Bernhard Günter


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The term "split CD" simply doesn't do justice to Japan, even though it presents pieces by both Bernhard Günter and Steve Roden. The two have been instrumental in the development of lowercase sound art; the juxtaposition of their work feels natural and, to an extent, complementary. "Particles/Waves (For Steve Roden)" brings up the usual dilemma for the listener of Günter's music, maybe even more acutely this time. You basically have two choices: Either you turn the volume up (way up!) to hear comfortably what the composer did, or you accept the fact that the piece is intended to flicker at the threshold of audibility. Whatever your decision, you'll need to listen a few times. A faint hum can be heard in the background throughout, like the ghost image of hills standing right on the horizon line, waiting to break free -- that would be the "waves" part. More in front, contact microphones are heard as they are manipulated episodically -- yes, the particles. Roden's two pieces can be more immediately appreciated. "Every Color Moving" pairs bowed strings with the distinctive plucking of an East Asian instrument of the koto/guzheng family. A drone gradually advances to the forefront, eventually reaching a point where it almost absorbs the other sounds. It may appear simple, but it works very nicely, in a soothing way, after the previous track. "Eden (For T. Maloney)" follows a similar introspective mood, with long tones that are probably derived from strings and a slow, recurring, and insistent low-register pulse. This is intriguing music for the open-minded listener, like all releases on Trente Oiseaux, but Günter's doesn't rank among his essentials.

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