Phonographics 1-5 is a 3" disc (clocking in at about 18 minutes) consisting of five improvisations by a quartet of some of the finest musicians operating around the Austrian free improv scene at the turn of the century. All are performing on electronic devices of one kind or another, although Dafeldecker may be tossing in the odd bass-derived sound and Siewert or Stangl something from their guitars. But, as befits the genre in which they operate, individual distinctions between players swiftly become meaningless; everything is channeled toward a group sound. The opening piece is, perhaps, surprisingly gentle, the drone that emerges in its later half verging on actual tunefulness. In fact, one could listen to much of this disc as a logical extension of the electronic experimentation engaged in by Eno in the '70s, a direction he failed to pursue. The insistent pulse of the second track and the industrially tinged atmospherics of the third are, likewise, both reasonably accessible to any listener who might otherwise be wary of the field. A recurring rhythmic pattern underlies whirring asides, percolating sputters, and rich "glitch-prov." Track four even has very subtle hints of jungle rhythms bubbling beneath the surface. As the low chime-like tones of the final piece recede in the distance and explode into a welter of bleeps and sizzles, it becomes apparent that Phonographics 1-5 may be one of the warmest, most approachable examples of electro-acoustic improvisations around and a superb place for the newcomer to the field to dip his or her toes.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick