Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review of Vertonen: The Decay That Stays Behind Lingers Beyond

Frans de Waard wrote a kind and thorough review of the release in Vital Weekly 980, which I have posted below. If you are not familiar with Vital Weekly, I encourage you to subscribe to their review email via http://www.vitalweekly.net, as it is a great resource for keeping abreast of new music.

In addition, the "subset" edition (see previous post) of The Decay... is in the process of being assembled, and I should be able to begin filling orders for those by May 1.

Thank you,

***  ***  ***

Maybe this is a glimpse of the future, as far as labels are concerned? That Lunde book, 500+ pages and CDRs and lathe cut record (see elsewhere), or perhaps this 7" box, filled with two CDRs, 1 DVDr, a lathe cut 7", a booklet, an envelope with photographs, all in a hand printed box. And of course highly limited to just 45 copies. Maybe the people want a small box of art? Let's hope so as it deserves to be out there. And maybe this is the reason why Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen, but also the CIP label (of which he says there is one more release coming) created a new imprint for this, Ballast? The booklet with text, based on James Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake', must be reviewed by someone who read the original, and that's not (yet) me: I still haven't read the original. The photographs look great, but let's turn to main course: the music and video. The first CDR is 'Spirals Of Everlisting Chance', which is dedicated to Robert Turman, and uses two four-speed turntables and six records, and it has that excellent raw noise quality that we remember from Turman's own work, but also reminds of the earliest steps of Vertonen himself, when he used turntables and sound effects. Throughout these almost forty minutes it skips (pun intended) minimally forward and backward at the same time. Gradually it seems surface noise takes over and all audio information seems to have disappeared. Almost of a similar length is the other CDR which is called 'Telephone (Hello, Hello)', dedicated to Aaron Dilloway, which 'uses a recording of 'hold' music captured from a telephone earpiece speaker via microcassette as source, which is looped, layered, and processed' as it says on the information enclosed. I am not sure how that works, but there is a short looped sound running through this piece, which only minimally gets altered but in doing so goes through lots of stages of processing and can be quite loud but also very soft. It moves through these stages in one gentle flow.
From lo-fi distortion to deep end bass rumble; one always recognizes the input - whatever that input is. This work reminds me more of Vertonen later explorations in musique concrete procedures. Excellent piece here.
On DVDR we have four videos by Eric Lunde, 'combining source material Vertonen provided with his own source material and processing. Source material turntables, opycay device and shortwave radio'. In 'Prolepsis 1' the sound is very drone like, almost in an Eliane Radigue like manner, with a very drone like film of moves shades of grey and black. In 'Prolepsis 2' this is like moving the camera over a piece of paper, with lines and letters and the soundtrack is very intense: creepy with whispering voices and highly obscured field recordings. 'Prolepsis 3' is very short and has vinyl sources, skipping and looping with a glitch video on racecars. This one didn't do much for me, unlike the 'Prolepsis 4', which is the longest video, nearly twenty-six minutes of what seems to be out of focus sunshine through leaves; or crystals melting with a green colouring effect on top. Maybe I am entirely wrong. The soundtrack is more of that lovely drone music, which is, of all the various musical interests Vertonen has, is the one I enjoy best. Deep, intense and evocative, dreaming up these slow moving images.
More Lunde, but only in dedication, is on one side of the 7". Here Vertonen uses records and spoken word in what seems to me a rather simple piece of skipping records and nothing much else. The other side is dedicated to Jason Zeh and apparently also uses voice, although harder to tell really, as well as sounds from (micro-) cassettes and tape. Here there is an excellent level of tension in the music; almost like something is going to burst and it's going to burst in a big way. I won't spoil the fun by saying it does or doesn't.
If massive packages is the future of small record labels will be releasing boxes like this, I am all for it. (FdW)

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