Boomkat Product Review:
Remko Scha’s stunning recordings of machine-played microtonal guitar strikes are barely known beyond collectors and those in the know, but this remastered reissue on Superior Viaduct’s États-Unis series places it in a much deserved spotlight for fans of everything from Factory Floor to Konrad Sprenger and Ellen Fullman.
This first vinyl reissue of the 37 year old masterpiece is the definitive example of systems-based music realised by Dutch linguist and generative artist Remko Scha. It was recorded mostly at Scha’s famed arts space Het Apollohuis - “a haven for intellectuals and underground autodidacts” - in Eindhoven Holland and at Columbia University, New York between 1980-82, and can be heard in the same class of explorative, extended guitar techniques as Rhys Chatham or Glenn Branca, effectively working in parallel to No wave as much as the minimalist avant garde of the early ‘80s.
From the rapid microtonal fluctuations of Shake to the plangent shimmer of Brush, Scha wrests a remarkable spectrum of sounds from the guitar without touching it even once. A reciprocating “sabre saw” attached with ropes, flexible metal rods or rotating metal brushes does all the work, resulting a music without that pesky human interference that always allows for some level of sentimentality. In this perceptive gap between the sound and its source, we’re invited to simply revel in its tonal precision and elegant tirelessness, as it effectively acknowledges the redundancy of human efforts in achieving this kind of “perfection”.
It's an ingenious example of the strange pleasure we take in listening to impossibilities made tangible and beguilingly real thru machinery. A super uncanny and captivating record.