Posts Tagged ‘Fabrique Records’

Fabrique Records FAB073 – 17th January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

As the press text summarises, ‘Cusp is a collection of compositions taken from the soundtrack for the film STRESS by Florian Baron. The feature-length documentary gives voice to five young veterans, their experiences and trauma’. It was never going to be light or upbeat, and immediately, the sounds emanating from the speakers are unsettling, disturbing: blasts and reverberating crashes echo all around over slow, elongated drones, and ‘It’s Happening’ washes into the slow ebb and flow surges of synth that form ‘Them or Me’.

It may be good to talk, but those of us who haven’t been there simply cannot relate, cannot compute or comprehend the meaning, the pain, the anguish. It’s a world beyond and it would be a mistake and an insult to pretend otherwise. Anything, from sympathy to empathy feels like an underestimation and an undersale, a devaluement. Perhaps it’s an act of solipsism: the suffering in the mind of another is unknowable. This renders the territory Cusp and the film it soundtracks difficult on a number of levels.

Trauma is by no means entertainment, and while I haven’t seen the film, Irmirt’s handling is impressive in its subtlety, and it’s understandable why she was awarded the German Documentary Film Music Award in 2019. The jury remarked how in her soundtrack, she ‘dissolves the boundaries between sound design and musical composition in a virtuoso and at the same time self-evident way, thus creating a sound cosmos that, through uncompromising reduction, generates brutal knowledge.’

The best soundtracks are always understated, and compliment, rather than dominate the visuals they accompany, and Cusp, which takes fragments of the soundtrack as a whole – with eight tracks, half of which are only around the two-minute mark, this is a distillation of a broader experience, and it works well.

It is dark, unsettling, but nothing is overdone. And that’s why it works.


Jana Irmirt - Cusp

Fabrique Records – FAB060CD – 14th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Whatever is present, there is always an absence of something, even if the absence is of nothing. What absence ends on Jana Irmert’s debut album, which comprises six pieces created with a combination of field recordings, experimental electronic sounds, and voice, is unclear. But then, clarity is not Irmert’s objective: End of Absence is subtle, nuanced and atmospheric, a project designed to stir the imagination.

The title track opens the album with a thick bussing hum of feedback, which mutates into an eternal, mid-tone drone. The sparse beats and monotone spoken word of ‘Bagful’ sits somewhere between Young Marble Giants and Throbbing Gristle, the thunking percussion whips through the stark minimal grind. Elsewhere, on, ‘Obstacles’ a barrelling wind of white noise, burred with scraping metal-edged electronic distortion, blows into silence. Long, rumbling tones hang and swirl like mist around hisses and hums.

Irmert’s interests are the vague, irrational, less tangible aspects of existence, and these manifest in the compositions which make up End of Absence. Immense washes of sound, like tidal waves of static, crash against virtual shores on an imaginary world. drawing from a broad sonic palette, Irmert inspires an almost paradoxical sense of engaged detachment, in which the listener cannot help but bring something of themselves to complete the listening experience. In such an exercise in inclusivity, both artist and listener are fully present, and so we arrive at the end of absence.

Jana Irmert - End of Absence

Fabrique Records – FAB058- 21st October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

On looking at Christopher Chaplin’s latest album cover, I’m reminded of Peter Hammill’s The Future Now. He may have a full beard, but Chaplin looks every bit as odd and wild as Hammill on his first post-Van der Graaf solo record. The strangely suggestive joints of meat which adorn the back cover only heighten the sense of the bizarre.

The comparisons to Hammill’s album end on the exterior, though: Je Suis Le Ténébreux (while ‘ténébreux’ has numerous translations, including ‘dark’, it’s I am the Enigma, in this context) contains four extended tracks, on which Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Christine Roedelius recite segments of text inspired by ‘The Enigma of Bologna’, a text in Latin from the XVI Century inscribed on a tombstone near Bologna. Poet Claudia Schumann also provides and performs poetry texts, and they’re accompanied by French actress and soprano Judith Chemla and Italian tenor Pino Costalunga.

The music is experimental, and frequently more incidental, than the focal element of the album. The compositions feel free, fluid, and serve to primarily create atmosphere, in a dark and appropriately mysterious-sounding manner. Low, grating rumbles groan beneath scraping strings, swells of scratching discord ebb and flow, slowly, deliberately. Sudden jarring bursts of noise blast from the long, ominous string drones. There are moments of musicality, delicacy and grace, subtle chamber orchestral passages which drift through the mist, to slowly dissolve.

The fragmentary pieces of oration, sometimes half-sung, sometimes whispered, often echoed and distorted, weave in and out. Often indecipherable without recourse to the accompanying booklet (especially for speakers of neither French nor Latin), the vocal incursions are as much another layer of atmosphere as narrative. Aggressive bells and lumbering piano combine with low percussion and sinister, whispered vocals on the title track.

The enigmatic text, which is essentially a long riddle based around a man named Lucius Agatho Priscius and a woman named Aelia Laeilia Crispis, includes the classically paradoxical lines, ‘’Tis neither ‘tis neither -But ‘tis all and each / Together without a body I aver / This is in truth a sepulchre / But notwithstanding, I proclaim / Both corpse and sepulchre are the same’.

The aura of death and otherness radiates from every corner of an album which twists and turns and offers no satisfactory resolution to its own internal complexities. It’s a restless work, and one which isn’t entirely satisfying because it doesn’t seem to ever settle in any sense. Given its inspiration, it’s perhaps just the way it ought to be.