Boomkat Product Review:
Janek Schaefer's illustrious career as a sound artist, turntablist and composer has seen various standout moments over the years, from his postal travelogue 7", Recorded Delivery, on the Hot Air imprint to his collaboration with Stephan Mathieu, Hidden Name.
Extended Play ranks alongside Schaefer's very finest works, and one of his most overtly musical, in the traditional sense. Originally conceived as an installation, Extended Play consists of piano, violin and cello each playing a predetermined score, recorded separately, edited and then cut onto vinyl. The three instruments each had three vinyl EPs cut which were then played back at 33rpm, 45rpm and 78rpm, continuously repeating and pausing briefly according to the traffic of gallery visitors.
It all sounds a bit convoluted, but this album makes sense of it all, dividing the work into three individual instrumental studies, plus one 'ensemble' recording of the finished installation, which is breathtakingly beautiful, and remarkably composed sounding given the slightly aleatory aspect of all its variables coming together over its twenty-four minute duration. The final piece on the album makes the most explicit reference to the concept that drives Extended Play, tapping into wartime musical codes: the appearance of a scratchy old Polish song during the closing track serves as an example of how the English secret services would furtively communicate messages with the occupied Poles, via song lyrics.
Schaefer completes the image with a double exposure of sorts, playing BBC broadcasts over the top of the song, bringing a truly memorable album to a close. Seldom has sound art sounded as enjoyable as this.