Music Reviews

The purpose of this page is to provide added exposure to musicians I respect. The bar is set high. To pass Landschaft quality control, the music must be of a quality that meets or surpasses the standard that would secure them a commercial recording release, and/or that I feel an itch to do a Landschaft mix of. I do not review everything they produce - see the band's own websites for complete chronologies - what I review is what I encounter, when I encounter it.

Cordell Klier: 12 February 2008



Metadata: Album review: Repeal Compulsion. Overview: Dark Ambient; bleak. The album is available as a high bitrate MP3 from Darkwinter - dw044. A collaboration jointly by Cordell Klier "a sound artist with a reputation for being very expansive towards his work while wielding an uncompromising sophistication." and Datura 1.0 "a long standing veteran of the American noise scene.". Two artists working in partnership risks an oil and water separation. The challenge is to produce a synergistic multiplication rather than a deflated subtraction. In that respect the listener has to make his or her own mind up, for here the listener is in a cultural bubble adrift -for there are few clues or references upon which to form a judgement of this work. The title gives nothing away. A question or an exclamation; opposites. The cover art is abstract. That too provides few clues, except in a paradox - it's vivid colours contradict the monochromatic contents. And so I explore. After a deep gulp of oxygen I descend the depths, where I find dw044 lurking in the primaeval sediment. Between Coelocanth and Spider Crab, picking apart the etiolated morsels, that have sunk from more fertile strata of the biosphere. White and pink noise are the warp and weft of this work, holding the most attenuated scraps of melody and harmony together, brittle as a papyrus fragment obscured. Some would say this work is too far from it's reference points; remote in it's distance from the familiar. But others would disagree saying it defines a new border; a flag that bounds the cultural outpost. Nietzsche said, "there are no facts, only interpretations". Reversing that principle into this work, the interpretation starts by the fact that it is immediately contexted by it's placement in There is the clue to it's identity. Judge it among the work of it's peers. Prize the jgsaw piece outif it's place in the puzzle, turn it around examine it. Does it have a tale to tell, a message to deliver an image that depicts. Overtly it is deeply nhilistic - the choice of timbres has been made to make this a work that confronts and challenges. The album when listened to end to end has an anaesthetic effect. It is a mask, chaff, a consumer of the sonic space. It is then, a musical equivalent to the value Null in computing. Any operation upon Null always results in Null. But when it is initialised, it takes on the potential to be interacted upon. You need the key that effects this initialisation. The cultural reference points. I'm again struggling to find meaning and explore again the arcane histories of philosophy - via Kant's analytic synthetic distinction, part of his seminal "Critique of Pure Reason" that posits two views centered on the existence of prior experience - and on to a later exploration of the Kantian theme by the Logical Positivists who argued on the subtleties of analytic proposition: "a proposition that is made true by the conventions of language." This proposition when applied to music - or any mode of expression - of an "experimental" nature defies it's audience; the conventions of language are deliberately subverted, inviting that audience to build new associations and a new syntax. Once that process is complete, the work no longer has meaning as an abstraction - it is absorbed and becomes part of the lingua franca, and gravitates towards a place in the taxonomy of genre. So where does this leave Repeal Compulsion. In positioning itself within a genre-specific environment, the work has gone a long way down the path of definition - it falls within a structure and context. The artist has made a concious decision to position the work among an audience of peers. The language is known. Does that neutralise it as a work of art? No. Does it neutralise it as a novel work of experiment, Yes? There remains after this journey of definition - what makes good art - the subjective - do I like listening to this work. On an intellectual level, yes - it expands the mind to seek meaning when there was an empty space. On a subjective aesthetic level, the answer has to be no. It is too dark a shade, too arid. It suckles uninvited on the spirit leaving a sense of emptiness, and that is a feeling I would prefer to avoid. But Darkwinter subscribers who thrive on this feeling will take it to their heart.

Metadata: Album review: arch lexicon (PHI) / myth surpassing love surpassing myth. Overview: Dark Ambient; understated; intense. The album is available as a high bitrate MP3 from Darkwinter - dw037. Glitch and Drone. Two poles. Agitation and torpor. Competing for space in the same sonic landscape, these two forms are ably meshed in this, Klier's opus work. The tension between these diametrically opposed forms builds like a static charge crackling in random fractures. Chunks of noise shear away from the firma, spiralling into oblivion. There are few textual clues in this stark nhilistic work. The audacious challenge to the listener - to build free associations is implicitly stated from the outset. Klier's confidence in his medium of expression is masterful in this respect. This is a work that tests the limits of imagination; invites the listener to build visualisations, search for memories and associations, grasp for clues, inspiration, expectation. And that is what I like about it. It is a blank canvas to fill with the sum of one's experience. Klier does not worry about providing clues, tropes or metaphor - he trusts in his audience's own intelect to do the building. His soul is laid bare, and all we can do as humble consumers of this timeline of angst, is open our minds in return. Investing that trust will yield the reward; deny the trust and listening to this work will be an empty experience. I cannot say that this is music to "like" in the aesthetic sense. Rather it is a work that offers the opportunity for immersion in a stochastic sonic rhetoric, where the rewards are by no means predictable and may change upon each listen. This work pushed my emotional rudder off a few degrees on a new tangent - a collision of good fortune for an artist, and the mark of success in this ambitious project.