by Logos Publiek Domein
Gent, Belgium, 2005
CD, LPD 014, €15.00
Distributors website: http://www.logosfoundation.org.
by Nikolai Galen
Voice of Shade: Stemme 8, PK 282, Byoglu,
Istanbul, 34433, Turkey
Distributors website: http://www.voiceofshade.net.
Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher
Saginaw Valley State University, University
Center MI 48710 USA
Is music foremost an exudation of the
human body, or the product of some kind
of human-designed machine or instrument?
Two nude figurescomposers?of
a man and a woman, like northern Renaissance
Adam and Eve, stand in front of robotic
machinery and gaze at us from the cover
of <Robodies> to raise the question.
The drum rolls and sirens in Kristof Lauwers
"Plastic Deformations" evoke
Edgar Varèse and the Worlds
Fair at Brussels in 1958; not that far
from Gent, is it? Godfried-Willem Raes
"Gestrobo Studies" robotizes
tinkling dollhouse celeste and glass wind
chimes in a manner that appears unstructured
in the first couple listenings. Moniek
Darges "Klanklagen IV"
is more naturalistic; I wasnt sure
I was hearing the birdhouse at the zoo
as night falls, or a robotic composition
enhanced with avian titter heard through
open windows. What might be uninteresting
in concert enlivens when combined with
the ambient noises of a summer day.
Jelle Menander must tire of reviewers
making "jelly meanders" jokes
of his music, so this one wont.
His 14:25 "Amorgos" offers the
sounds of bells, tin cans, hollering.
Subsequent parts were so quiet, I thought
perhaps the CD was over. The pace picking
up, the listener envisions a distracted
toddler in a gamelan practice room, his
uncles huffing exhortations Hah!
Huh! Hunh! and then their monklike chanting.
The CD proceeds with two Godfried-Willem
Raes compositions. Sirens! Its 1958
The CD called Emanuel Wigeland contains
35 tracks of improvised singing by a solo
performer, the singer Nikolai Galen. In
their variety the tracks could serve as
a daily regimen of vocal exercises, rigorous
as the "extra-difficult" Tai
Chi workout that wiry rock singer
Iggy Pop supposedly performs daily to
keep himself in shape.
Galen found inspiration in a long chamber
of murals by artist Emanuel Vigeland at
the edge of Oslo, Norway. I wish these
murals were reproduced on the CD cover,
though the blurry photographs by Yasmin
Erchin of figures walking in the woods
do imply whistling past a graveyard, as
do some of the tracks. One wonders, does
Galen focus on specific characters in
the murals? On their erotics? Does he
feel fear? We are informed and advised
"Recorded in the dark, listen in
One hears Galens avowed influence
of Tuvan throat singing, as well as clicks
and tut-tuts, whimpers and gasps, buzzing
and humming, dog calls, yodels and long
notes in absurd ostinato. The singer paints
a winos nightmare then a shepherds
mornng song. Galen makes Tom Waits grumble,
before launching into prayerlike litanies,
then sounds like a baby. He gives voice
to the Vigeland crypts octogenarian
caretaker, then the fabled Gnomes of Zurich
counting their money.
One could argue its only the limitations
of these artists, but both of these projects
ultimately show the isolation of either
a dutifully-programmed robot orchestra
or an improvisational voice. Machines
are less interesting when by themselves
than they are when enabling and serving
human achievement. It is the interaction
between flesh and fabriken that
often offers creative dialectic and tension.
Id like to hear Logos Robot
Orchestra and Nikolai Galen play together,
the roboticists riffing off live musicians,
and the voice weaving its way around the