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(Un)heard Spring: 'Waking up again, Xenakis is nothing like it.'

Each month, in the (Un)heard series, I present extraordinary sounds that do not go unnoticed and unsung. In this episode: Plan Kruutntoone, Horse Lords, Luc Ferrari, Anemone Tube, Jaap Vink and Kraftwerk in 3D.

Plan Kruutntoone - What Do the Hands Do

(LP on esc.rec.)

"woke up again. xenakis is nothing like it. shoving myself and stuff in search of safety. how do I put it to make it?"-a snippet of lyrics that hold Plan Kruutntoone together. Moreover, the radically idiosyncratic Groningen band knows how to: " panicking in the mud searching for the can opener that is my life but of which I can't say the same of which since always my little damned always an awesome time." Their new LP does not stay aloof, but creeps through the open window. That might produce an uneasy feeling. Like there's nowhere completely at ease.

So searching and unsteady - somewhat nervously - the music whirls and fans out of focus. What Do the Hands Do stays close; to the people and the human scale. The window open also forms a window to stare out melancholically through. Moreover: to let fresh wind in. Plan Kruutntoone experiments with avant-rock and De Kift-like diction and unites Bernlef-like jazz and poetry. Melancholy and deep longing predominate: never ordinary but also not for a moment unusual - there is still that security, somewhere. With neither head nor tail and yet a unity that demands all your attention. This is therefore an LP that does not let you go: no wallpaper, but the whole room and the view.

Horse Lords - Mixtape IV

(Cassette in personal management)

Horse Lords was one of the revelations of the past Rewire festival. The Baltimore-based group releases mixtapes alongside its own albums. On the fourth volume, the band performs Julius Eastman's Stay On It: a hypnotic work full of razor-sharp pulse and spatial rhythm. You could also say: the point where minimal music turns out to be extremely danceable.

The b-side is set aside for a piece in which male and female speaking voices and chants from the Women's March held in Washington on 21 January merge into a frenetic bubbling electronic bath. Moreover, Horse Lords lay a foundation of groove in gallop underneath. The voices - although the individual phrases remain intelligible - gradually form a mélange resembling linguistic noise. Words thus sing detached from meaning. How far, then, is this track from the Horse Lords idiom that is normally purely instrumental? Intriguing work from one of the most interesting groups at the moment.

Anemone Tube - In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality

(CD on Blossoming Fern, LP announced via The Epicurean)

Stefan Hanser has long been making a name for himself with a condensed form of post-industrial ambient. In it, noise and feedback compete with field recordings. On his new record, he pulls raging guitar feedback into the unfathomable depths of soul where it transforms into a cross between shoegaze and drone. More than before, Hanser keeps breathing room in his work. As a result, he keeps every opportunity for Wagnerian drama to flourish. The truth about humanity may not always be florid. However, it does provide Anemone Tube's electronic symphony with intensely humane impact. With this head-bang of reality, Hanser delivers perhaps the best record of this spring.

Jaap Vink - s/t

(2LP on RecollectionGRM/Editions MEGO)

The label's name says it all: it keeps alive the memory of the glory days of the Groupe des Recherches Musicales. To this end, more than 15 LPs have already been released by the likes of Iannis Xenakis, Bernard Parmegiani and Ivo Malec. Pioneering work from electronic music is thus in this way rescued from oblivion. And also finds a grateful audience, as the LPs are often sold out even before they are released.

Jaap Vink did not work in Paris, but at the Institute of Sonology in (then) Utrecht. There, pioneering work was done in algorithmic composition and digital sound synthesis. In the 1970s, Vink was looking for an orchestral electronic sound. So: not a succession of individual sounds, but organic sound complexes. On these 2LPs, Vink controls feedback networks of analogue tape recorders, filters and modulators with intensely human hand. Often shrouded and carried, verging on the sacred, he thus emphatically draws electronic music away from the lab, into full life.

 

Kraftwerk - 3D The Catalogue

(8LP box set on Parlophone)

What is live about Kraftwerk's concerts is always in question. Who knows, the gentlemen may have already made the alternative versions of their legendary tracks in the studio. Add some live vocals and they're done. The men have been touring for quite some time with their 3D shows, in which each night one of the eight albums is played in its entirety, with spatial projections. A boxset of these will now appear; on LP, CD, Blu-ray and on DVD+Blu-ray. What to do with that without the image? A lot as it turns out, because never before have Kraftwerk's sparkling and twinkling melodies rippled through space with such sharpness and relief. With headphones on, you completely imagine yourself in a vast universe ruled by pocket calculators, robots and motorways. Nothing new? Well no: Kraftwerk in the flesh.

Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg

Sets his ear to places he does not yet know in today's sound. Writes the catalogue raisonné of Swedish artist Leif Elggren's oeuvre, is a board member of Unsounds and programmes music at GOGBOT Festival. His essays on sound art have appeared on releases by Pietro Riparbelli, Michael Esposito, Niels Lyhnne Løkkegaard and John Duncan.View Author posts

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