Meissner / Slavin / Sachs Into The Void

[Sub Rosa; 2006]

Rating: 2.5/5

Others: Tim Hecker, Oval, The Kallikak Family, Matmos, Terry Riley

What fails me in discussing a release as high-concept as Into The Void is aesthetic. Each of these composers spent time in Krakow recording conversations, radio transmissions, and footfalls in the snow. There seems to be some degree of socio-political commentary in the imposing song titles, but it ends there. You are left a series of hums, trills, note clusters, and skewed sound bites. So, aesthetically speaking, I can only imagine a frigid and desolate place haunted by the souls of the foresaken. "Into The Void" is, upon reading of the album’s background, more literal than I had expected.

Meissner's titular reference to Resnais' horrific film suggests that since the mass extermination of its people 60-some years ago, Krakow has never quite been the same. It makes sense, as 60 years is not that much time relative to a 700-year-old Jewish district. Naturally, the 21 songs on here match up well with such thoughts. However, as with Farina/Grey/Littleton's New Salt, if one were to listen in such a manner, the visual aspect of the works might help to hit things home, artistically speaking. The only section that approaches merely intriguing mood music territory is Slavin's. But it's still so disjointed and eerie that you are kept rigid with haunted sensation.

Into The Void is a collection of abstract impressionist music to be listened to as a whole, perhaps without following the titles. At times the titles just feel like reused journal notes that were taken down while touring the area. When an unchanging 40-second drone gets two or three bracketed titles, my pretension alarm begins to sound. So, while the music and concept may be intriguing to you, no doubt you will, like me, begin to wonder how it all comes together. As somebody who loves abstraction in music, I'm in hog heaven here. But as a human being interested in the subject at hand, the experience can become somewhat frustrating. By all accounts, this disc doesn't do much to allay that frustration. It's like a long, jarringly disorienting bad dream, with no respite other than lightly droning silence.

However earnestly the artists approached this serious subject, in the end it's more like a dadaist subversion of potent emotions created by a place where history was brutal and unrelenting to its inhabitants. There's no making light, mind you. Rather, it’s just the sort of music that revels in ambiguity. Those looking for an artistic state of the union on the district of Krakow may want to consult another work; a lot of world music fans would likely be confounded by this album. However, if you are somebody who follows drone and sound-collage music, you may be intrigued to hear how field research is incorporated into one such album.

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