Posts Tagged ‘Matija Schellander’

Ventil Records – V026 – 4th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Ultimately, it’s apparent now that social media changed everything. But one thing specific was the relationship between artist and audience. Historically, the distance between the two was clear and also integral. The last, ten to fifteen years hasn’t only seen that separation eroded, but a certain expectation that the artist should engage directly with the audience via online platforms, be it social media or a blog maintained as a part of their website. As a marketing tool, it makes sense, but it’s hard not to feel that something has been lost along the way. Is it right that the artist should be made accessible, or that there should be an expectation of there being some kind of quite direct interaction? It’s not even necessarily about maintaining a persona or a degree of enigma: many artists are introverts by nature, and don’t create art to stand in the limelight in front of it. Many artists create to escape something, or simply to expel or have an outlet for that which they cannot convey by any other means.

I’m often not particularly communicative myself. I don’t want to talk about it, whatever it is – assuming I even know. I simply want to write or make ‘music’. But I did, recently post on Facebook about how I often berate myself for not being as productive as I would like to be. People were largely sympathetic, but few, it would seem, truly ‘got it.’

One artist who truly does understand that eternal restlessness is polyartist Maja Osojnik, and her quest for creativity is unstinting. Having been involved in several visual exhibitions, a live stream, and various compositions in recent months, she’s also recorded an album with collaborator Matija Schellander to deliver the debut Rdeča Raketa (Red Rocket) album.

This album is both very ‘now’ and also very much an expiration of the human condition, specifically its failings and how communication is key, but very much prone to failure.

As the liner notes outline, ‘…and cannot reach the silence deals with the current world of misunderstandings, communicating past each other, willingly and unwillingly overlooking or ignoring each other’s meanings via various fast-paced forms and platforms of communication; and, with that, the tightening of incompatible parallel “realities.” It explores forms of violence; physical and verbal, external and self-inflicted. It explores forms of power; the dangerous thin line between giving power to and giving power over oneself, and forms of subjugation and addiction on both societal and, more significantly, on interpersonal levels. “… Look at us! Beasts, bottomless pits, never to be full! To be fulfilled. Glued onto each other in sweat, a never-ending pain and evenly spread, at all times…”

They go on to ask, ‘In those dark, dystopian lyrics, full of questions, such as “What is being said and what stays unspoken? Who does it refer to? Who is protecting whom? For what reasons? Who is being addressed or what needs to be considered?” the wish, the need and the struggle for self-empowerment, honesty, love and reconciliation is exposed or, at the very least, nourished.’

All of this resonates, and deeply. Only yesterday, I had been considering how depth of conversation seems to have evaporated. People have neither the time more the attention. Conversations were often cut short or curtailed or otherwise hurried back in the days of the office, but that was nothing compared to thee standard one- or two-line text exchanges, comments shared by Skype or Teams. We – collectively – don’t really ‘talk’ anymore. We’re paranoid, time-deprived, stressed. We’re also so polarised and entrenched in our oppositional viewpoints that there is no debate, only division. And with social media, 24/7 scrolling news and infinite notifications from apps, there is no respite – ever. There is no silence, wherever you may seek it.

The three longform compositions on …and cannot reach the silence are heavy and rich with atmosphere. The first, the ten-minute ‘the night is spilling across the room…’ approaches by stealth. A low, slow, ominous drone, intercut with aberrant thuds and squelches. An artisanal, wordless voice drifts in, and it’s haunting, ghostly, otherworldly. What does it mean? The lyrics, sung in a detached tone, are stark, bleak: ‘You were unspoken / She was born already broken….’ Eventually, the words drift out into a wordless undulating hum and the world slowly disintegrates.

