Review: Chemiefaserwerk – Listening Stations (self-released, Feb 7)

The France-based tape label Falt is one of the leading entities in contemporary do-it-yourself experimentalism, releasing cassettes wrapped in 8.5×11 pieces of paper that contain a wide range of sound, from highly composed tape pieces to field recordings and even more abstract sources (check out the unusual techniques used to produce Phil Maguire’s Empty Damage for an example). After releasing several of his own recordings on Falt, label head Christian Schiefner (who releases music as Chemiefaserwerk) has begun an independent Bandcamp page for future works, with Listening Stations as its inaugural release. The four pieces provide a welcoming entry point into the ideas that Schiefner examines and evokes with his music, their reliance on the trademark hiss and slightly muffled acoustics of tape playback framing spectral drones and processed recordings. The tracks are subtitled with dates, presumably identifying when each was recorded, an element that introduces an interesting chronology between pieces. “For Midnight Circles” is memorable for its sustained rustling, a recognizable sonority that places the track somewhere between the familiar and unknown, while the untitled work that follows it delves deeper into subdued drones swathed in resonant mid-range frequencies. The title track presents a more fractured structure of tactile sound loops, a counterpoint to the sluggish, atonal collages of “Estaque.” With each release Schiefner seems to further refine his technique, steadily becoming more virtuosic in his stitchings of sound and noise; and therefore I couldn’t recommend following his new page more.

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