Rolf Julius

(Halb) Schwarz

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German composer Rolf Julius is also known as a sound sculpture artist and listening to this excellent disc, one could easily imagine being immersed in a fluctuating, electronically humming space, filled with mysterious and evocative whistles, twitterings, and thrums. Julius' pieces have a denseness and corporeality that imbues them, despite their mechanical origins, with a complicatedly organic quality. He apparently uses a great deal of "low-grade," non-state-of-the-art components, in the manner of improvisers like Voice Crack. But it's just this approach that gives his music a patina of rough, fascinating textures rather than gloss. There are rhythms generated by loops but nothing in a regular pattern; there are subtle fragments that come this close to being melodies but shy away at the last instant. If anything, one might compare (Halb) Schwarz sonically to David Tudor's Rainforest, with an equal sense of enormous activity in an enclosed space. The performances, created over a decade, are similar enough to form a solid corpus, though each has its own character, from the underlying threatening tones of "Für die Erde" to the glistening, darkly ethereal shards of "Musik für den Blick Nach Oben." This is engrossing, abstract electronic music and is highly recommended.

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