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andy ortmann - Provocative Electronics
PAN's second ever release, and arguably its finest: Provocative Electronics by Andy Ortmann. Ortmann, a self-styled "transgressive sound/visual/conceptual artist" has been wreaking havoc with synths and skew-whiff electro-acoustics since 1990 (he's a member of Panicsville and also runs the Nihilist label, home to heavy sh*t from Werewolf Jerusalem, Thurston Moore,Kevin Drumm, Wolf Eyes etc). Provocative Electronics is a career-high as far as we're concerned, and more than lives up to its title; Ortmann's experiments hit hard, but there's also a real sense of mirth and mischief, refreshing in the generally po-faced context of the electronic avant-garde. Describing his recordings as "part academic, part cheeseball" Ortmann coaxes a huge range of sounds - from malevolent drones to gastric pops and squeaks via pseudo-electro arpeggios - from an arsenal of eight different analogue synthesizers. He explicitly invokes the spirit of 60s-70s musique concrete and early electronic investigation (Xenakis, Cage, Schaeffer, Perrey, Scott, Derbyshire, Haack, Babbitt et al), and sure enough there's a sense of wonder to the three pieces here, an anything-could-happen-next spontaneity, that's all too rare in contemporary electronic music. That said, there's also an agreeable nastiness on display, betraying Ortmann's longtime immersion in harsh noise, doom metal, P.E. and the gnarliest psychedelia known to man - and it really adds to the overall head-wrecking experience of Provocative Electronics. Forget all those cliched, conservative and characterless synthesizer records doing the rounds and get a load of this bona fide modern classic.