Mort aux Vaches: Random Dilletants

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Record collectors usually ask that an LP or CD be scratchless. In the case of this album, they'll be asking that its cover be unscratched. Yep. The three-panel cardboard case of Mort aux Vaches: Random Dilettantes comes entirely covered in that grey stuff you scratch off on a "scratch and win" lottery ticket. And if you want to know the recording details and musician lineup, you'll just have to scratch it off. That said, there is more to this album than its highly unusual packaging. It features the members of the Zeitkratzer ensemble (Alexander Frangenheim, Reinhold Friedl, Franz Hautzinger, Ulrich Krieger, Ulrich Maiss, Johannes Platz, Melvyn Poore, Luca Venitucci, and Adam Weisman) trading places. Friedl's 50-part, 48-minute composition is split into eight main "movements" (for lack of a better term), and in the course of the whole piece each musician will have played the eight instruments of his colleagues without touching his own. These are professional musicians turned dilettantes for a while and listeners are invited to play the album on random mode, hence the title. Friedl's score (assuming there is one) focuses on dynamics and textures rather than pitch. The music drones in short outbursts. Each musician's palette being limited in different ways on each instrument, the music keeps taking new forms without ever really breaking its mold. It gets a bit tedious in the long run, but still makes an intriguing listen, and it definitely works better if you approach it as a sound installation (as the liner notes suggest) or as a conceptual work.