(Erstwhile)

Sometimes it takes quite a while, but what is indiscernible at a first try suddenly materializes right in front of you without the need of an explanation, a phenomenon of such intense inwardness that no word is justified to describe it. Between – 130 minutes of music on two discs – is one of those records where the sum of the parts (guitar and electronics, no-input mixing board) largely exceeds the expected total. Comprising four studio tracks recorded in Vienna by Christoph Amann – the third invisible member, one would say – and a live improvisation captured in Lausanne by Masaki Atsui, this is one of those most exceptional electroacoustic conversations that very rarely grace our life. Mind you, though – you’ll have to be prepared. Especially on the first disc, the spell-and-rupture contrast on the auricular membranes is particularly effective, silence broken by transfigured pitches and tones which that very silence would like to eventually die within; this circle is made more vicious by the self-governing, slightly hostile interferences applied by the two gentlemen, who fight shrill frequencies with radio waves, white noise and electrostatics – a fertilizing detritus sounding like pulverized computer memory that, somehow organically, alters our equilibrium. Continuums of educated feedback are heard from different angles, leaving ample blanks for the listeners’ imagination to insert their own judgements about the origin of these inscrutable tiny disclosures – judgements that result systematically useless, as Rowe and Nakamura gather additional mysterious imagery by mixing rustling emissions and sympathetic buzzing with low thuds, almost depicting the somnolence and the sporadic awakenings when one’s in front of an out-of-tune TV set at late night. The frequency game is careful; tinnitus and subterranean throb are juxtaposed in impressive fashion. The second CD is opened by eight minutes of harshness where the concocted shades mix the might of an electric wind with razor-like slash-and-rip attacks. “Lausanne” sounds like a studio cut even if it was recorded live, a living body whose heartbeat is progressively replaced by pressurized outbursts of metamorphic periodicities. Salvos of quirky discharges play the role of tranquillity-breaking, hush-marauding entities whose offense is a necessary toll to prosecute this low-key celebration of the unexpected, reaching its apex about 27 minutes into the piece when a deeply emotional low resonance put me right “into the zone” – if only for a minute. Always keep an eye open, though, because the insect-like crawling efficiency of the most acute frequencies is ready to catch us off guard, at least until the final minutes of the track where a hardly maintained calmness is a prologue of sorts to the conclusive “Amann”. This 20-minute inexorable underground rumble stops me in my tracks every time I listen to it; quivering lows diffuse all over the room, transforming it in a container of enigmatic powers that fuse together instead of wrestling each other. Every breath or small gesture must silently carve a microscopic niche in this ominous mantric radiation, whose position at the end of the record is the key to the comprehension of what had us puzzled and perplexed previously. The essence of this music is here, visible at last. It’s an appropriate ending to an album that sets a standard which most artists working in this area will have to seriously consider before putting out something that – when compared with Between – could be irrelevant at best.

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