CD Review:


This unusual CD is one aspect of a complex multimedia art project organized by Richard Kreische of Graz, Austria.  The liner notes are in German, with a somewhat tortured English translation. From what I can make out, it appears that an image of Kreische's hand was transmitted to a soviet space station, where the first Austrian cosmonaut processed the image in some unspecified way, and transmitted it back to earth, where the data was used to control a computer based performance of the "Blue Danube" waltz, as well as the activity of a welding robot which was building a large steel sculpture. The data was also recorded, and this disc is the result of the work of ten artists who each created a piece somehow incorporating and transforming this data in some way.

The pieces are extremely varied, and of consistently high quality.  The tracks all share a certain roughness and energy but have no obvious stylistic relation to each other. The means used are all over the map, from scored live performance for voice and percussion (Karlheinz Essl), to rock-ish midi synthesizers (Fritz Grosz, Mathias Fuchs), to wild computer-sequenced samples (Josef Klammer and Winfried Ritsch), studio electroacoustic production(Andrea Sodomka)  and bad robotic voice synthesis used to good effect (Seppo Grundler). The best tracks have the strong sense of being traces left by some complex natural/technical process which had a life of its own, rather that being themselves the precise and controlled endpoint of an intentional compositional process. 

o.t  by Peter Battisti is really something of a small masterpiece, as if composed by a master musician who was raised from birth only hearing buzzing alarm bells, cellular phones with dead batteries and computer data tapes. 

Seppo Grundler's offering actually consists of 46 short tracks (less than 5 seconds each), with short phrases spoken by a malfunctioning  voice synthesizer, in conjunction with some odd little piano fragments, raspy electric motor sounds and crude electronic waveforms. The result is surprisingly elegant and tranquil,  a haiku-like clarity somehow breaking through the remote and noisy environment.

Josef Klammer's track,  a woman's yodeling run through an electronic blender, expresses most clearly an undercurrent running through many of the pieces: the feeling of a direct and physical activity, modulated, distorted, but eventually extended through immersion in a real and inevitable technical reality. 

While the pieces differ in terms of musical style, they share this sense of emerging from a rough physical process, and it seems that most of the artists represented on the disc would agree with the remark by Peter Battisti in the notes for his piece:

"What counts: plumbing the depths of musical forms and their proliferation on the periphery of daily life with all of the poetry and sordidness of acoustic reality."