MICHAEL VORFELD – Glühlampenmusik / Light Bulb Music

Revolver Publishing

Known for numerous installations and an assortment of self-built instruments, Michael Vorfeld reveals himself to be a veritable authority in the history and functioning of light bulbs, a means that he’s often employed in his artistic enquiries. Thanks to this fascinating item (a 40-page hardbound book – written in German and English – comprising a series of splendid black and white photos of light bulbs, images taken from primeval eras to relative modernity) I found myself entirely absorbed by the wealth of details, shapes and sounds related to this progressively disappearing object, a fundamental piece of technical development in the chronicle of man’s existence and activity. Naturally the acoustic aspect remains essential, both in Vorfeld’s field of research and in this reviewer’s interest; thus it should not be surprising to learn that Light Bulb Music comes with a 42-minute, 5-track CD containing mesmeric sonic materials derived from the amplification of the noises coming from the insides of the emitters. As a light bulb has a soul – its filament – which the artist deems as an irreplaceable feature in the current lighting systems supplanting the older ones – the general sonority is defined by a natural warmth and a tendency to a physiological type of pulsation (at times enriched by toy xylophone-like accents) that is exactly what renders listening to this recording akin to a respectful nod to the pioneers who gave us a chance to “banish the shadows from our dwelling places” (Ernst Bloch, Technology And Ghost Apparitions). The disc – which should be played loud or enjoyed via headphones for best results – also constitutes a good method to develop a sense of protection, feeling surrounded by a magnified version of those infinitesimal buzzes and clicks that were a mainstay of our lonely studies late at night when we were younger. The standard of double excellence – printed matter and record alike – makes this 500-copy limited edition a must-have.

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