JIM O’ROURKE & CHRISTOPH HEEMANN – Plastic Palace People Vol.1


These recordings come from 1991, when O’Rourke and Heemann were – respectively – 27 and 22. Listening to them now, both men affirmed composers with hundreds of projects in their curricula, is quite amazing. It’s true: the maturity of a person (and, specifically, of a musician) is an inborn gift that can’t be acquired with sheer practice or the pretension of profoundness.

Three tracks are comprised, the first is also the longest. A growingly massive atonal drone gets splintered in bubbling globules, sinister clusters lying underneath. Shifts in the equalization progressively reveal finer details, the sources fused in a complex magmatic harmony, perennially unquiet. After that there’s a stabilization: breathing is made easier as the music becomes less claustrophobic in its ominousness. Barely past fifteen minutes, pseudo-Tibetan voices emerge to remain alone for a while, the gradual addition of layers generating a wonderfully intense meditative section that, in parts, sounds like a choir of insects. Then again: light auras, imaginary pitches, vague hints to Ligeti-dyed textures. Everything melts in a superimposition of waves and pulse growing in contrapuntal density; initially, it gives the illusion of steering and resolving somewhere, instead it just oscillates, leading to inexplicable feelings. What appears as a processed harmonium acts as a link to a segment of hectic electronics informed by a sense of utter anarchy. The classic ingredients of analogue synthesis are fully exploited; a lone, insubstantial pitch ends the whole forlornly.

Second movement. A stringed instrument, bowed slightly and disquietingly wavering, evokes an anguishing mood, past-related. Virtual utterances of horrid putrefied creatures run parallel to new droning materials and remote liquid echoes. A sequenced pulsation gathers additional faraway simulacra, the synthesizer being the only recognizable voice in this instance. Cyclical clattering patterns are brought forth, attributing concreteness to the mix. Each component counts, separated developments easily individuated. The finale sees raspy spirals, irregularly entrancing, placed in the background before an abrupt stop shuts our dream up.

The third chapter is defined by an impalpable motionlessness dictated by foggy frequencies. Hissing fumes surrounding a pallid sun, something deep inside attracting us as we get pushed by the force of a stronger throb. Circles of luminescent pictures spiral around, ultimately giving the idea of a radiant smile. Warmth seems to have finally managed to defeat coldness – with minimalist means, of all things – but the sandcastle of hope is inexorably destroyed by the ruthless ebb and flow of the sea of dissonance, closing the album in confounding suspension.

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