Anatomy Of A “Review”

Though I’m not exactly tooting horns around, my first CD Tracey Feels Worse came out last November 6. I’m not expecting anything particular from it; someone will appreciate it, someone else will not. It’s pretty normal. Essentially, I’m more than ready to accept all kinds of reactions to the music.

I’m also favorable to constructive criticism. However, the very first response to the album was a typically superficial “review” by Frans De Waard at Vital Weekly, which struck me as spitefully personal. Therefore, a dissection of it was deemed opportune, if anything to extract a few cold facts amidst De Waard’s general nonsense.

Please note: the bold text is nothing but a copy and paste from the press release. In essence, a sizable chunk of the “review”, as per this gentleman’s habit. The footnotes are obviously mine.

There you go.

MASSIMO RICCI – TRACEY FEELS WORSE (CD by Elevator Bath)

Ah, a colleague (1) here! Massimo Ricci is best known for his Touching Extremes blog where he pens brief reports (2) on various of the albums also covered by Vital Weekly, but not as many (3). I believe he is more selective (4), whereas we would like to think no postage is wasted. I was surprised to see a CD by him as I didn’t know he was involved in the creation of music. According to the information he calls himself a “composer using words as the main instrument” but “in the meantime Ricci keeps researching, dissecting and altering sounds, something he has been doing since the late ’60s”. I quickly checked Discogs to see what his releases were, but ‘Tracey Feels Love’ (sic) is his first (5). Recordings started in 1984 and “were radically rearranged and reformed” and is now in its final state. It is a single piece on this compact disc, thirty-five minutes long. Those thirty-five years (sic) of processing sounds resulted in a mass of sound in which we no longer recognize anything (6). It could be the slowed-down voice, a choir singing in church or anything such like but with a lot of reverb (7). The work simply fades in at the beginning and out at the end, being on its peak halfway through. It is called “the palindromic construction” in the press text. That also says that, according to the composer, “‘Tracey Feels Worse’ may be interpreted as a threnody for the risible irrationality of the human theories about creation and afterlife. Typically fabricated by minds anxious to satisfy the needs of the self, they’re pitifully inadequate for the egoless infinity of sound and silence”, and seemed in contrast with what I read earlier in the information “The work does not contain hidden meanings or esoteric implications, nor does it want to symbolize unprovable “truths.” (8) Ricci says he’s “an atheist lone wolf who despises the opportunistic traits of false spirituality”, but the whole piece reeks of a mass in church (9). It is not bad, not great either; it left me untouched. (FdW)

1) “A colleague”. I don’t consider myself as such. 

2) “Brief reports”. Translation: “authentic reviews”.

3) “Albums also covered by Vital Weekly, but not as many”. Practically none, except very rare instances. The reasons for this comparison are only known to De Waard.

4) “He is more selective”. Most definitely. I listen to a record (for real) several times before writing, and review very little of the hundreds of records I get. The latter also include music by the very De Waard, who for ages has been sending promos of his own material to this writer on a regular basis. Perhaps overlooking the more recent stuff was taken as disrespectful? 

5) “Tracey Feels Love”, huh? Most probably, De Waard was looking at a picture of Donna Summer while “listening”. Also, there was no need to check Discogs; the press release that he plundered for the “review” clearly states that this is my first record.

6) “A mass of sound in which we no longer recognize anything”. The composer’s mission is accomplished. 

7) “A choir singing in church or anything such like but with a lot of reverb”. So, De Waard did attempt to “recognize” something after all, mostly failing. In fact, neither reverb nor a church choir exist in the piece. Again, the much-useful press release clearly states that no samples were employed. 

8) “Seemed in contrast with what I read earlier”. No contradictions whatsoever. There is a difference between a hidden meaning, a truth, and a possible interpretation. De Waard is evidently unaware of this, or – more likely – he reads as superficially as he “listens”.

9) “The whole piece reeks of a mass in church”. Speaking of contradictions, I have never heard a ceremony in a church soundtracked by “a mass of sound in which we no longer recognize anything”, as per De Waard’s preceding words. Or with shifting glissando drones, for that matter.

In a nutshell, the shallow “reviewer” known as Frans De Waard elected to act like a venomous smart-ass, quickly dismissing the record while ironically “focusing” on my words for the press release after an unsolicited differentiation of our respective activities. De Waard has always been sly enough to justify his behavior on his own website. But this time he rang the wrong doorbell.

Still, he is forgiven. And, from now on, forgotten. 

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