|Crackles and Crunches |
Kaspars Groševs, Artist
Erikm - Steme (2008)
Christian Marclay – Records 1981–1989 (1997)
Yasunao Tone – Solo For Wounded CD (1997)
Erikm. Steme. 2008
|Erikm – Stéme|
Along with Janek Schaefer and Yoshihide Otomo, the French artist eRikm (born 1970) may be considered as one of the more well known followers of Marclay. Vinyl records are powerful instruments in the hands of these artists, from which anything can be prised out. However, in this album eRikm has turned to compact discs and their defects, although not in such a direct and brutal way as Tone. The composer has improvised with a damaged CD on which ten short pieces had been re¬corded. This is the source material for the electro-acoustic compositions of Stéme. The resulting eight tracks are teeming with sounds of diverse nature, linked up in dynamic and motley constructions, as well as in more flowing structures. The second part of the album consists of a 20 minute long, dense and intensive, but at the same time distinctly minimal landscape of sound, after which silence seems deafening.
In contrast to the works of Marclay and Tone, the final objective of this recording is not the relationship between the source of the sound and the medium of the music. The result is so interesting from the viewpoint of sound and construction that the process of how the recording was made seems to be of a lesser importance. At times it is hard to tell that the spatial swishing, its amplifications and variations, the shrill noises and digital crackles have come from a damaged compact disc, but there’s no need to. Here also, it seems, lies the answer to the initial question.
The album is available for purchase at: www.room40.org. The CD comes with a score, which reveals the process involved and compositional choices.
Christian Marclay. Records 1981 - 1989. 1997
|Christian Marclay – Records 1981–1989|
Does music gain added value from the techniques used and the way it has been created, or would it seem just as good or bad if we did not have the slightest idea about the origin of the sounds? Even if, in the case of Christian Marclay (born 1955), it is somewhat hard to divine the merest hint about the origin of all those crackles, crunches and fragments of worn records which have been dispassionately cut up and otherwise distorted. Bent, deformed, and fused together, laid out all over the floor, broken, cut up and put back together vinyl records became the main components of Marclay’s art works, performances and music recordings in the 1980s. With perseverance which, it seems, borders on obsession, he has tried out just about all the possible combinations of using this medium of recorded music that was so common only 30 years ago.
Marclay is often mentioned as a significant sound artist who has fused the boundaries of music and art worlds, both exhibiting his works at art galleries and performing as a musician. Many of his early works resemble light-hearted games with the material, trying to use it in as many different combinations as possible – covering the gallery floor with vinyl records (Footsteps, 1989), making people literally “play” the records by brandishing and bending them (Record Players, 1984), releasing a record without a protecting sleeve, which inevitably makes the record get scuffed sooner (Record Without a Cover, 1985), as well as creating numerous vinyl collages by gluing together fragments of several different records (Recycled Records, 1980–1986).
This release contains the most interesting pieces of the artist which have (of course) been created by numerous manipulations of vinyl records, and recorded at a time when hip hop subculture began to develop and spread, but there are only few works where Marley sounds like a DJ. More often his squad of turntable players seems to act as a new type of instrument, where scratching is only one of its possible functions. The hearing organs are attacked by a multi-layered, at times cacophonous avalanche of most diverse musical fragments and sound loops. For an unprepared listener the first introduction to this record could also be the last: oftentimes the unrhythmic, hysterical overabundance of noises demands thorough concentration, although the over fifty minutes long compilation contains rather diverse works – from the shrill chaos of endless loops to rhythmic collages of music and speech recordings.
Nonetheless, in the last decade the artist has turned to other materials and means of expression. The video work Guitar Drag (2000) shows an electric guitar which is attached to a car by rope and pulled along the middle of a field, and we hear the sounds created in this process – a raw noise created by the instrument which fuses with the scraping of the body of the guitar against the ground.
In Paris a few years ago there was a retrospective exhibition of Marclay’s works, where significant prominence was given to video works, for example Telephone, which is a montage of classic telephone call scenes from films. One of his most successful works is the ironic four-channel video installation Crossfire (2007), a series of the raciest shooting scenes from American ac¬tion films shown in sequence, one after another. The shooting action takes place from all directions – Stallone is shooting at Van Damme, Schwarzenegger is shooting at Norris, and all of them are shooting at the viewer, creating an impressive rhythmical collage. Marclay’s maniacal tendency to recycle all kinds of musical and film artefacts appeared in a new light in this exhibition, although his most well known weapon will probably always remain the glued-together vinyl record.
The album can be purchased on the website: www.atavistic.com.
Yasunao Tone. Solo for Wounded CD. 1997
|Yasunao Tone – Solo For Wounded CD|
Yasunao Tone (born 1935) is one of the founders of the Fluxus movement in Japan, who has worked together with Yoko Ono as well as John Cage. After moving to the United States he turned to various methods of transforming text into sounds in his works. Solo for Wounded CD is considered to be the best-known work of the artist. Since 1985 Tone has created several musical pieces of this series, in which he uses compact discs with small pieces of perforated tape glued to them.
It seems that Solo For Wounded CD functions more like a documentation of a significant work of art. The work Music For 2 CD Players (1986) was created in a similar fashion, where works of other authors are digitally “wounded”, however, for this compilation Tone has used a copy of his own album Musica Iconologos, emphasizing that his own material is ideally suited for the creation of shrill and incoherent noises. Musica Iconologos is a work where the Chinese characters of two ancient Chinese poems are transformed into photographic images, which in turn are transformed into binary code that the computer reads as sound waves, as a result creating “noise in every sense of the word”. The disc player, having lost control over the tape-covered discs, frantically skips from one bit to the next, seeking an undamaged section without success.
Listening to this album, released by John Zorn’s record company Tzadik and including 2 pieces of a total length of 75 minutes, is a rather difficult test for anyone. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to forget that the source is a thoroughly damaged compact disc. Almost everyone is familiar with the rhythmical skipping characteristic of this defect. However, Tone’s cool and conceptual approach seems to fit in organically with the digital noises prepared by the artist.
The album can be purchased at: www.tzadik.com.
/Translator into English: Vita Limanoviča/