Sunday, 28 December 2014

Felix Kubin - Chromdioxidgedächtnis (Gagarin Records)


"I've only just..."

"I've only just" are reassuring words, aren't they?...reminders that you're not the only one in the world who isn't absolutely on top of all that's fresh, interesting and, dare I say, hip (I can't because it's been hijacked by observers of, if not actual wearers of, Beards In Britain (surely a band name soon)) - whereas hip-ster used to mean...oh, never mind, ask Harry...

I doubt that Felix Kubin cares much about being hip; a purveyor of perverse Pop and twisted Techno, he's too wayward for that. I've only just discovered how great he is thanks to Gagarin Records' release of Chromdioxidgedächtnis. You know how one thing leads to another and another and another and before you know it in the click/connect world you've traversed several tangential zones or, in this case, albums. The good thing about "I've only just" is the joy of discovery in the rear-view mirror of time/recordings.

"Hello? Is it me you're looking for?" Kubin calls to me through the various portals...brilliantly flipping Lionel Ritchie's saccharine schmaltz Pop classic (!) into existential (?) narcissistic self-analysis...


...he's looking at the man in the mirror...perhaps all this searching we do is about looking for ourselves, in the end...things that define us...

Chromdioxidgedächtnis revels in/exploits/honours the tape cassette better than most things I've heard since the ol' gang of Cage, Schaeffer et al first exploited it's possibilities. The chromium dioxide memory ain't what it used to be for some of us....but we still might have a few examples stashed away....memories of the medium baring ancient messages, mixes or, in my case, a few recordings of my 'live' poetry readings. Yes, it's fashionable again (what isn't?) - the cassette, that is, not poetry readings. On sharing blogs and Bandcamp pages you'll find it's flickering, fragile flame still burning. I wonder how many new buyers of cassettes have suffered the same problem us originals did when the tape tried to eat itself...and we had to try to rewind (insert pencil) in order to salvage the sound.

Kubin salvages/samples all manner of sounds, from voicemail messages to Soul (When A Man Loves A Woman trapped in dioxide time) - collaged sounds from the archive which William Burroughs would have approved of, I'm sure ("Is this machine recording?"). The fact that this idea's nothing new doesn't detract from the sound choices Kubin makes as old rhythm machines surface, somnambulist ambient melancholia drifts and the music of tape mechanics constantly reminds us of the apparatus involved. Loops, static...all that noise that memories make, Kubin re/creates a compelling sound world, a reflection of fractured modernist life. It was once the exciting, newness of it all that inspired composers. If we now listen through the funnel of nostalgia the experience is still a fascinating one when the sounds are arranged so skilfully.

Gagarin



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