CD – 13 tracks
1. Good Man
2. Instrument 1
3. Instrument 2
4. Instrument 3
5. Instrument 4
6. Betrieb (Remix)
The New York Times (USA):
Fennesz is an Austrian producer and guitarist who makes sublime, stately compositions out of hovering melodies and white noise. This disc gathers rare and unreleased music from the last seven years; there’s plenty of variety here, but the mood of blissful tranquillity remains, even when Fennesz is manipulating jagged shards of sound. “Menthol” juxtaposes a deep, glimmering drone with little eruptions of static on the surface. And on “Codeine,” the disc’s final track, the sonic cobwebs part slightly, and you can make out the soothing sound of a guitar being strummed. [Kelefa Sanneh]
The Sound Projector (UK):
A very useful and desirable comp of diverse cuts by the Fennery fellow, some of which are hard to come by – covering a five year period (astonishing to think he’s been around that long, eh?) this includes the Instrument EP in its totality, plus Christian’s contributions to other compilations, film soundtracks, along with remixes and what are laughingly called ‘special projects’, plus an unreleased cut from the vaults called ‘Good Man’. This is a long-overdue goodie and a real treat for fans. Despite the title of course there are no ‘field recordings’ by way of environmental documents made in the middle of a countryside meadow, but the conceit reminds us that although all flesh is as grass, Fennesz’s work has not aged and still comes up smelling as fresh as a bale of new-mown hay. Jon Wozencroft’s cover images of a tractor, wooden fence and field of crops does nothing to contradict this notion. After the exceptionally powerful opener ‘Good Man’, we have all four tracks from Instrument, a belter of a disc which I think was Fennesz’s first record and one of the earliest MEGO 12″ releases. Wow. It exhibits CF’s sharp genius right upfront – everything we have since associated with him seems to have been in place from the start. Here it is in the raw, wild buzzsaw drones and crazy distorted guitar noise – only back then he used a fairly conventional drum track, an element which has since been ditched in favour of his far more unrestrained approach, free-flowing fields of arrhythmic free noise.
Well, so much for the first five cuts. The rest of the comp can seem a bit disparate and throwaway after that strong opening. ‘Betrieb’ is a remix version by Ekkehard Ehlers for a Mille Plateaux release of that name, and Ehlers performs a small miracle by softening the overall range of frequencies and making Fennesz sound positively romantic. Maybe not a major miracle; there’s always been this altruistic side to CF (the nice guy out of the meanie Mego gang) and Ehlers somehow cultivates it electronically. Both ‘Stairs’ and ‘Odessa’ are soundtracks plucked from a movie called Blue Moon, the former a short episode with a glutinous, cloying atmosphere, the latter a subterranean exploration suggesting pearl divers in the ocean. ‘Codeine’ finds acoustic guitar joining the laptoppery confections – very pleasing effect indeed – mingling with that powerful distressed surface which CF has made all his own, like musical notes being blown away in a strong wind. ‘Ivend00′ is punchier, with a controlled explosion of nasty static splinters and other micro-blip events, all combined in the mosaic style, instead of with the usual broad well-charged electronic paintbrush.
For some reason this is one of the strongest Fennesz sets ever released – maybe he works best with short, single tracks, where he can pour everything he’s got into one intense burst of layered energy. Live recordings, and the much vaunted Endless Summer are great things in their way, but even they can seem slightly dissipated and washed-out in comparison to this. Hear Fennesz at his muscular best on Field Recordings! [Ed Pinsent]
City Pages (USA):
Call it the Prince-Alone-in-His-Studio Syndrome: Electronic musicians, when confronted with a panel of shiny knobs, tend to spend more time twiddling with them than using them to actually express something. Sure, it takes a clever studio engineer to wire a mixer together so that it amplifies its own feedback into a bevy of screeches and hums. But, as Toshimaru Nakamura proved with his classic No-Input Mixing Board, it takes a true artist to sculpt said screeches into a gorgeous wash of primordial pulsations. Which explains why Austrian laptop mangler Christian Fennesz is such a precious commodity. Though his basic songwriting method (upsetting pop structures with woozy computer processing) has remained essentially unchanged over the course of three albums and countless collaborations, his music’s emotional returns continue to build, culminating in the stunning melancholia of last year’s Endless Summer and the surprisingly adroit tonal studies of his recent FatCat 12-inch. On his newest CD, which collects his earliest songs alongside later film scores and compilation contributions, Fennesz assembles a portrait of the artist as a young man that’s also a blistering work of art in itself. Anyone who came to Fennesz’s music through the Beach Boys-refracted lens of his Endless Summer is in for a surprise. In place of that album’s meticulously fractured xylophones and synthesizers is a refreshingly epic take on My Bloody Valentine’s wall-of-sound blast-off. The four songs collected here from Fennesz’s long out-of-print 1995 EP Instrument layer dense, almost industrial guitars over hectic drumbeats, all to dizzying effect. But fans of Fennesz’s later work can rest assured: The more recent selections from Field Recordings veer from glitched-out academic pop to minimal sound design to the almost bombastic film score for Andrea Maria Dusl’s fairytale love story Blue Moon. Within these tracks is the blueprint for Fennesz’s fragile, blunted lyricism. For instance, “Good Man,” an unreleased song of unspecified age, is like a collision between academic sound design and tremulous pop. With a bed of soft pops and fizzes that gradually give way to waves of processed synthesizer and hissing guitars, the song shows its Iannis Xenakis-inspired experimentalism. And yet it still has an emotional tenor that could bring lesser men – like me – to tears.
