Andrew Pekler
Strings + Feedback Staubgold http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton5085_0.jpg

[Staubgold; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5 4.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: electronic, 20th Century classical composition, cinematic digital manipulations
Others: John Cage, Janek Schaefer, Jan Jelinek, Ekkehard Ehlers


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


Though his first two albums on Stefan Betke's ~Scape label featured dubbier and comparatively more conventional sound collages based on reconstituted samples from jazz recordings, Strings + Feedback, the Staubgold debut from Andrew Pekler, is an altogether different sort of musical endeavor. On a merely superficial level, the album delivers on the promise of its title: the recording consists primarily of digitally manipulated samples of strings and feedback. It is assembled entirely from deconstructed and then reconstructed classical string and piano passages lifted mainly from avant-garde recordings by experimental composer Morton Feldman. An undeniably noteworthy achievement, Pekler's third full-length is an astonishing and rare combination of form, substance, and compositional brilliance.

At first glance, the album cover, with its archaic and simplistic circuit illustration, gives the misleading impression that the record will be simply another in the seemingly never-ending string of abstract minimalist recordings of late, replete with noisy electronic glitch. In fact, the compact disc managed to make it to the bottom of this reviewer's "to review" pile without more than a cursory examination. Though at times the recording is in fact inclined towards the abstract, there is absolutely nothing minimal about Strings + Feedback. As if to painfully (and embarrassingly) reinforce the aphoristic cliché that one cannot judge a book by its cover, the album reveals itself to be one of the most impressive works of electronic music to have been released so far this century. The recording is also a densely and refreshingly organic effort that is a colossal step forward for Pekler, who is clearly interested in pushing his compositional capabilities far past the usual boundaries.

The Feldman pieces Pekler has chosen to utilize as a basis for these recordings were committed to tape in the 1950s. In terms of its late-night, cinematic scope of vision and film noir sensibility, Strings + Feedback is similar to its predecessors, Pekler's 2002 release Station to Station and 2004's Nocturnes, False Dawns & Breakdowns. The similarities, however, go no further than that. Pekler's newest offering evokes an atomic age claustrophobia and Cold War chill. Strings + Feedback is an anachronistic, painstakingly assembled tour de force that, though it is occasionally identifiable as a contemporary work of electronic composition, sounds as if it could have been recorded in some sort of government-funded experimental sound laboratory in the '50s. Pekler's meticulous reconstructions of these chamber pieces recall the eerie film scores of the golden age of science fiction film, as do the Theremin-like sine tones employed on several tracks to boot.

What impresses most, perhaps, about Strings + Feeback is that, despite the limited nature of the source material, Pekler has managed to create vast array of unique pieces that are in no way homogeneous. It's a brooding and majestic recording that demands repeated spins and never disappoints. Andrew Pekler has crafted a magnum opus of innovation that effectively captures the skittery paranoia of a bygone era, while remaining deeply rooted in the present. It's a positively essential release.

1. P'luckd
2. Localite
3. Ogonjok
4. Pale Fyr
5. Mirrorise
6. Vor
7. Refusenik
8. Double Moon
9. Cygnus
10. Oragainst

1. P'luckd
2. Localite
3. Ogonjok
4. Pale Fyr
5. Mirrorise
6. Vor
7. Refusenik
8. Double Moon
9. Cygnus
10. Oragainst