CD – 1 track
1. Live at Revolver
SETTING: It is New Years Eve and I am having dinner at a friends apartment.
PARTICIPANTS: Me, Pete Spynda, Ken Camden, Paul Groper, Ang Gagnon, Christie Gagnon, Portobello Mushrooms, Salad, Water, Vegetable Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookies
STORY: Dinner is about to begin when I suggest that we should put on the new Fennesz CD. I had already told Ken and Pete how much I liked it so it was agreed upon that Fennesz would be our dinner music. I turned the CD on and sat down at the table. I began by pouring myself a glass of water. The music begins with a quiet, rolling, scraping sound, smooth distorted tonal patterns begin to evolve slowly under the rolling. I pass Ang a mushroom and take one for myself. Pete comments on the progression, something to the extent of “I like this, it really pushes forward without really going anywhere.” He passes me the vegetable pie. I can see that Christie is beginning to look anxious. Ken comforts her with his hand on her shoulder. The music continues to grow, raising frequencies and constantly enveloping itself sometimes being interrupted by electronic glitches. Paul comments on the fact that my glass of water is beginning to shake. The progression continues building in intensity. Time begins to slow down for me. I am completely lost in the sound. Pete begins to choke on a piece of vegetable pie when the tones fade into what I will consider to be the meanest gangsta rap beat I have ever heard. This only lasts for a short while as the beat subsides and morphs into a new static tone. Pete gives himself the Hymleck against a chair. He pours himself a glass of water and tries to relax. A small digital rhythmic pattern begins to develop. Ken stands up screaming, “I feel like Darth Vader is serenading at me from the bottom of my fish tank.” Ang gets a look of fear in her eye and tells Ken it is just the music. He settles but is obviously not well. Everyone seems to be getting a bit edgier. Paul begins to twitch. Clicks, pops, and glitches begin to have small conversations between short computer tones slowly dripping together into a digital popcorn. We are all looking for a pattern here. I begin to talk about my love for early video game sound while eating a cookie, suddenly I spit the cookie out as the greatest wall of distorted sound this side of Merzbow takes over. No one can eat. No one can speak. We are all in the midst of the wild harsh drones. We are no longer in the apartment. We have entered into a laptop computer consciousness. I feel like my nose will bleed soon. Finally the distortion fades into a beautiful wave of slow morphing tones, “sound”, and mild skipping interruptions. A sense of structure begins and dinner continues. Pete says something about the simple rhythmic complexities being static like rain after thoughts. It is obvious to me at this point that this music has made us all insane. We continue to eat slowly and the music continues to morph into itself creating a tonal symphony between distortions, low end hums, scratches, and pops. Dinner is silent as the music fades. Only sixteen minutes and thirty three seconds had past but we were all different by then. Ken was convinced that his metabolism had changed. Pete just wanted to listen to Folke Rabe. Ang decided to go to sleep but complained of machine-like bugs tearing at her feet in her dreams. Christie tried to wash dishes but dropped three of them on the floor. I drove home and wrecked into a fire hydrant. When I awoke in the hospital the doctor told me that the tumor I had been diagnosed with the week before had miraculously disappeared. Thank you Fennesz!!
