The premiere klanggold release is by label head Andreas Usenbenz (aka Nobile) whose laptop strategies involve the reinterpretation of classical music elements—not that anyone would necessarily recognize them as such after Usenbenz is through with them. The sounds themselves may remain recognizable but the remarkably unusual configurations that emerge within his arrangements sound completely unfamiliar.
In the opener “bahnhof,” chattering electronic organisms incessantly shudder and squirm while softer, recorder-like tones eke out some faint semblance of conventional melody over restless activity churning below. The equally-surprising “durch” pairs acoustic bass lines and tom-tom accents but combines them with croaking tones and glockenspiel tinkles into some mutant variation of a jazz ballad. Each piece
explores heretofore undiscovered terrain: an army of trilling percussive rattles streams through “k.rogk”; a funereal two-tone lurch drags “tagtraum” forward while dense bird-like masses overtop threaten to attack; and, like a ping-pong match taking place in some alternate galaxy, gaseous surges hypnotically alternate at both left and right channels throughout “renoise.” Identifiable acoustic sounds rub shoulders with abstract noises in organically unfolding pieces that both command one's attention and simultaneously exhaust it. Unpredictability reigns throughout, and consequently the listener is engaged at each moment, constantly thrown off-balance by the jarring paths the pieces pursue. Though Usenbenz's Nobile material sounds nothing like Oval, the two artists are similar in the degree to which they challenge the listener with entirely alien yet wholly captivating experiences. Pelktron is an auspicious label debut, to say the least. (2007 Textura.org)
REVIEW BY FREFREETHINKER
Klanggold boss Andreas Usenbenz brings us some customary avant-gardisms under his Nobile moniker with Pelktron, a collection of tracks documenting the adventures of acoustic, instrumental source material through an array of laptop noodlings and processing. Shards of traditionally non-electronic instruments rise through a froth of prickly bit crushing, insectoid conversations, mechanical bell tones and contemplative silences to provide for an endearing listen.
The nicely compressed industrial ambience of opener Bahnhof provides the backdrop for some stereo field-widening low-end bubbles whilst shiny machines fan their metal wings in the centre. The factory is soon joined by flautists, no less, to create a mechanical wheeziness reminiscent of early 70s Kraftwerk/Tangerine Dream, or indeed, Isnaj Dui’s Amacrine.
Square waves all around chime away to what sounds like a jam between a music class at a junior school, a jazz band and Steinbruchel in Durch, a charming track full of modulating microloops of shiny metal, a happy double bass and much fun hacking away at snare drums and glockenspiels.
Back to a wide stereo field now with Hapymoming, and when a tom-tom from a vintage drum machine comes to life, it comes to life bubbling and microlooping through a rubber tube accompanied by a quasi-oriental guitar in this track that opens with some bright treble drones interfering to create warm beat patterns.
Such tones soon turn into a grey-black wall of transformers and substations now as we move onto K.rogk. Insectoid inhabitants of an alien power station discuss energy levels to a deep strumming that would not be out of place in the stoner doom monoliths of Boris or Om.
The use of extended silences and gating towards the final moments of some of Pelktron’s tracks give the listener room to contemplate the sounds. This is particularly effective towards the end of Durch, where the gaps between, say, a chime and a burst of double bass enhance Durch’s (dare I say it) cuteness. Not so cute is the gating finalising K.rogk, providing a nice, stuttering roll-off in preparation for the electrical phenomena of Renoise and bass riff filtering of Tagtraum that rising from molten, subterranean depths to a narrow, mid-range light keeping constant amidst the swarm of fuzzy noodlings and electronic box-shaking.
We finalise our cutting-edge pioneering with the appropriately named Mikroorganisation, a more static document of almost-choral air tubes keeping a bed of deep strings at bay, compressing them to the bottom of the mix as the columns of air brush either side of our heads, guiding us in crescendo after crescendo to proceeding Klanggold releases which we can be sure will be as enjoyable as Pelktron.
On a purely managerial level, it is not always clear whether a musician is the right person to run a label. From an artistic point of view, however, it is highly commendable. What could, after all, be better to get your creative intent across than actually releasing albums with the music of your choice yourself? Andreas Usenbenz has been active under a plethora of different monikers and already released a digital 3’’ with the tonatom netimprint. “pelktron”, however, is not only just his latest offering but also the first business card of his fledgling record company klanggold. Let’s consider this as a summarised mission statement, then.
As such, it holds the promise of great things to come and delivers on some of them right away. Usenbenz has always been interested in the way a composition can be organised on an atomic level, taking on manifold meanings as one changes the lense’s focus. “mikroogranisation” is the German term for this phenomenon (which we don’t believe needs any translation) as well as the title of the last track on the album, albeit not the only one to feature this principle. Already opener “bahnhof” (“trainstation”, a word full of “points of departure”) takes a similar path, with crackling static and bleeping morse code running over subtle electric discharges, while various overblown recorder motives circle each other in unexpected dissonant harmony. There is a development in each thematic line, enabling the listener to observe either a single one or different sets of combinations and to thus engage in an active dialogue with the work. This openness to various interpretations is a pleasant surprise and signifies a distance from hermetically sealed academic approaches – despite all of the seriousness this music posseses. The virtual (and, when presented on stage, very real) handshake between artificial and natural source material, as well as the equality of spontaneous live improvisation and post-production techniques is a second feature of Nobile and marks this as an always searching, yet warmly organic style with references ranging from jazz (the bouncing bass pluckings of “durch”) to industrial (the deep miniature power plant hummings of “tagtraum”). Never nervous, yet brimming with action and creativity, the pieces glide by in an unhurried fashion, never too abstract too dispell mental pictures and never too concrete to pin everything down. Compared to other players from the genre, “pelktron” has decidedly more headroom.
While each track is full of discoveries, it is probably “renoise” who stands out from the fold, sinply for being different in its linear development and concentration on a single pattern: For over eight minutes, a flangeing choral drone rotates backwards and forwards like a sugar-coated DNA helix against a fairy tale night sky. It is here that the message of klanggold defies being a dogma and turns into a vision which others can fill with their music. Or Usenbenz himself, on a hopefully soon to be released follow-up.
By Tobias Fischer