The disintegration continues through the lumbering lurch of counterpart composition ‘…like gasoline’. Its slow, yawning rhythmic intonations evoke the heavy grind of SWANS circa 1986, relentless, booming, droning, and it’s the perfect backdrop to Maja’s semi—spoken vocal delivery. She’s robotic, inhuman, empty, even when articulating human emotions – ‘I want to you so bad, I want you so bad,’ she repeats at one point. But is it want, or is it need? Something less about choice or desire, and more about emotional survival? ‘I am tired’ she repeats, over and over, in tones ranging from weary to frustrated, defeated to angry, and you feel it – you know it. The articulation is comparable to one of Bruin Gysin’s permutational poems: only, instead if rearranging the words, the emphasis changes in order to find different meanings of the same words. This one resonates. The tiredness saps your life and saps your soul, and you feel the differences between ‘I’m tired, please leave me be,’ and ‘I’M TIRED! FUCK OFF AND LEAVE ME ALONE!’

The third and final composition, ‘waiting it out’, is fifteen and a half minutes of ominousness. The vocals are all but submerged, a babble beneath the undulating drone and trilling. Synths crank up and head for take-off as they stray into the heavily phased world of early industrial and power electronics, a wheezing wall of wailing synths puffing and groaning and bleeping and whirring and all converging in a seething sonic mound. Towards the end, it ventures skywards in a succession of laser-guided rockets arcing into the sky.

…and cannot reach the silence is an album with an immense range, and an understated intensity – and a magnificent artistic achievement.

AA

KT.eps

Mamka Records – 3rd December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Just when things threaten to be getting a bit safe and predictable, with many musical artists having found ways of working around Covid restrictions to record remotely, release digitally and promote by means of performing on line or otherwise streaming shows, the ever-restless Maja Osojnik manages to do something truly different and innovative.

The third release on her recently-established Mamka Records is far, far more than just another digital single, and it’s not just about the music, either: it’s about both art and artefact, and forms the very fabric – literally – of an exhibition as well.

With Matija Schellander, Osojnik is Rdeča Raketa, and for this project, they’ve teamed up with author Natascha Gangl and evolved a genre unto themselves, in the form of the ‘sound comic’ (or beautifully evocative ‘Klangcomic’ in German). The concept – whereby, as with comics, ‘where words and images merge into one another, here it is the spoken word and sound which blend together.’ As such, this is a graphic novel in audio form, a juxtaposition of word and sound that conjures an alternative space in between, a cut-up collage of sorts.

But first, the artefact: as the liner notes explain, ‘Each individual record is its own uniquely woven and hand-printed specimen. Woven from the randomly selected strips of paper, cutting remnants from the other works’. Consciously or otherwise, this links the project into the lineage of cut-up forms that feeds through from Tristan Tzara to Kenji Siratori, although perhaps most obviously via William Burroughs. The assimilation and recycling of pre-exiting material taps into the subconscious on a level that’s difficult to explain, conjuring a strange sense of deja-vu, whereby the ghosts of those remnants and scraps of other works forge a subliminal nexus of intertextual references, reminding us of the things we know, but don’t know that we know (to paraphrase Burroughs).

‘Superandome’ very much exists within this territory of the simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, a murky electronic collage – not really a tune or a song but a shifting soundscape – but an immersive experience. Woozy, tremorous synthy wibbles oscillate and ripple and churn, while a mutter of voices gradually rises in volume and pitch until it reaches a helium-filled cacophony or babble. As with any collage, interpretation is as much about rezeptionsästhetik – essentially what the individual brings to the work as its specific meaning as bestowed upon a work by its creator. And as such, I find myself increasingly on edge, the swelling conglomeration of chatter evoking the anxiety of overcrowding and agoraphobia.

‘Super Random Me’- which is exactly the same 4:28 duration as ‘Superandome’ – is a yet more extreme collage as fragments of voices are overlaid and cut in / out over ominous rumbles, eerie drones, and random tweets. Again, it’s disorientating, bewildering – and yet equally, an encapsulation of the experience of life as lives, a clamour of voices and random sounds all at once.