Ah, Fennesz. Mag ich sehr gern. Schön, dass der wieder mal was von sich hören lässt. “Field Recordings 1995:2002″ also. Mhm. Feines Cover-Artwork von Jon Wozencroft. Compilation, so wie’s aussieht. Outtakes, Raritäten, die vergriffene “Instrument”-EP, Stücke von dem Film “Blue Moon”, na ja, mal anhören. Mhm, ja, sehr fein. Gewohnte Kost, nix wirklich Neues. Aber was er macht, das kann er halt, der Chris, na ich werd’ mal die obligaten 7.5 Punkte vergeben und ein paar Zeil… Moment! Was war DAS? Muss mal lauter drehen. Der letzte Track. ’Codeine’. Noch mal. Das ist ja… unglaublich. Unbeschreiblich. Großartig. Und noch mal. Ich muss mich hinlegen. Die Augen schließen. Genießen. Diese wunderbaren Akkordwechsel auf der Akustikgitarre, die so schwerelos zwischen den Nebelfetzen aus dem Powerbook driften, ruhig, entspannt und mit unendlich viel Raum, um sich auszubreiten. Wahnsinn. Ein tiefer, dunkelblauer Bergsee, inmitten einer hellgrünen Wiese über der sich die Morgennebel lichten. Sieben Minuten, die endlos so weitergehen könnten. Ein unbeschreiblich schönes Stück Musik. Wahrscheinlich das beste, das Fennesz je aufgenommen hat. Die akustische und die elektronische Kontinentalplatte driften aufeinander zu. Kollidieren. In dem Gebirge, das sich an der Bruchstelle aufzutürmen beginnt, ganz am Gipfel, sitzt im kalten, klaren Nachthimmel Christian Fennesz und hat Gitarre und Powerbook auf seinem Schoß. Der nächste Frühling kommt doch bestimmt, oder? [Tobias Bolt] 10.0 Punkte
As the title suggests ‘Field Recordings 1995-2002’ is a compliation of works from the austrian wunderkid Christian Fennesz and in a similar way to Hrvatski’s ‘Swarm and Dither’ it succeeds by digging deep to bring you tracks of serious quality and unbelieavble rarity. Kicking of with the previously unissued ‘Good Man’. A full on sonic blast which manages not to mangle the senses but rather envelop you in blue warmth and hidden melodic rushes. Then for the first time on CD media is Mego 004, Christian’s ‘Instrument’ 12″ from 1995 in it’s full glory. Four parts from ‘Instrument 1-4’, ‘1’ gives a injection of muffled techno amongst the forward drones and clipped guitar feedback noises. ‘2’ adopts intense feedback before the calm is brought. ‘3’ chops the intensity up while micro beats dance to a motorik jungle tempo. ‘4’ adopts Phillip Jeck traits, crackle loops driven by a hardrive rather than a belt driven Dansette motor. Incredibly moving and haunting. Other tracks come from his appearances on Mille Plateaux, Ash International, Keith Hrvatski’s RKK label and Orthlorng Musork via his incredible rework of Stephan Mathieu & Ekkehard Ehkers’ ‘Heroin’. Twelve tracks from a modern day master. Incredible.
