FREIBAND – Stainless Steel

Ini Itu

One of the various aliases of Frans De Waard, whose activity spans across the engendering of frequently captivating electronica, the organization of artistic events and his world-famous PacMan-like gulping of thousands of records for the brief reports that he and his comrades churn out in Vital Weekly. Stainless Steel is a vinyl album (playable at variable speeds and ending with locked grooves) that comes with two entirely different “styles” on each face. The first, organized around a treatment of gamelan sounds, is a decent episode of hypnotizing music whose main attraction lies in the continuous morphing of the timbral spectrum in a now static, now turbulent environment. The Balinese sources are partially recognizable in their essence, but the result is definitely electronic in its complexion, and sufficiently rewarding (I was tempted to write “DeWaarding”…). The second side is an exercise – and I’m being good-hearted in calling it so – for superimposed/looped toneless pulses-cum-click-and-pop that could even be called “stark minimalism”, but in reality is pretty boring and loses steam after just a few minutes. The press release mentions Steve Reich and Thomas Köner, both of whom might file a lawsuit for the disrespectful comparison. Overall, this record seems to work as an object for an ideological statement rather than the container of deeply meaningful sonic matter, despite the unquestionable appeal generated by some of the components (which ultimately recall the principal influence, Asmus Tietchens, more or less directly). Freiband has done, and can do, much better.
POST SCRIPTUM. Only a few hours after posting the review I realized that there was a 3-inch CD in the record’s sleeve, called Stainless Steel Redux & Finale. It’s a 19-minute track starting and ending with complete silence (except the very final moments, in which we’re offered a helping of the actual gamelan from which everything took shape). Sub-bass and hyper-acute frequencies have their say in a very sparse piece that, in some aspect, is better than its predecessor on the first side of the LP.

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