All About Jazz - Akira Rabelais "Spellewauerynsherde"

07.07.05

Spellewauerynsherde is the third release by LA-based composer, sound explorer, and music software inventor Akira Rabelais. His fascination with sound and several sonic explorations led him to create music software such as Argeïphontes Lyre, which is also favored by artists such as Terre Thaemlitz and Scanner. The program itself has several features with mysterious titles like Eviscerator Reanimator, Time Domain Mutation, Morphological Disintegration, Verwechslung Kaffeetass, and The Lobster Quadrille, and is normally used for sound treatments and alterations. Beautifully packaged with a Byzantine Icon on the front cover and an intriguing poem (the cut-up method), this release is based upon location recordings of Icelandic voices he accidentally found on some reel-to-reel machine.

Anyway, his approach is what makes a difference; the real essence of this disc comes from the sound design, mixing, and processing. He either heavily processes the voices or leaves them intact, then subjects them to unusual treatments to create a soundscape which is, paradoxically, dense, bleak, and dark yet open. In doing so, he subverts one’s expectations of musical structure. The pieces build gradually and move at a slow pace, creating a subtle and mysterious elixir of strange effects and textures. The titles of the tracks are related to historical figures such as John Wyclif (”1382 Wyclif. Gen. ii.7”), William Caxton (”1483 Caxton Golden Leg. 208b/2”), and William Cuningham (”1559 W. Cuningham Cosmogr. Glasse 125”). The final track refers to John Milton and his work Samson Agonistes (”1671 Milton Samson 1122”).

Spellewauerynsherde is a strangely beautiful mixture of contemporary sounds and found voices that resemble early music or Gregorian chants. There is something seductively poetic about this mixture as the sounds slowly descend throught minimalistic textures. It is nearly overwhelming in its mystic ambience, and there are plenty of rewards for patient listeners.

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