Boomkat Product Review:
First LP edition of Zeitkratzer’s mesmerising 2008/09 works with the late, great Alvin Lucier, investigating the phenomenology of sound in recordings made at Philharmonie Luxembourg and GreenHouseStudio, Germany
Necessarily abbreviated for vinyl purposes, ‘Zeitkratzer: Alvin Lucier’ forms a reminder and posthumous testament to the new music performance ensemble’s intrinsic links with Lucier’s exploration of radical sound in recordings first outlined with the composer in Dijon, France, 2008. Trimmed from the original 5 pieces to 4 on the vinyl, using extended instrumental techniques to reveal unusual harmonic overtones and frequency interferences that elicit a sensual sort of poetry from the acoustic sphere.
As one of the c.20th’s greatest composers and investigators of sound in its purest forms, Alvin Lucier’s incredibly rich body of work challenges the listener’s perception of organised sound as music. Dwelling in the space between sound research and sound art, Lucier’s work probes the parameters of sound as material, and our response to that material. While ostensibly eschewing codified conventions of music’s ability to evoke broad emotions, it nevertheless generates a stranger spectrum of reactions that question what we we are hearing on the most immediate level, and the active process of listening on another, more insightful level.
On this album we witness pianos singing, pencils playing objets, and irritated strings speaking in a language of exquisite nuance. Uniquely compelling structures emerge with duration, as the highly skilled Zeitkratzer ensemble generate ultra-fine harmonic relationships and captivating timbres from the instruments, conjuring a sense of presence that plays with classical music’s roots in religious music, and its links to the acoustic architecture of churches and sacred spaces, paralleling the usual pull of Éliane Radigue’s contemporaneous c.20th works, and presaging modern, secular investigations from the likes of Kali Malone, Lee Gamble or Kevin Drumm.