Christian Fennesz’s music is a lesson in human-computer interaction. Playing acousticmusic through digital filters and processors, and getting it to sound emotional and rich, is something many laptoppers have tried to accomplish with very little remarkable success. When Fennesz dropped Endless Summer on Mego in 2001, an alarming buzz surrounded his name. The soulful cyborg digitally crooned his way through a miniature binary symphony, Pet Sounds fore the Y2K. Since Endless Summer, Fennesz has been collaborating with some of the finest metalmen around, with little new solo material. Enter Field Recordings 1995:2002, a hulking slab of Fennesz history in the form of tracks distilled down to a lucky thirteen, including “Instrument,” his debut twelve-inch for Mego, remixes for Ekkehard Ehlers and Stephan Mathieu, some soundtracks, compilation fodder like “Menthol,” from Clicks & Cuts 2, Mille Plateaux’s magnum glitch opus. By far the most inspirational material comes from the four parts of “Instrument.” Densely layered and richly textured, we see Fennesz all over the canvas: dance beats, noise loops, acoustics and electronics in every hue and flavor, freely flying from the hands of the young visionary. In 21 minutes, Fennesz destroys these ‘fields’ with diamond-sharp audio bling, loosing captor and victim at the same time to startling ends. On “Betrieb” and “Codeine,” Fennesz is at his electroacoustic best, collaging the already-collaged tracks of Ellers [sic] and Mathieu. The balance of the recordings are fact-finding missions about the power and presenhce of noise. The findings? Droning static, clipped squelch rhythms, bursts of dub bass and upside-down melodies. Collections like this tend to be solipsistic and lopsided, but Field Recordings avoids both, mostly because every single track is torn directly from the reified flesh of the mutant computermensch himself, and he only has beauty to share. [Michael Bernstein]
“Field Recordings” brings together a range of material Christian Fennesz has contributed to compilations, special projects and film soundtracks (for the movie “Blue Moon”) between the years 1995 and 2002. Also, for the first time on CD, it includes his debut 12′ for Mego, the awesome “Instrument”, remastered, and a new track recorded specially for this release, “Good Man”. This is his first release since “Invisible Architecture 02”, together with Mika Vainio) and a prelude to his next studio album, which will be released on Touch in January 2003. After “Hotel Paral.lel” (Mego), “Plus 47 degrees…” (Touch) and “Endless summer” (Mego), Fennesz is mentioned in a lot in reviews as a reference. This album makes clear why. A rich variety of styles has been presented here. Every track is progressive, well-balanced and beautiful mastered. The uptempo, almost danceable “Instrument 1”, the more industrial and repetitive “Instrument 2”, “Betrieb”, a beautiful sensitive floating remix from a song by Ekkehard Ehlers and the Click & Cuts track “Menthol” with lots of reworked digital sounds and crisp fragments are just a few examples presented on one of the best albums released lately…
Austrian Christian Fennesz has become someone to reckon with on the international processed-sound scene, his rise parallelling that of the label, Mego, with which he is most associated. He is good because his work still sounds like music while being challenging, gritty and abstract. He began as a guitarist, and most of the pieces here still sound like guitar playing, though with many extra layers of distortion and repetition. Hear this and most rock music instantly becomes pointless. [Andi Chapple]
Fennesz’s computer-processed guitar music is like listening to The Stooges or Velvet Underground with the words, tunes and rhythm track removed. Which seems perverse unless you remember it’s the sound of that music – the fuzz, feedback, roar and drone – that makes it so exciting, not just Iggy’s ereliner or Lou Reed’s barbed observations. Some of the earlier tracks here are rooted in techno, but by the time you get to ‘Codeine’ – a cunningly titled remix of Stephan Mathieu & Ekkehard Ehlers’ ‘Heroin’ – you realise this is the future of rock ‘n’ roll. [Tom Mugridge] – (There is also a photo and interview in the Dec 2002 edition)
Other Music (USA):
While so many indie bands have been toiling endlessly to follow up My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” LP and fail, Fennesz manages to do it seemingly by accident. Unlike other Fennesz releases, “Field Recordings” has a grittiness that allows us to actually seem to hear the hand stroke upon the guitar strings, but still ends up being totally inhuman. Wave upon wave build, break down and surge beyond expectation repeatedly. A one man Glenn Branca orchestra (see track three: “Instrument 3”). Chords and notes fall through the cloud wall in unnatural yet beautiful patterns. Remember at the end of MBV’s set when Kevin Shields planted his guitar upright in the middle of the stage while it fed back an unbelievable, countless amount of hypnotic sound waves through the audience? This album is full of moments like that except it’s way more sculpted. “Guitar bands” take heed — better than Van Halen. Necessary music. [SM] (“Field Recordings” collects material created between 1995 and 2002 for compilations, soundtracks and special projects. Included is “Instrument,” Fennesz’s first 12″ for Mego, plus a brand new track.)
