Janek Schaefer

Black Immure

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Equal parts sound installation, conceptual piece, and live performance, Black Immure was presented at the Casa de Serralves in Porto, Portugal, on June 29, 2002. A luxurious location in all aspects, the Casa is said to have a fantastic natural reverb and sits among the landscaped gardens of the Museu de Arte Contemporanea Serralves. Janek Schaefer decided to use both of these elements for a site-specific piece. Prior to the performance he recorded various sounds in the building, including a few melodies on the Steinway piano. During the performance he mixed those with electronics and records he found in a Portuguese thrift shop. The title comes from the fact that he also shut blinds and windows as the music progressed, trapping the audience in darkness. As the music evaporated on its own, he ran into the gardens, leaving the applause to provide the coda of the work. The music remains very ambient throughout the hour of its duration, oscillating between orchestrated field recordings and atmospheric vinyl treatments. Some passages are a bit awkward, especially when Schaefer introduces vinyl quotes in a more direct manner -- they interrupt the mood. Otherwise, he put the natural reverb to good use. He seems to approach the location with the utmost respect, which translates into music of an almost ceremonial nature, calm and immersing. Very different from his shorter composed pieces, this improvisation is somewhat gentler on the listener, even though it requires a longer attention span.