Όταν ο πειραματισμός πετυχαίνει «κέντρο»!
Δεν είνια δα και λίγο το 7.9 για το Pitchfork, από τον Mark Richardson, για την 4η δισκογραφική απόπειρα των σπουδαίων Alog, «Unemployed«.
«This is the fourth Alog record I’ve reviewed here in the last seven years, and with each I have to assume that you’re reading about them for the first time. Dag-Are Haugan and Espen Sommer Eide are electro-acoustic experimenters from Norway, and they’ve yet to step out from the dimly lit corners of the contemporary music avant-garde: They’ve never «broken through,» and at this point I doubt they ever will. Their music is not inaccessible, but it does play with the idea of what music itself can be, and they tend to avoid emotional manipulation. They present sound that is texturally rich and organized in an interesting way, but they’re not telling you to feel happy or sad when you listen to it. All of which is to say that they are way down the list of abstract sound-makers likely to appeal to people who have a limited amount of space in their daily listening for abstract sound.
This is understandable, but it’s also a shame, because Alog make wonderful music that sounds only better with time. Unemployed, their most recent album for Rune Grammofon, is very much a continuation of the arc of their previous records, meaning that it doesn’t really sound like any of them. Every Alog record– and indeed every track– carves out its own space, and Haugan and Eide seem either incapable of or uninterested in repeating themselves. But while they don’t have an overriding sonic signature, they do have some broad qualities that drive their approach to music. Their music is whimsical, frightening, sentimental, and atmospheric, often at the same time. On this album, they use location-based instrumental recordings, found sound, field recordings made on tour, and mix it all with studio work that blends samples and live instruments. These elements and approaches are fused together in such a way that you never really know which sound came from where. The result is music that feels open and free, which, for me, serves as a welcome reminder of how much my typical response to music is informed by idiom.
In general, there are two ideas that inform Alog’s music. One the one hand you have playfulness. In the manner of, say, the Residents, Alog’s music has a strong sense of «Let’s try this and see what happens.» Tracks like «Apeland», which seems to be a recording of a gorgeous organ of some kind, but mic’d in such a way that the action on the keys produces both warm drones and a percussive tapping, feels like the product of setting up some microphones in a room and having fun with sound. «Baklandet» seems like a folk song of some kind, sung by a high voice that could be female, but the acoustic instruments are tweaked and messed with slightly, giving the pretty tune a destabilizing warble. «Et Besok», a simple exercise in the emotional possibilities of vocal processing, takes a voice and does strange things to it, balling it up in effects and then spreading it back out so it assumes a new shape.
When Alog aren’t being playful, they’re exploring the idea of music as ritual. In some cases, this comes out in their ear for layered and immersive drones that strike a balance between the electronic and the organic. Alog are good at making tracks that you can turn up and zone out to, tracks that feel like rooms to explore. And then sometimes they turn up the heat. The 17-minute «Last Day at the Assembly Line», which serves as the centerpiece of the record, is an exercise is tension and catharsis. It mixes caveman drum pounding, rapidly bowed strings that sound like gears grinding away in a machine, and, eventually, voices that chant and coo but favor sound over language. It’s a terrifically powerful track that manages to evoke both stasis and decay, and it’s continually either building up or falling apart. It definitely brings to mind krautrock, like a super-stripped-down version of the cultish mantras of Amon Düül’s Psychedelic Underground, but pulling out a term like «krautrock» doesn’t quite make sense. Alog get me thinking about what music is and how it works on an almost molecular level, so familiar «sounds like» references feel beside the point. Their music is enjoyable for how it gets me thinking in addition to how it makes me feel. It returns me to that state of hearing something new and alien for the first time and wanting to know more.»