Thursday, 19 November 2015


"Cut-up as a drug that leads to a different relationship with language, just as a hallucinogen leads to an altered relation with the so-called reality. The result is a fundamental shift of meaning. 'Shift linguals' was the motto in a continuous process with an open end …" J.P.

Please fasten your seatbelts. Writer and spiritual brother to William Burroughs, Jürgen Ploog also happened to be a pilot for Lufthansa for 33 years. That fact alone makes him fascinating to me. I'd never heard of him until this album arrived but sadly, looking for his written work, there seems to be little in English.

Like Burroughs' tape work in the 60s, Ploog's plundering of worldwide noise offers a fascinating aural collage of radio and TV (?) voices, street noise etc. It's all selected and edited here by Robert Schalinski. Unless you speak German, much may not be understood, but that doesn't detract from this enjoyable disruption of the senses - bursts of radio music, chants, a discussion about Jimmy Giuffre (that, I did pick up), noise interference, Trad Jazz - turn the dial - flight details end Side One.

Side Two starts with noise, a siren's extended wail, American voices, English voices, Japanese (?), flight safety instructions (should cabin pressure drop), a whole world of sound. Ploog's pilot time adds a particular 'meaning' to all this sound-hopping, of course - as he flies, we fly with him, via jet engines and scissors. It's almost Schaeffer-like at times when unidentifiable sounds form part of the tapestry - musik beton! Buddhist rituals are given more time than anything else, not to the detriment of the two pieces, but as a calm passage of relief amid all the disruption, along with the sound of the sea lapping the shore and more chanting, a joyous "who-o-o-h!" ends the journey. We land on silence.

What was that all about? Whilst Burroughs saw great potential for social disruption by playing recordings he'd made at various events, putting the sonic hex on 'enemies', perhaps; destroying the narrative of everyday life, Ploog's recordings offer a more benign pleasure. Field recordings are interesting up to a point, but I find the construction, the collaging of these snippets far more interesting. Burroughs asked 'who decides what tapes play back in present time?'. You can, thanks to Jürgen Ploog and Robert Schalinski's splice of life.

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