Three years after completing his Trans series, Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto) launched a new series of five CDs entitled Xerrox, where the music is mostly constructed around copies of copies of copies of snippets of music. Volume 1 in this series, released in 2007, focuses on muzak, advertising jingles, soundtracks, and entertainment programs, although as a whole, once reassembled, the bits of music heard through the hiss and white noise feel classical in nature. That may be the explanation for the CD's subtitle "The Old World" (Volume 2 will be subtitled "To the New World"). In our society, the copy is disregarded in favor of the original, until the copy, after several generations of copying, acquires its own existence, separated from the original. That is the artistic process at play here, and of course it generates a lot of hiss and white noise, elements Nicolai plays gracefully with, atomizing them or using them as textural drones. The album consists of seven main hiss-focused pieces ranging from four to eleven minutes, and seven very short glitch interludes, 18 to 51 seconds long, acting as translations in time and space, almost like traveling shots carrying you from one scene to the next. Now all this talk about hiss might have you thinking of Xerrox as some kind of harsh noise record, but don't worry, this is actually one of Alva Noto's most accessible and quiet albums. In fact, it might take some fans aback with its delicate, lulling textures, and its total lack of a beat element. Alva Noto's fans are used to his squelettal rhythms and extremely minimalistic sound palette, but Xerrox is something completely different. If the artistic process behind the music is in tune with Nicolai's usual concerns, the results are closer to the music of Tim Hecker or Fennesz than to Alva Noto releases like Transpray and Unitxt. On a superficial level, the first volume of Xerrox is a fine, dreamy, although quite monotonous CD. If you dig deeper, you will find some fascinating playfulness with the act of copying. Still, the underpinning idea wears thin in the course of an hour.
AllMusic Review by François Couture