overheard by tobias c. van Veen
dear Christian Fennesz, (a love letter):
letters of tenderness to your particle caresses, to your subconscious synaesthesia that runs fingers down my spine. I realised I could only write you a love letter when, after licking my words, and readying those wounds (love bites from that fateful night I took you on the subway!), I could not come without your consent. You held me ready, and in waiting, your throbbing sound coursing through my body… Because here, you play your Instrument (remember that long lost night on the Rhine? when we sung in Italian to a wall of water?). Yes, that ancient-1995!-Mego 004 12″, so desperately desired by so many, you have finally given it over, percussive swellings, staccato over your moaning guitar, processed through erotic warmth of laptop circuitry… it was just a breath of what was to come, wasn’t it?
dear Fennesz, it’s all about feeling. About feeling you and you feeling me. About sound playing a layering of so many parts, so many melodies in that noise, deep in rubbing textures, that the sonic itself thins itself out into feedback, hitting the repetition that draws blood from skin. Here, and like Nietzsche told me late one night through the whispers of Derrida, my whole body becomes an ear.
I think I’ve heard you, Fennesz. But I still don’t understand you. That picture I keep of you on the mantlepiece, with your sunglasses and open white shirt, that night after we painted the tones in multicolours and your acidic smile turned sour-you’re dangerous, Fennesz, and I love you for it. Even when the ocean rears its ugly hydra-head behind your back, even then your lovely fingers will keep plucking. “Fennesz is a composer of electronic music for electric guitar,” I read in the Saturday morning papers. But you’re so much more than that. You’re mysterious. And they got it all wrong, anyways (they always do). They said that everything prior to Endless Summer was just philosophical treatises, and that Endless Summer was the poetic exploration…but it’s really just the opposite, isn’t it? Philosophy, philo sophia, has always been about love. With Endless Summer you just had to spell it out a bit more clearly for those still not getting it-that love can also involve being a little tied up.
I dreamt about us swimming in that processed ocean of echoes and feedback chambers, of sound so thick and warm that you could breath it in. And we do breath it in, don’t we? Sound is air-waves, afterall, and with your compressed carbon copy close to my mouth I suck in all you have to offer. It’s all there in the “Surf,” when the delay closes in, like when you tumble in the white and get pounded down into the wash, body broken and huddled in the foreign water and then, propelled up and out, towards air, breathing the roaring of the ocean: you’re alive I am alive you yell…and out for the next wave “rock” “electronic” – such silly terms, aren’t they, as I hold you close-as we all do, out here, grabbing your sonic body and ripping it to shreds, carne vale, throwing of the flesh . I’m sorry, Fennesz, that it had to come out this way. And you are too, at the end, when you left for Stephen and Ehlers to make beautiful Musork. But we’ll always have our memories of those days spent ‘in the field,’ those wonderful recordings from the hotel, and that unforgettable summer lost in the surf…
About 20 years ago, the CD arrived. I never thought that so many of the obscurities of my vinyl collection would be on CD. Since I move houses too often, I am so delighted to get rid of my vinyl and replace them by CDs. So a collection of Fennesz is most welcome, even when one can get rid of one piece of vinyl after that… This collection has the famous ‘Instrument’ 12″ – the first statement of Fennesz as a guitarist working with samplers and computers (after his initial career as a rock guitarist) and what a great relaunch of a career. Besides this we find a whole bunch of compilation tracks that might be hard to get or which are deleted (and in a most curious case, also one that will be released next year, his remix for Mathieu/Ehlers ‘Heroin’ project). It’s interesting to see Fennesz work evolve over the years. ‘Instrument’ is still a fairly ‘normal’ piece of music, with rhythm machines and gliding drones. Compare that with ‘Odessa’ or ‘Codeine’ – pulsating drones in which electronics celebrate (with a guitar strum never far away). But in all it’s aspects, Fennesz slightly fuzzy electronic sound, which is warm most of the time, the musical element is never far away. He never drowns in letting the plug ins wander freely, but limits himself to composing a small, yet definte composition. A rare quality not often seen among the glitchtoppers. Fennesz is still the best! [FdW]
