Janek Schaeffer – Extended Play – CD – L-NE



L-NE have chosen a somewhat challenging path to walk, in that it sets out to audibly document installation work that very often encompasses physical and visceral elements that can only best be appreciated within the environment they were designed for. It’s a little like looking at one quarter of a painting, and trying to discern it’s overall meaning and physical presence. I have taken issue with this with other labels, and in most cases would have preferred to have seen or experienced the thing live, or certainly as a DVD document to accompany the recording.

Having experienced some of Schaeffer’s work live, I can testify to his ingenious and often startlingly simple approach, most of his work being based in or around the use or misuse of turntables, and to be around this installation must have been like confronting a Mark Rothko painting for the first time in all its elemental, vital richness.

The cover image certainly confirms this, with a set of turntables iconically set up, bathed in red light, a spiritually incandescent glow around them that visually evokes a stark, sombre, yet highly charged atmosphere even before a sound is encountered. Extended Play sets out to celebrate the spirit of hope and renewal taking as its central theme the wartime “Jodoform” cryptic musical language that was broadcast by the BBC world service, and interpreted by the Polish Underground. Schaeffer, alongside Michael Jennings, developed a score based on Cello, Violin, Piano, Acoustic Ensemble, and the Jodoform, and cut each segment into vinyl. These recordings were then played at alternating speeds that were triggered to stop playing as the audience moved around them. From this breathtakingly simple premise, emerges a deeply evocative set of atmospherics, charged with melancholy, each piece can be heard “winding down” as the audience move around it, then springing back to life, to restore the continuity of the piece, and rejoin the ensemble. This is an inspiring, and poetic recording that celebrates and commemorates the life and energies of Schaeffer’s newly born daughter, and the birth of his mother, born as she was at a significant point of the conflict in Warsaw..Schaeffer poignantly posits the question, “how opposite can two beginnings be?”

Extended Play is a worthy listen in its entirety, and I was struck with the same sensations that I was when visiting the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, that within that deep sense of fear, and almost claustrophobic silence, the strength and triumph of the human spirit can only serve to humble and inspire us all, and resonate through time. A fine piece of work for a fine label..essential. BGN


About whiteline1

WHITE_LINE was set up three years ago, in order to play and promote the work of artists and musicians working under the banner of "minimalism", in all its many guises. This has led to a regular and highly successful mix slot on the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show in the UK, and guest appearances on Resonance FM (frequenzen show). We now aim to extend the remit of the mix slots by reviewing (as often as possible) material that encapsulates and crystallises the minimalist ethic, and hopefully we'll be leading artists and audiences alike towards a deeper appreciation of this and other marginalised genres. I welcome your comments, and criticisms, and would love to hear from labels and artists who would like their work showcased on the show, or reviewed here. We regret that due to time constraints, we cannot review everything that is sent to us, but will endeavour to give exceptional work an "honourable mention" at the very least, and links to quality sites that we think worthy of mentioning. I am trying to support labels and artists as much as possible by promoting their work, not least because I am a stereotypical "struggling artist" myself, but also because there are so few younger artists entering this particular scene, and there is a danger of it becoming the sole domain of a handful of forty somethings who really ought to be doing something better with their time! Having worked for most of the more reputable underground magazines in the early 90's, I was never afforded the luxury of taking time and care over reviews, as deadlines and column space were always hanging like the sword of Damocles over me. With WHITE_LINE, I have the luxury of being able to review when I have time, and I am receptive to a particular mood, and hopefully this will reflect in the quality and length of some of the reviews. If you like what you see, please link to me to encourage more traffic through the site, and cross promote whatever is happening out there. Address for promotional material: 45 Drovers Walk Spring Park, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8BB UK

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