Some of the finest material coming my way at present is appearing from all manner of oblique angles on tiny specialist labels that produce editions of 100-300 copies. This would not only be a measure of the highly specialised nature of the field of electro-acoustic minimalism, but also a welcome return to the D.I.Y. aesthetic engendered during the upsurge of independent activity in the 1980’s. In those days, cassettes were the only available means of economically disseminating marginalised genres, and issues of quality and durability ensured the medium’s demise. In the 21st century, we are poised on the brink of a massive shift in the market place with multiple physical and virtual formats being available to potential small publishers and artists alike.
Out of this overwhelming feast of opportunities, quality control is often dubious, and the potential audience is constantly swamped with choice, and subjected to some of the most appalling crimes and heresies to grace the world of sonic art. It is my personal crusade to ensure that you, dear friends, do not fall foul of some of these heresies.
Swiss based label leerraum [ ] comes as a breath of fresh air to these tired and jaded sensibilities, and I am pleased to announce that “sound contributions” is possibly one of the most elegantly produced and presented works that I have heard from such a small label. Essentially, this is a mix, rendered in 5.1 surround sound, immediately pushing it head and shoulders above the regulation CDR’s that come through my letterbox. Add to that a spare, simple, but delightful packaging aesthetic, and a roster of artists great and good, and you have one beautifully presented release, worthy of much wider circulation. The artists involved are as follows: autobam, bloom, dale lloyd, florian dambois, fm3, freiband, heribert friedl, jason kahn, kenneth kirschner, longmo, luigi archetti, mahmoud refat, pe lang, richard chartier, steinbruchel, strotter inst,wangfan, yuzo kako, and zimoun. Those names that you recognise (or not) have invariably been selected not only for consummate compositional skills, but also for their lightness of touch. And this is a very fine, filigree work, rendered in pale and opaque pastel shades – one of the most sublime and compelling mix works I have ever encountered. It is almost impossible to discern each individual artist’s contribution,(which is why I have name – dropped everybody) as the mix coheres so well, being a precise juxtaposition and fusion of various “small” sounds, and diaphenous ambiences, sometimes we hear half familiar tones or phrases, but nothing that elevates any one artist’s contribution above the others. Tones gently swell and collapse like waves on shifting sands, and glassy fragments and shards move in and out of soft focus, and at 40 pluis minutes, this piece is finishing all-too-soon.
“sound contributions”, mixed and arranged by Zimoun, is one of many releases on the label (that I have only just discovered), and in the melee of small, independent producers of minimalist music in the world at the moment, leerraum [ ] is assured pole position – absolutely essential. BGN