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Friday, 4 June 2010

Anton Bruhin - 'InOut' (Alga Marghen)

The cover of this nice Alga digipak shows four cassette tapes, labeled to match the four tracks presented here, spanning 1976-1981. Cassette tape (TDK, for the most part) was Bruhin's preferred recording format and in the case of the titular piece, the means of construction. 'InOut' is a 23 minute composition that uses a variety of household/skiffle band soundmaking devices in conjunction with rapid-fire pause-button recording technique. The main theme of 'InOut' is the pause button itself, which is an everpresent click. The split-second bursts of sound are constructed with great regard to linearity, creating dazzling runs that resemble microtonal robots or synth-step filters, though done in the most lo-fi of settings. It's mean to be listened to, not read about, because it's a dazzling, stunning work - the kind that gives me that invigorating feeling and reminds me why I like experimental music in the first place. Nothing else sounds like this. 'Musik, vielleicht für Sie' does use a very long reel-to-reel loop, bypassing the erase head, a technique often employed by tape loop geeks worldwife. Bruhin uses a homemade PVC pipe, voice, and some other small instrument to build his sound world over 25 minutes, but instead of sounding like an Alvin Lucier decay-piece, it's more like a personal exploration of memory and texture. You can hear the physical space here, but maybe you actually can't and we're all victims of another trompe l'ear game. 'Wochenwende' makes use of the built-in speaker on a cassette player and all of its shitty frequence response. This is six layers that again employ small instruments for a more gradual shifting effect, again a nice track, but perhaps the least distinctive. And finally, Bruhin closes with 'Die Welt', a poem from the 1600's read and deconstructed via variable speed tape. The effect is not unlike something from the early 80's Ralph Records catalogue, all goofy and modulated but choppy in all the right places. You'll see a huge amount of tape experimentation across these blogs and I'm still two thumbs up for the medium, despite -- in fact, because of - it's supposed 'obsolescence'. But while much of the great tape experimentation and sound poetry was done with fancy (for the time) equipment, Bruhin had a total cheapskate approach. His results are as brilliant as anything you'll ever hear, and the trash-aesthetic of it is part of why I love it so much.

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