Kicking off with the previous unreleased track “Good Man”, Christian treats us to a taste of what’s to come: warm, earthy textures in the digital whirrs and purrs, handled with his usual careful composition. This is followed by the four pieces from the out-of-print “Instrument” 12″, released by MEGO in 1995. Created using guitar-based sounds, these early tracks are marked by unusual juxtapositions of mood-switching from swift, controlled grittiness to bassy, dreamy, brittle washes. Among the tracks culled from various other compilations is “Menthol” from Mille Plateaux’s ‘Clicks and Cuts Vol. 2’, which is slightly uninspiring, standand glitchy fare. This, however, is the only low point on ‘Field Recordings’. Other standouts include “Surf” from the Ash International compilation ‘Decay’ with its epic walls of sound and Fennesz’s remix of a Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers track from their collaboration ‘Heroin’. Those hungry for a follow-up to Fennesz’s acclaimed 2001 album ‘Endless Summer’ will have to wait a bit longer, but in the mean time, this compilation serves as an excellent appetizer. [Jessica Tibbits]
Op een korte termijn brak het laptop en -gitaarwerk van de Oostenrijker Christian Fennesz bij een groter publiek door. Zijn output centert zich rond de labels Mego en Touch. Het Britse Touch heeft de naam reflectief en ‘serieus’ met hun artiesten en uitgaven om te gaan en het bundelen van Fennesz’ moeilijker te vinden materiaal ligt dan ook in die lijn. ‘Field Recordings 1995-2002’ is geen verzameling van veldopnames die Fennesz nog in de kast had liggen, maar een compilatie van werk dat eerder op andere bloemlezingen verscheen, remixes (voor ondermeer Stephan Mathieu en Ekkehard Ehlers) en composities voor (kort)films. Het werk steekt van wal met de eerste uitgave die de dertiger bij Mego in 1995 bracht: de uitverkochte single ‘Instrument’. De vier versies werden aangelengd met ‘Good Man’, een werk dat Fennesz recentelijk met de geluidsbronnen van ‘Instrument’ componeerde. Hoewel de Oostenrijker over de laatste zeven jaar voornamelijk in de diepte evolueerde, valt het op dat hij vroeger meer naar ritme en repetitie zocht: ‘Instrument 1 & 3’ bevatten een uitgevaagde breakbeat en verwijzen naar de destijds boomende drum ‘n’ bassesthetiek. De overige tracks gaan volledig horizontaal en schilderen – zoals gebruikelijk – traag evoluerende kleurlandschappen waar bijtijds een melancholische kilte doorwaait. In januari 2003 verschijnt bij Touch een nieuwe soloplaat van Fennesz, ondertussen is hij ook vertegenwoordigd op de compilatie ‘Star Switch On’. Daarop zijn veldopnames van de Britse geluidsman Chris Watson door een keur van populaire geluidskunstenaars onder wie Mika Vainio, Philip Jeck, Hazard en Biosphere onder handen genomen (de originelen werder eerder bij Touch als de albums ‘Stepping into the Dark’ en ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ uitgebracht). Fennesz levert een nogal statische bijdrage: op enkele loops na lijken Watsons registraties van dierengeluiden nauwelijks behandelt. Wel erg intens is het werk van Vainio en dat van Jeck: met respectievelijk elektronica en vinylmanipulatie tillen ze het griezelige basismateriaal naar het niveau van driedimensionale, beklemmende en fascinerende luistertrip. [Ive Stevenheydens]
Quite rapidly the work (guitar and laptop) of Fennesz reached a larger audience. His work is brought out via the labels Mego and Touch. The British label Touch is famous for dealing reflectively and seriously with both artists and their releases. Bringing together Fennesz harder to find work on one CD seems a logical step. ‘Field Recordings 1995-2002’ is not a collection of field recordings, but a compilation of earlier recorded tracks, of remixes (for Stephan Mathieu en Ekkehard Ehlers) and compositions for (short) movies. The CD starts with an edition of the now sold out single ‘Instrument’ that was brought out on Mego in 1995. The four versions were followed by ‘Good man’, a work that Fennesz made recently with the sound sources he used for ‘Instrument’. Although the Austrian evolved the last seven years more into depth, it is striking that he sought more for rythm and repitition in his early years: ‘Instrument 1 & 3’ contain a phased-out breakbeat and refers to the formerly booming drum ‘n’ bass aesthetics. The remaining tracks are fully horizontal and they paint – as usual – slowly evolving coloured landscapes with a sometimes chilling melancholy. In january 2003 Touch will bring out a new Fennesz solo CD. Meanwhile Fennesz is also present on the compilation ‘Star Switch On’. This CD contains the field recordings of Chris Watson interpreted by popular sound-artists such as Mika Vainio, Philip Jeck, Hazard and Biosphere (the original versions were earlier released on Touch as the albums ‘Stepping into the Dark’ and ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’). Fennesz’ contribution is rather static: apart from a few loops he seems not to have treated Watsons’ field recordings. Very intense however are the contributions of Vainio and Jeck: with respectively electronica and vinyl manipulation they manage to lift up the spooky original material towards a three dimensional, haunting and fascinating listening trip.]
