Nexsound – experimental, ambient, noise, improv record label


Perlonex/Keith Rowe/Charlemage Palestine – Tensions

Why does it take over two years to release such a record? Starting a review with such a bold question may sound angry, but it is actually a solid form of puzzlement from my side. In 2004 the electroacoustic trio Perlonex celebrated its fifth birthday with two performances in Berlin to which they invited Keith Rowe and Charlemagne Palestine respectively. These sets have been recorded and now put out on a double CD without overdubs or any kind of editing. Does that mean the tapes from this show were sitting in a box somewhere for over two years? Or did it take that long to find a label willing to release them? The latter reason would puzzle me even more, because all the people involved are well known in the field of electroacoustic free improvisation, have toured and made connections globally and most importantly, the two long tracks are impressive and evolve dilligently and dynamically, in other words, they are great music. Maybe I just don’t know how some things have to work to be worked out and after all, Nexsound is a perfect place for this album and I should be happy that the album is out at all. Thinking too much about structures and the powers that lead to certain decisions and actions will get me into trouble sooner or later, or so it has been prophesized to me.  CD one contains three quartes of an hour of Perlonex with Keith Rowe playing tabletop guitar. Within a few minutes layers of distant sounds, rising hissing and noises getting denser and denser evolve from about nothing, opening spaces, building walls and rooms and halls and roofs. Staying away from building a monolithic brickwall of sound, the four musicians gradually grow a stream of sounds that swells, becomes bigger and bigger and starts to incorporate more and more space. At times a simple small bellsound forms the only constant rhythmical measure while the level of noise rises. Bitstreams of digital noise as well as looped cut impromptu recordings.  After some time the soundstream has reached its culmination and starts to ebb down again, just as slowly but also just as headstrong as it grew. While listening you think that this point has come over and over again, but when it actually has come you will only have noticed when it already has gone by. More often than not you’ll be wrong. You’ll be amazed at the power this track can form without going to the extreme and harsh attack of, for example, Merzbow. Suddenly all that is left is a humming, vibrating bass sound that seems to live inside the walls rather than inside the boxes. And from there it starts again. Ebb and flow, the most eternal structure of sound there is.  CD two seems more lively and diverse, but nobody would judge if there wasn’t the comparison to Keith Rowe on the first CD. Everything seems to be more on the surface as well, the movements and changes in the music not as hidden or subdued. Signified eloquently by the introductory speech of Palestine to the audience. Electroacoustics seems to live from dynamics as well as from the diversity and curiosity of and in sound. If the track with Keith Rowe is a prime example of controlling dynamics then the track with Charlemagne Palestine is a prime example of incorporating and discovering sounds from the subconscious. On the matter of dynamics on the other hand the second CD in this package suprisingly seems even more monosyllabic and woven along a singular line than the first. But since Palestine could do wonders on a piano that has only one key left, that just adds to the full vibrating drone-atmosphere of the event. A glistening, crackling fourty minutes of sound.  Tension indeed. The most basic examination of the dynamics of tension, analysed by strengthening the density over a long period of time and then releasing it just as slowly. The true fascination of this movement is impossible for me to describe, and maybe I shouldn’t so as not to kill the organism that sound can become if treated right by manipulation and the right way of listening. Probably just a modern form of zen-breathing? Well, breathtaking it is.  Caution: if you are aware of adverse organic reactions to high frequencies, better stay away from this record.