Review – unter den linden – und transit (NVO) 2010 – by massimo ricci, brain dead eternity

I8U / Und Transit

Admittedly, your reviewer is still far from enlightenment in regard to the generation of Unter Den Linden. Christophe Charles refers to a concert by Mark Fell in 2009 as a “Grundton” for the composition, then specifies that sources recorded in the same year and in 1987 (!) were also used. Then again, there’s a mention of a prior piece called “HCDC”, made after the death of Daniel Charles in 2008, and a hint to Massenet for good measure. These scattered pills of knowledge should not detour the potential audience from the fact that these 30 minutes surely belong in the high ranks of acousmatic music. A masterful sequence of quiet environments and breath-holding atmospheres, ruptured by extraordinary moans of flying airplanes (as loyal readers know very well, I could listen to those sorrow-eliciting sliding drones for the whole extent of my residual life and die happy). Even the most insignificant constituents become essential, including the chugging of various vehicles or the weak signal of a radio. The composer’s insightfulness does the rest, highlighting the existential breathing that perennially underlies silence in the “right” way, creating a world of vacant presences that place the addressee inside their sheer enormity, ultimately reminding us about what “sensible listening” really means.

I8U presents the sonic result of her observation of “a particular passageway in Minoritenplatz” as she was attending an artistic residency in the Austrian city of Krems. For a second time I am left guessing by the liners, which didn’t manage to let me comprehend if that area was subsequently utilized for a quadraphonic installation, or just inspired it. Und Transit – mainly derived from field recordings – stands on its own legs without the environmental component, though. It is largely based on stationary gaseous matters and distinct tones, motionless chords and slightly anguishing impressions depicted by an otherworldly frozen ensemble (except the first movement, which – at the risk of derision – might vaguely recall the “legendary” intro to Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”). One remains enthralled by these stunning suspensions, enhanced by sharp ultrasonic frequencies that successfully divert our attention from the outside world’s remote manifestations while mixing seamlessly with the evening’s crickets. The struggle of this excellent work to prevail over the depression drawn out by the misshapen mazurka echoes coming from the neighbouring hill emphasizes the seriousness of the gap between actively researching human beings and pork-swallowing retards quite effectively. And yet, both sides share this cosmic macrocosm we were thrown in (which, to be honest, is rather degrading). Therefore, play this in utter quietness to appreciate its true worth: the fourth track – “Freitag” – is the decoding key for shaving the hairiest hearts.
massimo ricci, brain dead eternity)