ACHIM WOLLSCHEID / 60 x X
The original version of 60 x X was created at Radio X in Frankfurt, where Achim Wollscheid is a DJ. The Ritornell web site explains that Wollscheid used all of the station’s available CD, cassette, and record players to combine a variety of sound sources together. He then filtered the resulting mess through a computer program and distorted its contents until they turned into the music on this release. This is not a mix album because the songs used as source materials here are virtually unrecognizable. Sure, a stray beat or string sound might show up and sound familiar, but that familiarity is quickly obscured by fuzzy noise and other fluttering samples. The point of this work, I believe, is simply to demonstrate how, in this digital world, songs and beats and melodies and all the other things we associate with music are really just malleable sounds, waiting for someone to come along and reshape them, redefine them, and recontextualize them.
Ah, but wouldn’t most people prefer listening to Radiohead’s “Karma Police” rather than listening to a sample from “Karma Police” that has been digitally fucked up beyond recognition? You bet. And, frankly, that’s why Ritornell and Mille Plateaux releases like this one–releases that are founded on a concept or philosophical tenet–are more annoying than intriguing. Trying to make a point will always sound boring.
What saves Wollscheid’s work is the simple fact that his music actually does sound interesting. There’s some funky, engaging, listenable stuff here, stuff that rivals the works of Sogar or Dan Abrams or Fennesz or any of the other experimental electronic artists who manage to find interesting and enjoyable ways to experiment with sound. From tracks 7 to 12 (there are 60 one-minute tracks here, all unnamed and joined together without breaks or gaps), the music shifts from a digital waterfall noise to water chimes to metallic clashing sounds to gunfire of various frequencies to a digital panoply of water, metal, and gun sounds mixed into a noise salad. There are other sounds that pepper each of these track, floating above or digging under the main half-rhythms, making the works far more complex than my brief descriptions suggest. But the effect of this slow mutation is quite startling and quite engaging.
It’s not always engaging, however. There are plenty of tracks that seem like respites–repetitive, redundant tracks waiting for some more interesting bits to take their place. There are about five of these, and they do drag the pace down a bit. There are also some tracks that are simply annoying, as with track 30, a big, noisy track that gets a bit old, even though it’s only one minute long.
In short, when Wollscheid’s experiment works, it works very well. But the work as a whole is a bit uneven. That’s partly the product of the experiment itself: after all, the whole thing was culled from live, improvised recordings. While improvisation can be wonderfully inventive, they are also a bit hit-or-miss. There are some “misses” here, and these misses prevent 60 x X from being a truly outstanding work. But there is enough interesting, engaging, and pleasurable music on this release to make it worth checking out.
Achim Wollscheid es un artista cuyo trabajo durante los ltimos 20 aos ha sido considerado como la punta de lanza de la msica experimental. En todo esta trayectoria su trabajo sonoro ha conducido a Wollscheid a profundizar en la relacin entre sonido, luz y el espacio arquitectnico, como demuestran sus obras de gran carcter interactivo. Fue miembro fundador de la importante plataforma alemana Selektion, organizacin para la produccin y distribucin de sistemas de informacin. Ha publicado varios libros como “The terrorized term” (1999) o “Selected works 1990-2000? (2001) y ha participado en infinidad de publicaciones como “Social Music” (Errant bodies, 2002). Ha actuado y presentado proyectos de instalaciones internacionalmente.
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