Boomkat Product Review:
Dense, crushing electronic works from Jesse Osborne-Lanthier and Raster Noton's Grischa Lichtenberger, featuring three deadly reworks from Rabit, Low Jack and Gabor Lázár.
Conversation Sur Lettres Mortes is a physically affective conceptual album revolving around the relationship between Berlin’s Jesse Osborne Lanthier & Grischa Lichtenberger and the archaic apparatus of old cathode ray televisions and VHS units. It was first conceived as a live project for the Mutek/Elektra festival 2014 at the MAC in Montréal, QC Canada, and now lands heavy on Cosmo Rhythmatic - the label curated by Shapednoise with his buddies D. Carbone and Ascion.
The project should surely resonate with anyone who grew up in a household with at least one of those old beasts - you know the ones; monolithic black boxes that would own a corner of your living room or wherever, heck you may even still own one. Based on a series of conversations (excerpted in the liner notes) discussing the sets’ obsolete status and the schism between tradition and trade, the A-side holds six cranky, skudgy and rhythm-driven creations framed by that familiar, ghostly, whining timbre of the cathode ray tube that would persist behind anything that was playing, or which would become distorted when you had to “tune” your set using baffling arrays of fiddly knobs like some modular boffin, when all you wanted was to watch some garbage without “snow” or streaking lines across the monitor.
However, a few samples of dialogue aside, it’s not a mere exercise in nostalgia; rather Osborne-Lanthier and Lichtenberger find strange, synaesthetic life in these old and somewhat magical analogue machines, working their spectral resonance and crankiness into creaking, contorted and deconstructed patterns that evoke a more contemporary sense of temporal dislocation.
The remixers all seem to relish messing with the material, too; Low Jack offering a screen-scrambling flux of hellish sound-imagery ruffed-up with footwork rhythms and harpy and a Cronenbergian sort of body horror, whilst Gabor Lázár’s patented streaking filaments recall the sound of a set rapidly flicked on and off, marking one of his strongest, layered solo pieces, and Rabit really pushes the envelope with a hyper, tumultuous stunner seemingly emulating an Einstürzende Neubauten live show processed by Autechre.
It’s a killer package, and if you want to grasp it in the flesh, we’d highly recommend going to the Cosmo Rhythmatic label showcase for CTM X Polymorphism this weekend, June 10th @ Berghain, Berlin.