too much food, not enough exercise 9because of the bad weather) etc… still, we had a great time. This evening, since getting back I have spent most of my time sat very still, reading a book, studying the sleeves of the sixteen pieces of vinyl I brought back with me and listening to some music. Its almost an odd feeling to put on a CD tonight after a couple of days almost without music. I do Julie the favour of not attempting to play anything when we go away like this, and to be honest it does me good to take a break as well, though there really is no way to switch my ears off fully. This morning, sat quietly on the sofa nursing a badly needed coffee that had been delayed because of a temporary power failure, I shut my eyes and listened to everything around me. Julie was in the shower, and the unmistakeable rush of water could be heard, but also the similar, but less concentrated sound of heavy rain hitting the roof could be heard. Alongside this the fridge in the apartment let out a gentle hum and BBC Radio 3, playing very quietly beside me let a scratchy recording of a Brahms piano/violin piece recorded back in the thirties mingle with everything else. So I don’t take any CDs away with me, but the listening moments are still often sublime, and the more relaxed I am, the more acute they seem to get. Anyway… a CD…
Tonight I have been listening to Stodgy, the rather excellently titled new album on MIkroton by the duo of Norbert Moslang (cracked everyday electronics) and eRikm (3k-pad loop system and electonics, obviously). Now, I have to admit to not really being much of a fan of either of these guys’ music before in the past. They have released a lot of music, and there have been nice little bits here and there, but generally both musicians, even though they have worked in quite different areas in the past, have tended to fall just outside of my taste bracket in the past. Moslang, in his work with Voice Crack and later solo always just a bit too ugly/grainy electronic splatter for my liking and eRikm has just leant a little too close to the fast cuts of hip hop production. No qualitative judgements made then, just a recognition of the gap between the sounds these guys make and my personal taste. So a duo CD of older recordings by the pair might not be something I’d enjoy that much then?
Well yes and no. The palette of sounds used here is still not entirely one that I like that much, but in places the structure of the music here is very appealing indeed. There are three tracks, but then also four “ad-lib” recording sites are listed Â which is an interesting choice of words, as I assume that at least to some degree the pieces are improvised, or maybe are constructed from improvised material. The material used has been recorded at four different live shows spread across three different countries, recorded over a three year period between 2002 and 2005, and yet the music has a consistency throughout that could easily see the music mistaken for the results of one session. So Moslang’s buzzing, groaning, misfiring electronics, and eRikm’s squelchy, synthetic scribbling often feel as frenetic and loose as ever, but there is a sense of post-production based composition here that somehow overlays a frame of control over at least some of the music, keeps it from feeling just too wild and abandoned and makes Stodgy feel a lot less, well, stodgy and instead more carefully arranged. To be clear, I think these pieces are mostly improvised, as they retain a lot of fluidity, but it does feel like they have been arranged at least in some part.
There isn’t really much silence here, for the most part the CD is on the louder side, but there are subtle clips and cuts applied to the music that tend to reign in sections that feel bloated and stretch things out generally, placing quiet, burbling sections together, allowing the music to build in density before either being cut dead or gently collapsed in on itself. It all still sounds like an accident when an emergency vehicle with a broken siren crashed into a shortwave radio factory, but Â the degree of composition I am assuming has been applied retrospectively to the recordings to create these three works manages to reel in enough of the chaos to produce something actually quite listenable and engaging. The stodginess is still there, and maybe this isn’t a CD to put on on a quiet evening when you want to listen to something quietly refined, but the album is only half an hour long, and a fair amount of restraint and self-control has been applied throughout to make this into an album I could easily play several times over the last week and enjoy each time. I’m interested then, to know how much of this music is a straight recording of the improvisations, and how much has been adjusted later. Nice sleeve image by the way…