Shades of Mimeo, the Creative Sources label presents an electroacoustic improv "supergroup" of sorts, assembled from around the world, centered in Berkeley (where this recording was committed to tape, or disc, as it were). Formed by trumpet deconstructionist Tom Djll, the group corrals European players Serge Baghdassarians and Boris Baltschun together with their American counterparts Chris Brown, Tim Perkis, Gino Robair, and others in a renegade soundclash, an emergent systems music whereby actual systems are abandoned, structure negated, technology used then disassembled and anarchy harnessed/reinforced. All of this is accomplished with little sonic fanfare and squeakily wrestled to the ground in the finest onkyo tradition, where less is more, the stereofield requiring sophisticated electron-magnification to unveil all the nuance contained deep within the aural spectrum.
In fact, with all the insectile scurrying going on amidst the opening piece's first tentative seconds, you'd be forgiven in thinking that you've stumbled upon some mutant environmental recording by accident. While faint, bass-like rumbles establish tremors along an amelodic fault line, the players scatter a vast multitude of sounds (suffocating shortwave signals, scratchy guitar, growing hums, electronic raindrops) across the penumbra like so much sonic debris. With the template established, Grosse Abfahrt proceed to virtually tear apart pat analogs and instrument clarity in the service of yielding spectacularly unnerving (and previously unheard) results. The eighteen minute "Interkontinentale Luftschiffahrt" reads like the autopsying of some vast bank of alien computing equipment: Matt Ingalls' clarinet probes dark depths throughout the tableaux etched by the diminutive noises of his colleagues, mental states altering pitches shuffled along by nagging frequencies, rubbed feedback, squalls of unknown electronics building on event horizons. These acts of febrile sound-scaping seem to truck more with the likes of Subotnick or Buchla than most any dozen modern-day electroacousticians. True, improvisation is the glue holding these pieces together — the artists are, no doubt, organizing these tactile environments on the fly — but the results court extremely experimental ideals more so than anything faintly tickling dusty corners of "jazz."
Overall, this is a protean work of electrical magic, outsourced from machines, bent into shape at the hands of their circuit manipulators, sounding like little else around. The octet's name translates as "great departure" — can't think of a better moniker with which to outfit any other explorers of sound this year.
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