Both tracks are reworked and edited from a previous work, and so such, are recycled cut-ups that in turn form a self-referential intertext which also challenge the concept of a work of art ever being ‘finished’ or a fixed definite article.

As for the art, in lieu of a conventional single launch, the record was set to be presented as a picture (built out of 110 of the 160 singles) and a video on 17th of December as an Exhibition in the Gallery Kluckyland in Vienna, and the exhibition is scheduled to run until the 3rd of January 2021 – and while at present it can only be viewed from outside, ‘Superandome / Super Random Me’ stands as a remarkable accomplishment that shows once again that it’s the artists of the avant-garde who innovate the hardest. In the year of the lockdown, we need art even more than ever.

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Mamka Records – MAM01 – 1st November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Language becomes sound, and sound becomes language. Out of the fragmentary, the density is weaved. From the depths of the fragile, the whole is born. Time structures are questioned and assembled through loops. Field recording from Mexico meet Osojnik’s singing. Spoken language turn into melodies, whole noise turns into bittersweet rancheras.’ The words from the text – more of a short essay – which accompanies this release resonate: as a long-time student and practitioner of cut-up methodologies, I’m a firm believer in the unusual power of the fragmentary, the capacity for those broken, ruptured pieces of discontinuity to unlock experiences and emotions direct approaches to narrative and the channelling of experience cannot. similarly, I’ve long maintained that the language of sound has the capacity to transcend the language of words, to touch deep and difficult parts of the soul and the psyche irrespective of the tongue or tongues in the listener’s ken.

And so it is that the first release on Mamka records, the label established by Maja Osojnik – whose work I’ve not only covered previously but greatly admire – is something really quite special. My download arrives – personally addressed, handwritten, stamped, embellished – all the way from Vienna, in an envelope 7” square and therefore resembling a 7” single, accompanied by a six-sided press release packed with words far more engaging than the usual hyperbole. There’s also a numbered cut-vinyl print, 7” square included in the package, and it all adds up to a multisensory experience – sonic, tactile, visual – which above all conveys a real sense of commitment, a passion, to making something tangible, something that’s not ephemeral or disposable, but something that matters. The medium is the message, and Maja has found a way – labour-intensive as it is – which goes beyond the medium of the audio release to create… art. The same approach applies to the ‘commercial’ release, a 7” available in a super-small run of 150 copes, only 120 of which are available for public consumption. But better target a small, passionate niche than a large indifferent mainstream if art is your pursuit.

Finding a way to render digital media tactile, visual, and above all, personal, in giving the digital listener a large portion of the vinyl experience, Maja is quite possibly breaking new ground, or at least standing at the forefront of something new. For me, it’s less about nostalgia and more about recovering some of what’s been lost with the demise of physical media.

Said release finds Maja performing with Rdeča Raketa (together with Matija Schellander, she’s integral to the duo who go by the name of Rdeča Raketa) and author Natascha Gangl to deliver a brace of tracks – very much a replication of the classic 7” A and B sides.

‘Chicken’ opens with a frenzy of analogue synth noise. It simmers to a grating buzz and pulsating electro beat before Maja barrels in with a deep-throated monotone with a barrage of lyrics about a chicken in her heart which bleeds and bleeds, and while clucking electronic bleeps twitter and bleep here, there, and everywhere. It’s weird, it’s noisy, it bumps and thrums, but still has an off-kilter pop sensibility partially submerged in the layers of noise and oddness.

‘Die Toten’ (that’s ‘the dead’ in translation) is rather less accessible, but no less intriguing, engaging, or odd, and in fact, introduces a new level of strangeness to proceedings. It’s low, slow, lugubrious.

Simultaneously weird and wonderful, ‘Chicken’ is everything you want – and need – by way of an introduction to partially-accessible, highly idiosyncratic, and extremely engaging weird shit.

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Natasha Gangl & Rdeča Raketa – Chicken