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Ernst Karel/Annette Krebs, "Falter 1-5"

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cover image Across the five pieces on this album, Ernst Karel and Annette Krebs explore an expansive but tiny sound world; the crackles and rough noises are akin to macro photos of the components of unknown objects. The whole item is out of frame but the viewer (or in this case, listener) is given a generous amount of detail of a small part. Here the sources of the sounds are deliberately kept obfuscated but it forces the listener to pay attention to the minutiae of these noises. The result is an engaging and exhausting album which challenges and drains in equal measure.

Cathnor Recordings

While the music is generally formless, it is not lacking in direction. As Karel generates swells of electronic sound, Krebs populates these empty landscapes with tiny denizens and features. Her guitar playing is mostly camouflaged, what I assume is Karel’s work could be hers or equally what is listed as "objects" and "tape" in the liner notes I could be misidentifying as being something else entirely. The textures in "Falter 3" could easily be stones being rubbed together, apples being crushed or electronically synthesized. The ambiguity of the sounds gives the pieces on Falter 1-5 their attraction; there is nothing like a good mystery.

While it is easy to make comparisons with artists like Jacob Kirkegaard and even Philip Jeck, Karel and Krebs take a less conceptual approach to their music. The music falls closer to free improvisation than to the careful electronic works that would be at home on Touch. As such, Falter 1-5 does not lend itself to background listening as the contrasts and juxtapositions of the various sounds manifests only with careful attention. The silent pauses that appear throughout the album bring to mind the anti-rhythms of Keiji Haino; a sudden void which gives the listener a moment to take in what they have just heard.

"Falter 5" introduces a wider range of materials, human voices appear through a haze of tape hiss and the duo take on a tighter, almost musical approach to playing. It is the densest of the five pieces and stands out because of its sonic concentration. As it peters out and leaves a final blank slate hanging in the air, it is hard to enter into the music again or even to replace Karel and Krebs with something less intense. Falter 1-5 is one of those albums which is a gentle ripple on the surface but deep with hidden power, dragging me under and leaving me in no fit state to function afterward.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 05 September 2010 21:32  


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