Not field recordings per se, rather an attempt to cast the spotlight onto some of Fennesz’ other, perhaps less well known, activities – particularly his remixes – and cast a backwards glance over several notable contributions to compilations that might otherwise have slipped beneath the radar. The reproduction of his critically acclaimed ‘Instrument’ EP (originally released on 12″ vinyl on Mego in 1995) is reason alone to own this compilation. As if that weren’t enough, Touch have generously drawn together a host of remixes and contributions to a number of compilations making ‘Field Recordings’ an indispensable release. ‘Menthol’, from ‘Clicks & Cuts Vol. 2’, shimmers and throbs in true Fennesz fashion – heat haze electronics, scattered tonal fragments suspended in molten glass. ‘Betrieb’, remixed from Ekkehard Ehlers’ album of the same name, is four minutes of swirling chords, distended and set atop low end buzz. ‘Surf’, from Ash International’s 1997 compilation ‘Decay’, a shuddering cascade of multi-timbral hiss unwinding slowly but surely… Fennesz’ restrained electronics are the digital equivalences of Morton Feldman’s gently-unfolding aural soundscapes or Mark Rothko’s captivating canvasses. He resists the urge to over-produce, building careful compositions which are beautifully understated. His light touch, nuanced ebbs and flows, and distinctive voice unquestionably seductive. Closing with ‘Codeine’, his contribution to the remix/version album accompanying Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers’ ‘Heroin’ re-release on Orthlorng Musork, is perfect. Musical narcotic you’d willingly become addicted to. [Chris Murphy]
also Field Recordings 1995:2002 appeared in the top 10 albums of the year in the folowing magazines:
humo 17.12.02 [belgian weekly tv mag]
The Wire – electronica section, Jan 2003 edition
Best of 2002:
Fragile as they are visceral, Christian Fennesz’s compositions often sound like instrumental approximations of everyday noise filtered through a pop sensibility — what seems like distant traffic could just as easily be a guitar symphony, and what seems like a distant industrial hum is more likely a precisely constructed experiment in rhythm and sound.