RESULTS: Don’t just worship Fennesz because he is from Austria. Worship him because this record is incredible
The Wire (UK):
More engaging by far is the Fennesz CD-R, recorded live in Melbourne during the same [Mego] tour. Only 16 minutes long, the improvisation springs from a rustling, low pitched loop and a curiously churchy fuzz organ. Fennesz’s minor-key play is quite affecting, setting up a fragile melodic fragment that is eventually swallowed up by swarms of hiss and buzz. In its second phase the piece is taken over by a roaring, guitar-derived blast of sound that is counterposed by clicks and whistles. Then a shimmering chord rises to the centre of the piece. Fennesz likes notes – his pieces pit expressive chords and tones against the coarse and thrilling evasiveness of noise. Deliciously softcore. [Will Montgomery]
Other Music (USA):
Perhaps one of the pitfalls of laptop-performance-oriented music is that the artists tend to corner themselves either into undirected improvisation or bland repetition. In this, his first solo live CD, Christian Fennesz overcomes and completely avoids these issues to create one of the most powerfully intense live sets with the same tools. His piece evolves and changes rapidly, yet remains completely cohesive and focused. The sound itself is pure and undiluted; textures wash over each other, lush and beautiful melodies rise up to the foreground, or fall back, just underneath the waves. Much attention is paid to dynamics, from quietly sparse textures to passionate swirling walls of sound. It’s neither too short nor too long: therefore time doesn’t exist, just the sound itself. Clocking in at just under 17 minutes, this live performance has more focus, depth and direction than others twice its length. The two minutes in RealAudio above are among the best two minutes I’ve had all year. [JZ]
This is the third in Touch’s series of live recordings, following Philip Jeck in Tokyo and SETI in Brussels. Recorded at the Revolver Club in Melbourne on the Mego tour of Australia, it follows Fenneszs critically acclaimed Plus Forty Seven Degrees 5637 Minus Sixteen Degrees 5108 album (also on Touch). The CD itself is 16:33 long and amounts to a snapshot of the Fennesz live experience. Taking a range of electronically generated buzzes, tones, blips and clicks; he turns them into a work of art. His music shifts and evolves as you listen; tones and pitches change and new sounds are introduced. The intensity and sound level slowly increase before dying out again, only to reconstruct itself again. Electronic tones crackle and fizz as guitar feedback whistles over them. Never static or showing any sign of a programmed loop, Fennesz’s music twists, turns and evolves before you. Amazing. Totally engaging beautiful music that provides an insight into the intensity of Fennesz’s work in the live arena. A thoroughly excellent CD that is well worth investigating further, especially if you enjoy the work of Biosphere, Hazard and alike. [Paul Lloyd 12 October 2000]
Francois Couture (AMG):
This EP was recorded live at the Revolver in Melbourne, Australia, on February 3, 2000. Although it bears a CD-R catalog number and is packaged like Touch’s CD-R line, it is not a CD-R but a limited pressing of 1,000 copies. Christian Fennesz has quickly become a major figure on the free improv electronics scene, and here he shows what his live magic is all about. The piece is made of white noise, analog electronics, some digital real-time editing, and (maybe?) electric guitar. Fennesz’ approach here is rather minimal. He eludes the standard built-up format and keeps the music delicate and low-profile for the first half, before it suddenly explodes at eight-and-a-half minutes into the track, creating a wake-up call effect. A few minutes later, the piece quiets down into a polluted new age mood. Impressive.
At a guess ‘Live at Revolver’ was recorded at this year’s ‘What is Music’ festival and amounts to a snap-shot (at just over 16 minutes) of a single performance by Christian Fennesz, one of the laptop participants. Fennesz is known to source many of his sounds from guitar, recording straight to hard-disc, and although he often gives free rein to the the laptop’s facility as a noise-generator he tempers his sound with ghostly melodies in which fragmentary guitar chords are often discernible just below the surface. By the time we join this performance the kindling sticks are crackling. Fennesz improvises a stunted melody for some minutes in which he stops and unstops organ-like notes in a somewhat random fashion, managing to make his presence without exactly blowing the barn doors away. At a point about half-way through this recording, however, after his earlier activities have fizzled out in a mild gust of radio interference, Fennesz chooses to drop a quite stunning slab of guitar-viscera into the left channel. One can imagine the bar sitters grabbing for their earplugs, hairs standing up on the backs of necks, as one onslaught follows another of quite delicious melodic noise. The storm subsides and Fennesz finally bears his listeners aloft on a turbulent carpet ride of uplifting chords and ionic interference. I wouldn’t exactly describe this as an essential piece of Fennesz (for that look to his 3″ CD on Tanz*Hotel ‘Il Libro Mio’ in particular, or his earlier full-length on Touch) but then, it doesn’t exactly present itself as being that either: it comes in a plain white card sleeve bearing a CDR catalog number and monochrome artwork which shadows that of his earlier Touch CD. For such humility this CD rather recommends itself. [GM]
remote induction (web):
This live recording from Christian Fennesz starts with a crackling layer. This has a vibrating feel as it loops, buzz and whirr being added slowly to provide a certain melodic suggestion. Mild tumbling sounds and strong string can be heard within the sighing flow. These elements go through moments of intensification – the background layer streaming in a tinny fashion, before stepping up a notch. The initial rumbles become more a ridge, a wave that rises and falls. Then everything falls down to a sigh of notes and barest crackle. From which we have a mild build, followed by a more pronounced level of detuned signal. The form of crackle and buzz becomes a translation of data, accelerating with each punch card processed. The buzz almost grinds as this builds into a bubbling whole – layers amassing with the momentum. Stripping down to a tight crackling oscillation, the frequency then falling and threatening to collapse. Though before it does a smooth tone comes up and we have a more melodic micro section – punctuated by high blips. Shifting again this takes on a more pulsing feel while retaining consistent elements. Then its over, being the third in Touch’s series of live recordings, consisting of 1 track just over 16 minutes long.
