Bernhard Günter

Un Peu de Neige Salie

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Günter's first album brings together works from 1992 and 1993. The title of the album comes from one of his haiku: "elle fonderait/dans ma main.../un peu de neige salie" (roughly "it would melt in my hand -- a bit of soiled snow"). The first piece uses computer generated sounds, but all of the others display his use of samples, which is still his preferred type of sounds. All of the pieces collected here are subtle and reward careful listening, but as they are all extremely quiet, they can get lost in a noisy listening environment. Each piece uses silence very effectively, as well as unpitched drones and clicks. The clicks can be fast and rhythmic, as in "Untitled I/92," or varied and sounding like fireworks, as in "Untitled III/92." "Untitled II/92" and "Untitled IV/92" deal strictly with sustained tones, white noise, and delicate swirls of sound, and foreshadow Günter's more recent, Feldman-influenced pieces. "Untitled I/93" combines slow rhythmic clicks over white noise, a low drone, and quiet booms. When this album was first released in 1993, it was greeted with bewilderment, since at the time the direction of avant-garde music was anything but quiet. Even the original label executive and CD manufacturer called the artist to tell him the master tape was defective, nothing remaining but clicks and pops. But with the growing recognition of Morton Feldman's importance and the increasing awareness of John Cage's late works, known as the Number pieces (which are very quiet and serene), over the course of the 1990s, this album isn't the shocker it once was. Nevertheless, the pieces remain as interesting and challenging as they were in 1993.

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