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by Lukas Simonis
Z6, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2006
Audio CD, 16 tracks, $9.99
Z6 3312.

Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen
Hogeschool Gent


In the course of many years of listening to classical, popular, experimental, strange, semi-weird and utterly weird recorded sounds, I had come to believe that nothing could really surprise me anymore. Now I met Lukas Simonis’ Stots. It shakes my belief, and it forces me to recategorise my experiences because until today I didn’t have a group of familiar-and-weird or recognisable-and-alien records or CD’s. So, you may ask, what happened? What is so special about Stots?

Superficially, the CD is structured like a rock album (Simonis has worked with a number of bands at the fringe of the rock scene), with 16 tracks of approximately 4’, each having its own title and identity. Its material is drawn from field recordings, voice, guitar and cello improvisations, electronics and every other conceivable source. The mixes aren’t especially exceptional. No extreme dynamics, no outlandish rhythms——as far as there is a rhythm——and no spectacular tempo. Most of the score, if there were one, would show the mezzofortes and andantes of a civilised conversation between very imaginative friends. And that defines exactly the atmosphere of this music. It is narrative and descriptive, speculative and conversational. And it is like an essay in the philosophy of music, not in prose but in actual sounding facts and statements. Translated in my own words, its theorems would be:
1) Listen to hear. If you don’t listen, you will simply not hear what is on the record. It vanishes.
2) Be aware that what you hear is something else than what someone else hears and more specifically, differs from what the composer heard.
3) Construct your own meaning. E.g. do not take the meaning I assign to the sounds on this album for granted.
4) Do not feel surprised when you hear in a batch of foreign language sounds phonemes that you recognise as coming from your own tongue; as if, in the middle of a Japanese phrase, you suddenly hear a few English (or in my case: Dutch) words.

According to Lukas Simonis, the point of departure for making the whole song cycle was the conscious misunderstanding of language, coming from the idea that you can never say exactly the same thing in a different language (so ‘I love you’ means something else than je ‘t aime’). In my opinion, he has absolutely succeeded in conveying that message, even if he had to use the most ambiguous of all languages to get it across.



Updated 1st September 2007

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