Boomkat Product Review:
A weirdo classical music mixtape from Andy Votel for DDS? Yasss pls. A longtime spar and ally of Demdike Stare who was also responsible for their iconic early album covers, ‘Etudes Du Metal Ortolan’ is (surprisingly) Votel’s first dedicated mixtape for their DDS label, a kaleidoscopic all-vinyl collage of raw/experimental music by composers working within the wide “classical music” idiom, primarily from the Czech Republic, France, Canada and Germany. Using crude FX boxes and pedals to bend layered operatic voices and frangible instrumentation to his will, it runs like an hour-long original composition, one we're gonna be picking the scraps off for a while.
Anyone following Votel's exploits over the years should already know there's precious few heads who share his deep knowledge and insatiable appetite for the outlandish and eccentric hidden histories of music at the margins - just take a peek at the Finders Keepers catalogue for proof of that. Let Votel loose on a theme, however, and you're in for something properly exhilarating. 'Etudes Du Metal Ortolan' is an hour long collage piece that's as deep and screwy as it is expertly researched and curated. His selections - from the depths of pre-concrète experimental classical music, thru ballet, opera and the avant garde - are a musical beachcomber's fantasy, here manipulated so fluidly that it's fiendishly difficult to ID much, if anything, you’re listening to.
It doesn't matter if you're well versed in Czech or German neue musik or not, the relentless tapestry of squealing horns, piano loops, shortwave radio and soaring, soprano voices are spliced with processed dialog fragments and textured sounds, swathed in the kind of bruit you'd expect to pull from the musty back-of-the-box. Votel uses techniques that never fall completely within the parameters of the eras he magpies from, at times reminding us of Philip Jeck as he lets static flutter and loop into rhythms, while orchestral blasts form dense, blood-curdling drones. It’s quite the trip.
“This inaugural collage, in a potential expansive series, is Indiscriminate and irreverent in equal measures, an hour long cacophonic exploration combining awe inspiring melodic compositions with a wide range of traditional instruments and the human voice alongside the same characteristics that would later exist in the likes of musique concrète, whilst retaining a strong compelling narrative albeit plunderous in its mostly spontaneous execution.”
Andy Votel, 2023.