GILLES AUBRY / ANDREA ERMKE / ANNETTE KREBS / IGNAZ SCHICK – Berlin Electronics

Absinth

Here’s an interesting, if not entirely rewarding release in a limited edition: 300 copies hand-painted by Michael Renkel (mine shows a series of deep-blue tempera splats variously placed on a folded white sheet of light cardboard). Four 3-inch discs are contained, all of them absolutely devoid of names or titles so we understand what is what exclusively by the total time indicated by the CD player as, providentially, the durations are specified on the sleeve. Aubry presents three “generative compositions for computer” involving “chance operations and feedback systems”, whose temperament ranges from hypnotically occlusive to unevenly faddish; pleasant sensations overall, but nothing really pioneering. The shortest piece – about 15 minutes, by Krebs – is also my darling: a potion of “pre-investigated materials” spiced with earth loop humming, harsh saturation, stifled drones, prying radios and, in the main, an agreeable logic of appropriate occurrence at the right moment.

On the contrary, the instalment by Schick – constructed upon overlaid strata of organ pipes, “marocan raita” (sic) and bowed turntable notes plus “harsh object sounds and electronic noise” – is perhaps the one that overstays its welcome a little bit: the original plan may have had its appeal, yet after a while this writer felt like plagued by kids playing with whistles in a nursery school situated in close proximity to an industrialized area. Ermke works quite well with field recordings and self-made rattling-and-scraping; among other things, conversations between Italians – a happening that tends to leave me befuddled when listening to allegedly investigational matters – are found. Still, despite the pseudo-contentment deriving from certain settings and combinations, I’m again compelled to archive this episode in the “been there, heard that” vault.

In general, Berlin Electronics is a fine enough but not exceptional collector’s item encompassing a few intriguing incidents in the middle of a basically average level of electroacoustic resourcefulness. All four artists can surely do much better than what’s heard here.

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