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dieb13 / castello / roisz / stangl: scuba

dieb13 / castello / sroisz / stangl: scuba mikroton 2014

sjbang review:

Angélica Castelló/Billy Roisz/Burkhard Stangl/Dieb 13 - Scuba (Mikroton)
A work written by Dieb 13 and performed by Castelló (amplified subcontrabass paetzold recorder, electronics), Roisz (electronics), Stangl (electric guitar) and the composer (turntables, klopfer--unless that's a German soft drink, I'm confused; but image google paetzold recorders for some cool pictures).
I haven't been a huge fan of much of what I've heard from Dieb 13 in recent years, so I approached this release with some degree of caution, but I'm happy to report that it won me over completely. A piece composed along a timeline which also gives the players room for improvisation, the overall sound does indeed evoke the underwater world, particularly via the enormous recorder wielded by Castelló, Stangl's lovely if limited guitar chimes acting as glints seen up on the surface. The whole piece is very understated, various elements, including voices (some reciting numbers as in old East German coded radio transmissions) floating slowly through, glimpsed and then reabsorbed by the sea. There's even a fairly visceral depiction of air intake through a breathing tube, augmented by a hiss (other apparatus) and the odd ping (passing fauna). It's all quite coherent and deftly executed; whatever the parameters were, excellent choices seem to have been made by composer and performers alike, always leaving a thread, never overburdening it. It possesses that wonderful quality of staying in one place yet being endlessly, subtly different. A happy surprise for me, thoroughly absorbing, and one I highly recommend checking out.
-- brian olewnick
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sjbang review:

ya gotta have guts to buy this noise -- SJ Bang - Kansas City, Missouri
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This long-standing quartet of Vienna-based musicians now tackles "Scuba," a piece by Dieb13. It is, the album cover states, one of his "timeline" compositions, though I honestly have very little idea of what that concept might entail. Much of the music is of the rapid-fire interactive type that European improvisers have long favored, but, in keeping with a 21st century aesthetic, the soundworld is shot through with electronic and acoustic timbres in something approaching equal balance.

As with much of the music coming from the Berlin school, if there really is one, this is a piece of angles, sudden shifts and unequal sections. The whole thing pops and fizzes into life as if some sort of huge needle were placed on the rim of a gigantic record. As for individual presences throughout the forty-one minute work, those that stand out to these ears are Stangl and Dieb13. A few guitar notes here and there signal some kind of coming to terms with an archetypal past, as do the many disembodied voices and speech fragments, presumably courtesy of Dieb13 but possibly contributed by others in the group. Some of Stangl's work is even tremoloed as he rages and punks out nearly half-way through. Then, there are moments of remarkable delicacy; rustlings, the simply yet poignant sounds of something stroked being captured at close range, pervade the music's second half. By the time the opening material returns, in modified form, at the work's conclusion, the entire sonic spectrum has been traversed.

This is a deep yet baffling journey, and I can't help but wish that some explanation of the methodology had been included, which would have made comprehension a bit easier to come by. Yet, for the sonically intrepid, there are times when nothing but this kind of in-your-face exploration will do.

-- Marc Medwin
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