Janek Schaefer

Pulled Under

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Janek Schaefer released Pulled Under, the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, Above Buildings, on his own audiOh! label. A lot less beat-oriented and more textural and electro-acoustic (i.e., musique concrète) in nature, this CD takes the listener on a mesmerizing journey. The cover artwork pictures the silhouette of a man falling into what appears to be a rift of the Grand Canyon. The image suits the music very well: Listeners plunge into an alternate reality, in slow motion. During the fall, there is time to look at the cliffs and the morphing birds flying back -- much like Lewis Carroll's character Alice falling into the rabbit hole. Schaefer still uses his self-devised turntables, but his mastery has grown to the point that one doesn't notice the tools anymore. Except for an occasional segment of surface noise or a tone arm bouncing around (in "Rapid Xativa"), this could all be computer work or lo-fi electronics. Being able to "forget" Schaefer's instrument of choice is a plus. Once you stop trying to figure out his vinyl sources or how the textures are achieved, you can make it to a deeper level of the fall. Buried in the artist's resounding rooms (not unlike John Duncan's beautiful Palace of Mind), listeners can wander about, completely lost in this world where no reference point is solid enough to hold on to. "Parallel Spoor" and "Sienna" are highlights, but the biggest surprise is "Lithospheric Shifts." On the Sub Rosa compilation Floating Foundation, Vol. 1, it felt weak and thin in content. This new edit, slightly remixed, finds its perfect place in the context of Pulled Under. Highly recommended, although fans of his first album will need to make a leap of faith.