Side Line (Belgium):
First there’s the funny cover of this album, showing a picture of an old tractor in the midst of a field. It more than probably represents the title of the album by Christian Fennesz. His “Field Recordings” are a selection of contributions to compilations, special projects, film soundtracks, his debut 12″ and a few previously unreleased tracks. Diving into the universe of Fennesz is like a trip through diversified ambient impressions. The opening cuts are real attention grabbers for showing an elaborated writing process in the ambient style! He recovers his textures with a wealth of sound, adding several industrial ideas to the whole work! The “Instrument 1” and “Instrument 3″ pieces are both real pearls! It’s a while ago that an extreme form of ambient has caught my attention that much. Especially the 2nd cut is remarkable for the cold and sterile atmosphere that has been reinforced with a sort of space bleeps! I just regret that the entire album doesn’t sound the same direction! Fennesz also experiences with acoustic guitar soundscapes, opening a door to pure experimental form! I realize that the main part of his oeuvre comes closer to the real soundtrack composition, but I can only hope that this artist will ever create a pure opus in the style of of the debut songs! Anyway, a worth to listen! (DP:6/7)
Grounds for Renown. Christian Fennesz’s relative superstardom is fascinating given the opaque nature of his craft. Disfiguring, and in the process often disenfranchising the guitar through a series of audio synthesis programs doesn’t normally translate into wide-ranging recognition. Previous works like Hotel Parallel and plus forty seven degrees 56′ 37″ minus sixteen degrees 51′ 08” merit their masterpiece reputations, but remain intensely esoteric and austere. Similar European artists have blazed equally captivating excursions into the avant-garde (see the Raster-Noton label for example) without developing the buzz worthy of promotional comparisons and RIYL stickers. Fennesz’s recent forays into popular culture (“covering” the Rolling Stones and, for all intents and purposes, the Beach Boys) undoubtedly attracted music enthusiasts outside of the Powerbook nation and inside a more media-driven marketplace. The potential novelty value of “Paint It Black” and outright melodicism of Endless Summer caught avant-rock fans by surprise in 2001, filling a niche for something “new” and redefining the extent of their genre. However, an argument can be made that Fennesz’s fame is partially linked to his prolificacy. The man has played a part in over a dozen full-length recordings since 1995, ranging from his solo studio albums to improvisational group collaborations on labels like Erstwhile and Grob. It also doesn’t hurt to be one-third of a “supergroup” with Peter Rehberg and the ubiquitous Jim O’Rourke. Fans of Fennesz’s permeation of the avant-garde and not just his pop sensibility are more apt to fall for Field Recordings 1995:2002, a collection of compilation donations over the past eight years plus the entirety of 1995’s Instrument EP. Many of the recordings and remixes on Field Recordings unfurl with the gentility that marked Endless Summer, but not necessarily the explicit detail to melody. In a sense, Field Recordings acts as an introduction to the recently converted fashionista who know only of his sun-kissed systemische. Instrument, his debut 12″ for Mego, is the key installment on Field Recordings. The long out-of-print EP, here remastered, features some of Fennesz’s most overtly rhythmic compositions. “Instrument 1” consists of looped guitar roughage and danceable beats that could be adequately deemed “post-industrial”. “Instrument 2” dusts mechanical dither with hesitant, almost translucent piano, while “Instrument 3” overlays cyclical guitar stabs and a skittering cymbal to dizzying effect. Instrument’s finale “Instrument 4” is perhaps the jumping-off point for Fennesz’s later work. Here he trades rhythm for hues, looping a languid guitar piece underneath some digital dust. The resolute attention to backdrop, and on a grander scale the delineation of space, on “4” was manifest in greater detail on Hotel Parallel and remains one of Fennesz’s studio specialties. The various Various Artists tracks assembled here vary in profundity. “Ivend00”, which was composed for the rkk13 CD on Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge, is a thin exercise in pretense. “Surf”, taken from Ash International’s Decay is an aptly-titled and engrossing dive into shoegazer drone. “Good Man”, which was reportedly composed specifically for this compilation, actually sounds like material from the cutting-room floor of the Endless Summer sessions. Fans of the Summer sound have two far-better tracks to digest here, both remixes for Ekkehard Ehlers, possibly Fennesz’s closest contemporary. “Betrieb” features a serene string drone with momentary glitches, while the album’s closer “Codeine” (a remix of the Ehlers/Stephan Mathieu track “Heroin”) executes the Endless Summer blueprint to perfection. Its folky guitar strums and ethereal drones are a blissful counteractant to the harsher complexities of Field Recordings. Whether “Codeine” is enough to satiate the latter-day Fennesz fan is questionable, but for those who hold Hotel Parallel in the same regard as Endless Summer, the inclusion of Instrument more than justifies Field Recordings. Plus, nothing cements rock star status like a spotty B-sides compilation. [Otis Hart]
