Isolated Irritation is Helmut Schäfer's second solo album (he has also collaborated with Zbigniew Karkowski, among others). It consists mostly of a live set from Mills College (Oakland, CA), October 10, 2001. The 36-minute performance takes the form of a digital sonic onslaught. The piece roars relentlessly, letting small changes unfold in the background, almost out of reach of the listener's saturated ears. Analog electronics (like effect boxes) seem to be used alongside the inevitable laptop and the result sounds very much like Karkowski's collaborations with Masami Akita (aka Merzbow) in MAZK. Compared to the label Post-Concrete's other releases, this album is somewhat brutal in its maximalism. Noise doesn't exclude craftsmanship and detail; track two is a shorter "remix" of the Mills performance and proceeds from much quieter pastures to full-scale noise, always remaining less dense and more varied in textures. Schäfer is skilled, but his album offers little grip. A bit clinical, lacking something in dynamics or structure that would encourage some involvement from the listener, it doesn't leave a lasting impression. Which doesn't mean that it is bad, just that it demands more than it rewards.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture