24.4.10

M. Holterbach & Julia Eckhardt 'Do-Undo' [In G Maze] (The Helen Scarsdale Agency, 2010)

A new publication from The Helen Scarsdale Agency will most likely never penetrate the arms-length comfort bubbles of most people's everyday listening. But here at the Scrapyard Forecast it is most certainly always a time for celebration.


The opening seconds of Do-Undo trickle into the listener's perception, commencing with small tactile flourishes of pops and crackles,–that could easily be mistaken for one of Chris Watson's exotic animal recordings–it would appear, establishing the album's trajectory not far from the atrophied drone work of Coelacanth or Seth Nehil. Gradually, however, Julia Eckhardt's viola–recorded exclusively in the key of G–creeps into the mix, which would sound proper had it been emitted from Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument. And thus, the opener continues along a gently sloped arc, evolving as the recorded chirps of crickets and gusts of wind are introduced in the form of lopping sonic waves. Very stunning.

It was during a residency in Brussels that Mr. Holterbach was presented with a fragment of a large archive of Julia Eckhardt's stringed material. Instilled with the understanding that these recordings would act as a foundation to this collaborative effort, Hotlerbach set out to inhabit the space in and around these recordings with a tactful rigor. Over the course of the second track, "Two Stasis Made Out of Electricity" We are presented with recordings of electric power plants, arc lamps, and amplifier buzz, all slightly pitch shifted into a G proper. Compared to the opener, "two Stasis..." relies more on sustained tones similar to the oscillator work of Charlemagne Palestine, utilizing a simple yet effective technique of gradually layering each individual sound until the desired saturation is met. Finally, over the closing seconds, all is striped away except Julia's unprocessed strings and the dusty thud of the gong that started things off in the first place, as if beckoning a repeat listen. And it is the opinion of this humble critic that Do-Undo may have even more to offer the second or third time around.

1 comment:

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