In “Field Recordings” there is a game of ironies which is not circumscribed to the relationship of the CD title and its cover. Contrary to what one is led to think, the album is not made up of field recordings, but rather of a compilation of Fennesz’s studio works. It comprises a period between 1995 and 2002, and includes tracks previously scattered, namely remixes, new versions and themes only available on compilations or vynil. However, despite such disparate origins, despite the wide time length, there is a link between the tracks which confirms Fennesz’s aesthetic coherence. On the other hand, the intrinsic quality of each track reaffirms Fennesz as one of contemporary electronics’ most interesting exponents. But this edition is, foremost, a perfect opportunity to deconstruct his method. It hits stridently, it dissecates coldly, it performs autopsies on the borderline of maximum voltage. the parisitism that sustains the endemic systems reveals its granular progression, it offers itself in calculated corrosion. It’s the noisiest side of Fennesz, the one in which acidity acts more explicitely upon the melodic surfaces. “Field Recordings” resists against any ambient context, it slowly thunders its back against tranquility. It is an album that which opens space with hypnotic precision, absorbs the air in a crawling progression. The idyllic cover is, therefore, misleading. But that is part of the game of ironires – this one is simply one more. (8/10) [trans. Heitor Alvelos]
Having made a considerable splash with last year’s ‘Endless Summer’, Fennesz has gone back through his catalogue and put together this compilation of small projects from the last seven years. Much of the material here is similar in feel to ‘Endless’ – powerbook click and cut combined with guitar producing curiously pastoral drone-based soundscapes. Given this kind of palette, it is easy for musicians to become complacent and just loop a few samples, sit back and let the laptop make the running. Christian Fennesz is not one for the easy option, however; every piece here is carefully thought out and structured, giving even the simplest-seeming drone an absorbing structural complexity. Pieces included here range from the ragged roar of Name with no Horse, an energetic deconstruction of America’s Horse With No Name, to two tracks from the soundtrack of the film ‘Blue Moon, Stairs’ and ‘Odessa’, which quiver with low-key microtonal subtlety. Here, in its entirety, is Fennesz’s first 12″ single, Instrument – four tracks, Instrument 1-4 which first appeared in ’97. Going back to the roots of the Fennesz sound, some of the inspirations for his music become clearer, with Instrument 2 having strong overtones of Cabaret Voltaire circa ‘Red Mecca’. The CD opens with the one entirely new track here, Good Man, which takes a simple guitar piece and pulls it apart like one of those exploded diagrams of aircraft etc that used to front The Eagle, abstracting the elements into buzzes, clicks and hums. The whole album is consistently strong, with curiously tuneful elements emerging from the drone and rumble that makes up the core of these pieces. Fennesz is proving himself to be a subtle worker within the limited paramaters he sets himself for his work. He shows confidence, dedication and an impressive imagination, The music that results is curiously beautiful in a way one would not expect, given the source material. This is also much stronger than one usually expects from a stop-gap archive-trawling album and has thoroughly whetted my appetite for Fennesz’s next proper album, due in early 2003. [Ian Simmons]
Sin pecar de fanatismo, hay que decir que Field recordings es lo que cualquier artista o banda requiere para enfrentarse a un nuevo público: una compilación de trabajos para películas, remixes y el hoy descatalogado EP de 1995, Instrument. El disco se abre con la genial e inédita ‘Good man’ en la que Christian Fennesz demuestra lo grandioso que resulta el ruidismo con toques melódicos y tintes sonoros guitarrescos. Quizás sea la gema del disco junto con lo que viene a continuación: el hoy buscadísimo Instrument EP que en este compilatorio aparece en su totalidad. La primera parte del disco acaba con Instrument 4, que debe mucho a Brian Eno por sus ambientes y sus teclados. La segunda parte empieza con la genial ‘Betrieb’, tema de un ruidismo y paisajes sonoros puros con toques finales similares a latidos; en ‘Menthol’, extraído del compilado Clicks and cuts vol. 2 (para el mismo sello), se aprecia la complejidad del sonido del vienés. ‘Surf’ remite a sonidos casi shoegazing, mezclados con la ambientación, ruidos y la música progresiva alemana de décadas atrás – krautrock, que le dicen. ‘Stairs’, ‘Odessa'(de la película Blue Moon del 2002) e ‘Ivendoo’ son ambientaciones de minuto y medio. Los dos minutos de guitarra y ruidos a los Merzbow de ‘Name with no horse’ casi se acercan a la versión original de America. El disco acaba con otro buen tema: ‘Codeine’, el remix para Heroin de E Ehlers y Stephan Mathieu, con los ya conocidos sonidos electro-acústicos de guitarras acopladas a sonidos paisajistas. Field recordings rescata para el “gran público” una excelente parte del catálogo de Fennesz que, de otro modo, habría sido patrimonio exclusivo de los coleccionistas. Más que recomendable. [Reynaldo Gonzales Ágreda]