Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Bär / Ninni Morgia And Silvia Kastel Two Couples

[Ultramarine; 2011]

Styles: experimentalism reigns supreme
Others: Marcello Magliocchi, Cave Bears

Two Couples unites two prickly pairs — Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Bär, and Ninni Morgia And Silvia Kastel — that seem to be on the same wavelength but, upon further examination, couldn’t be locked into more disparate orbits.

Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Bär get Side A, and as they have through the all-watching eye of hundreds of cassettes and records, immediately set out to push the boundaries of what is considered music, to the point of maybe trying a little too hard to live up to their Ye Olde Ultimate Out-Sound Back Story (Kommissar Hjuler is a 40-something cop during the day who splices up his torture-porn recordings like some sort of superhero perv at night). Surprisingly, “Stalking” gets off to a promising start, coupling chimp squeaks — or maybe an electric whip — with multiple layers of rambling voices. Hey, it ain’t exactly poetry, but it’s the best I’ve heard from Hjuler and Fräulein Bär, so I’ll take it.

From there, however, the hinges slowly rust and die and the couple are reduced to coital panting, atonal strumming, screaming, shrieking — anything to get a reaction! — and other tools that would cause Les Georges Leningrad to wonder where the line is. It’s like reading that passage of American Psycho, wherein the innards of an innocent woman are eaten by a rat that has been all-too-cleverly inserted into her vagina: There are some people who would read that book just to imbibe the passage I just described. I, on the other hand, am perfectly fine with reading it once and forgetting it forever. Same with K-Hju and Ma-Bä; I hear it once and that’s good enough for me. Forgive me, but I don’t enjoy being shackled to an aural barber’s chair and worked on with a blowtorch by some sick bastard named Griff. Which isn’t to say there isn’t merit to be found in the practice; if you enjoy nails on a chalkboard, piranhas gnawing on your face, tiny demons pushing pencils into your ear, a bearded stranger raping your mom while you watch, two girls and a cup, cake farting, and all the other colors of the throw-up rainbow, you’ll eat this up like the ultimate Fear Factor shit-dish. Despite my fascination with similar acts like Cave Bears and the artists whom inhabit the flip side of this LP, I can’t jump aboard this gravy train (though I feel my lack of class should count for something).

Ninni Morgia (a guy, just so you know) and Silvia Kastel prove to be just as experimental on the flip, albeit by employing a different tenor of experimentalism. They plug along with hyper-arpeggiated thrums and lonely plucks, an echo-cavern voice and a feeling of disembodied despair. Gallon jugs are being poured, soft mallets hit home, pencils tap on desktops, guitar strings issue a pensive reply, an undulating effect weaves in and out… It’s all so distant, miles of echo and delay separating my ears from the audio, and yet I feel an instant connection to it even when I’m listening from the next room. And when Morgia and Kastel wring a high-pitched wail for all it’s worth, I’m comfortable knowing they’re not just out to test my tolerance for pain; they also want to show me corners of the out-sound spectrum I’ve yet to trespass. The result is a mix of exultance and wince that balances out perfectly, not just because of a lack of punishment but because it all sounds carefully considered and delicately — a strange word to use considering the source material, but I insist it’s a worthy term here — concocted. Which it may or may not be; how it was put together is not the point. The skill with which it was rendered is. And there you go.

Links: Ultramarine

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