Clocking in at a nadge over quarter of an hour long, Live At Revolver, Melbourne makes up for its shortness with some intensity instead. The whines and drones of clickety-snickety underpinnings meet tones at fifty paces then closing to quarters more uncomfortable. These things should sometimes be kept at arms length, but bringing the sound of what resembles a wardrobe being manhandled into a coal cellar this close to the ears can be enjoyable up to a point. That point is probably about right at the length presented here. Hypnosis is acheived, interventions made and proposed, the texture of hiss and decay propounded on the bones of rhythm and melody just about gets remembered like a distant cousin. There are guitars resident in the cloacum of rendered acoustic transformation, but they don’t stand a chance against the forces of sputter and disc-error scrum which evolves into purgative electronic outburts; which is as it should be on such occasions. One of the key lessons of this unrestrained noise-chunder format is knowing when enough is enough for the audience or listener if not the performer; so easy to misjudge, to collapse into the delights of letting freeform spats of the kind of noise your grandmother wouldn’t like unless she happened to be Alice Coltrane fly free. Even if it was time restraints which brought about the limit to this performance, such are the benefits of restriction. As the downward coast in territories of less opprobrious earache engenderment suggest closure, it is to Christian Fennesz’ considerable credit that it’s with a flitter of fond farewell rather than endurance that the CD concludes. [Antron S. Meister]
Chain D.L.K. (USA):
One track, 16 minutes, 3rd live album for Touch (after Philip Jeck’s Tokyo performance and S.E.T.I.’s Brussels concert) and 2nd release by Fennesz (after his acclaimed “Plus Forty Seven Degrees 56’37” Minus Sixteen Dregrees 51’08”. Recorded live on the Mego tour (at the What is Music Festival) in Melbourne, Australia, Mr. Christian ‘anti festival-sponsors’ Fennesz live sessions aren’t obviously a recreation of the unique sounds of his debut (it would be quite difficult to create sounds of his garden – where he recorded the foresaid debut album – on the stage). Subtle noises feeding loud amplifiers, cutting edge know tweaking and softer crystal layers… all together… I can’t picture a concert like this without an extraordinary Orb-like light show… who knows… [Marc Urselli-Schþrer]
I finally got the fennesz _03.02.00 live at revolver, melbourne_ cd (touch to:cdr3, but it’s not a cdr), and if you’re interested, I would recommend picking this up before the collaboration with rosy parlane. that’s good, but this is great – almost a 17-minute summation of what our boy christian is all about, with guitar mulched via expensive, 3733t h4x0r warez made by old french guys Ð from the harshest sub-melody to the most candy-sweet noise, it is incredibly expressive/impressive and should be a model for guys with laptops and efficient euro haircuts everywhere. I like fennesz when he collaborates with others, but I love him when he works alone, excepting that last cd on touch, the longitude/latitude one. which I might actually buy again.