Insert bad pun or allusion here.

Annette Krebs/Ernst Karel Falter 1-5 Cathnor

I was going to start this thing off saying how much I liked being proven wrong. And how in in being proven wrong I came to realize that ideas/world views should be malleable, and that I should always reevaluate, or at least be able to change my mind, while at the same time procreating with the Other in the joyful unknowing. But I realized that was total bullshit. I hate being wrong. I’ll defend the most inane arguments, the most sophomoric crap as long as I can say I was right at the end. I’ve had my nose broken because of the feelings of my eternal rightness in the face of that eternal wrongness. But I guess being wrong is character building, as well as face altering. While I won’t be as boldfaced as to say that Falter has added to my character or my Roman nose, I will say it’s given me pause, and made me reevaluate a few things.

I didn’t like Falter at first. I wrote it off after a few listens, thinking it was yet another album made up of arbitrary sound choices, fused together in novel, if listless ways. It didn’t scream. It just stood in the corner, bugging my friends when they were trying to throw knives into my walls. I’m not sure when it happened, when I realized that there was more going on then I originally noticed. But by virtue that I still played it, still plugged away at what once seemed the dull, monochromatic shifting fields of the first track, “1,” it was different, more worthwhile than most of the electronic acoustic improvisational hullabaloo that I find out there. There was something that cohered, prickled up, like that arm you rolled over on while asleep, only for it to rouse you from slumber at 4am: and in your arm‘s bloodless obduracy, you realize that it seems to have a life of its own and, yikes, it doesn’t give a shit about you anymore.

Krebs’ work has always been interesting, from that first solo on Fringes, to the duos with Sugimoto to the last few years’ canonical (have we come so far where we relegate things that are so vibrant to these dustbins?) solo on Absinthe and the duos with Nakamura, Davies, Unami. There’s something that’s distinctly, wholly her own. And it’s not as though some of the sounds she creates– the steel wool against string, the field recordings, the sonic detritus — is entirely new, because it isn’t; but how she uses these sounds, the subtle force of sonic placement, and her intuition and confidence is singular. And that isn’t to say Karel sits out here, as his work with EKG will testify, he’s got his own tenacious musicality. But here, unlike EKG there’s none of his trumpet that easily distinguishes him, and instead works in washes and burrs of a warm analogue electronics, which creates depth and contours to Krebs deconstructed guitar and recordings. It’s a collaboration, sometimes difficult to distinguish who does what. I suppose that can be frustrating. That is unless you just let it occur.

And like most of these things in this area, where the music is at first so aggressively obscure, it’s a joy when these things begin to make their own sense and adhere to your own intuition. When the sense that there is more than just a squalor of buzz, but a general thought out, contemplated thrust to the sound, you realize that something is broached, an impasse reached. And while all of this could just sound like words, so many words, don’t hold that against Falter. Because while the sounds are not easy, and could be as old hat to many of as up on our Rowe and Nakamura as the writing majors are on their Chekov and Carver (don’t even get me started), they are beautifully delineated. The feeling on Falter, created by deft use of space, sub woofer sonics, gentle washes of detuned guitar strum and indiscernible electronic skree are foundational for something greater. There’s a feeling that is held and brought about throughout it all, a story arc, that holds even while being obscure. So often I get the feeling that sounds are played on improv records simply for immediate effect and then forgotten on the rush to the next novelty. Not so here. This holds mood. And becomes more than just a fascinating mystery, but actually satisfying in its own musicality, in the gentle streams of high pitched teeming in areas of “2” that slip over low grade crumble, movements in dark and light. Or the fleeting subterranean drips that are smothered in static, inaudible speech, sine tones that abut walls of bass tones like hanging vines in “3.”

Whereas so much music I find myself lulled to asleep by inaction, by the lack of work, this makes you struggle and form the connections that are not readily within reach. That’s why I assume some of us, however few, find interest, enthusiasm, joy in some of this. And while one can say that life is hard enough as is, that we don’t need challenges heaped upon us by our music, by our art– there is the unfortunate few that desire just that, and still find some form of drive, excitment in the difficult, the obtuse, the challenging. To be wrong once and a while. But I risk (when have I haven’t) climbing too far up my own ass here. The last thing I want anyone coming away from this is thinking we should all be amazed by our own taste. Fuck taste, just give me some honesty. And as far as I can tell Krebs and Karel are doing that. Don’t hold my plumbing of the shallow depths against them. It’s all I know.

Beautiful sleeve design from the always reliable Cathnor Records

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