Monday, 28 October 2013
Zeitkratzer - Metal Machine Music
The ensemble whose musicians are trained not only in the new and improvised music, but also expertise in the areas of noise , pop and folk possess is noticed with unorthodox projects since its inception. This includes his adaptation of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Lou Reed's guitar feedback -piece Metal Machine Music.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeitkratzer via Google Translate
zeitkratzer is sound made visible, tangible, bodily – a truly unforgettable corporal experience of live music. The physicality of sound is celebrated through extended instrumental techniques, mutual understanding and amplification of traditional instruments. A midpoint between instrumental and electronic music turns out to be more bizarre and surprising than either of these. It will make you expect more from music than you did before!
zeitkratzer is a perverse subversion of musical genres. Keiji Haino meets Karlheinz Stockhausen meets Whitehouse meets Terre Thaemlitz meets Iannis Xenakis meets Lou Reed. The joy of the intensity of sound crosses all borders and brings these musics together into zeitkratzer's plain of complex textures. A challenge to both composers and non-academic noise-makers thrown by the most talented performers, improvisers, sound artists and composers around.
Lou Reed: I'd heard of them but I wasn't deep into them but the saxophonist and gentleman who was going to transcribe it, Ulrich Kreiger, got in touch with me and asked if they could perform it and whether he could transcribe it and I said that I didn't think it could actually be done. And he said: 'Sure it can. And I'm the guy to do that'. So he said let me do five or ten minutes and let me see what you think and they did and I was... amazed by what he could do and what they could do.
Did you recognise it as being identical to the noises that you heard when you last heard the album?
LR: Oh yeah, they nailed the opening it was pretty amazing how they could do that. I had been listening to it a little bit because I had done a remastering job because it was being reissued somewhere and Bob Ludwig who had done the original record did the remastering so I was familiar with the little details.
I take it you've actually seen the physical score?
LR: His transcription I think is a work of art and should be released as such. I wanted to have it printed. It's just too good. These days there are some insanely talented young guys out there. They're... wow! Their writing chops and computers, it's amazing what these guys can do. Ulrich's a sax player!
I presume it must be quite strange looking at something that was obviously quite free when it was recorded in the form of strict musical notation?
LR: However he did it, it's amazing. They're using all analogue instruments. Pretty startling, making notations of harmonics, that's pretty amazing.
Initially, this release reminded me of that highly entertaining Honda Power Of Dreams advert (you can see it on You Tube) in which a large choir faithfully reproduces the sounds of a car being started, driving over gravel, accelerating, cruising, and so on. Close your eyes and you wouldn't know it was a choir rather than a car. Clever, but also a bit pointless—like a dog walking in its hind legs. Why use a choir to copy the sounds of a car? Why use ten musicians to faithfully reproduce the sound of two guitars feeding back?
But gradually, the new album has grown on me. As good a copy as it is, Zeitkratzer's version sounds less metallic than Reed's original, not surprising given the very different instrumentation. The way in which Krieger's own saxophones, overblown using circular breathing techniques, reproduce the scream of feedback is mightily impressive and could have been the impetus for him to start the transcription. The high pitched whines from the strings are equally effective in evoking feedback. Each of the players contributes to filling in the all-important details; the totality effectively reproduces MMM's tension between an unchanging overall sound texture and a constantly shifting sound field.
For once, the DVD is not an irrelevant extra included to bulk out the package and hike the price, but a vital part of the experience. To see the musicians all feverishly playing at full tilt in order to produce the music of MMM is a fascinating sight. The interview with Reed (despite a rather stilted interviewer) is no filler either. It throws light on Reed's current view of MMM and its history (which may or may not be historically accurate, but is certainly entertaining to hear).
My guess is that MMM will be remembered far longer than Reed's "Perfect Day or "Walk On The Wild Side . This latest release continues the rehabilitation process.