01. Herbe Zeiten
A postal collaboration recorded during 2007/2008
Herbe Zeiten (Harsh Times) is a 18 minutes piece for guitar, electronics and computer
The title of this release is translated as ‘Harsh Times’ and maybe from the likes of Philip Julian, whom we also know as Cheapmachines, this might be a program title – even when these days he plays a softer tune too (and much better at that). Here he teams up, armed with his laptop, with Tomas Korber, the Swiss guitarist and electronics improviser who worked a lot with Jason Kahn and Gunter Muller, among many others. Its not mentioned on the cover, but I think this is a work of live improvisation. Some of the changes are rather crudely played and also sound wise this seems above anything else a live recording. Its however not a work of harsh noise. Below the surface there is the almighty drone (of, I think, Philip Julian) and Korber plays his guitar and electronic in a somewhat louder vein, with clang and bang here and there. A pretty nice work I think that holds the attention of the listener throughout the piece, also when it moves, towards the end to a somewhat more subdued area. (Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly)
Herbe Zeiten (”harsh times”) is the most recent cd-r release to come from the excellent con-v weblabel, and its third or fourth to take advantage of the 3′ format. A single 18-minute piece opens with staticky oscillations, presumably from Julian, lo-fi yet pronounced, where it seems the hidden details are struggling to break free of a curiously audible carrier frequency. There’s immediate connection, with Korber demonstrating that he is in fact using a guitar, though his choice of sounds move quickly from string-generated tones to percussives and manipulation of his axe’s extremities for the remainder of the piece. In the first of a couple of fades, around five minutes in, the duo dials it down and back up again, the gap between laced with high-pitched, soft curlicues. This segue marks the beginning of a transition, where Korber’s sounds become more pronounced, and Julian’s electronic undertones take on a more subtle, drone-like bent. In the continuing development, the duo doesn’t use much beyond a handful of chosen patches/motifs, all quite complimentary to another, and sustaining the general mood.
I’m reminded of some of Oren Ambarchi’s earlier meditative work, and the piece here seems to express how such music has really evolved. Making use of near-silence (or hushed lulls) and a carefully considered stereo field, the two have come up with something here that can hardly be called “harsh”. Korber and Julian have a certain mastery of nuance, and it’s interesting to hear their approaches blend. No overkill, and nicely understated, through to a slow, dramatic fade. (Alan Jones, Bagatellen)
Si c’était un blind-test, je dirais Oren Ambarchi… et je me planterais puisqu’il s’agit d’une collaboration entre Tomas Korber et monsieur Cheapmachines. C’est encore un sans-faute pour Con-V, qui mine de rien se construit un catalogue impressionnant au fil du temps.