Saturday, January 17, 2009

Strafe für Rebellion: Vögel

1989 Touch Music
London, England

Germany has always handed us a myriad of remarkable, unique and unexplainable musicians throughout the years. Prog, electronic, space rock, techno, punk, industrial - none of these genres would be complete without a chapter in their book about how this German band or that German band perfected the genre and left the playing field an impossible-to-navigate minefield for all others who tried to attempt it. This seems to apply right down to albino pop music (but I will save Heino for another day).

To be the best of a genre is one thing, but to actually manage to rise above multiple genres, sound itself, philosophy and ideology and strike your place as masterful sound artists and manipulators of field recordings in a truly post-Cageian fashion, yet not dull your accessibility with academia, is a beautiful achievement. Strafe für Rebellion has stood out for the better part of 25 years in their sound accomplishments. With their ability to paint entrancing landscapes of sound from bits of wire and foam and birds and trains and squeaky wheels, the engulf a listener in a world, or universe unlike any we are used to, in which every step through it carries a small bit of joy, fear, trepidation, chaos, and infinite beauty.

Strafe für Rebellion's 1989 compilation Vögel contains pieces dating back almost ten years into the ensembles past. The duo of Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga have existed since 1979. Over the course of several albums, they have developed a style of abstract instrumental music that owes a lot to their use of home-made instruments, found objects and field recordings. In the 1993 interview with Brian Duguid, they described their musical techniques as follows:

"As you probably know we do not use any electronic music instruments. We do not condemn electronic music instruments at all, it is just not our approach. One central aspect of our work is the use of field recordings, either wild or domesticated animals, machines and all kinds of noises that we think are peculiar in some way. We go searching for sounds during trips, we occasionally find them or we consciously go looking for special sounds (visiting a zoo, for example). When we do field recordings already some compositional elements come into being - they go beyond the pure documentary sounds and beyond the quality of our normal archive. We also use 'normal' music instruments and 'prepare' them, there are also self-made music instruments or noise machines. But we never use anyone else's pre-recorded sounds; we have never used samplers nor rhythm machines."

Oddly enough this particular compilation contains cover versions of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and "Walking After Midnight" as well as Leonard Cohen's "Sister's of Mercy". At first these covers are indiscernable, however, they slowly unfold into what may be the most unique interpretations of any pre-existing song ever attempted.

Enjoy listening to Vögel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome music, thank u!