Hons Ferner Liefen Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Tom Waits mees electronica meets musique concrete in the debut from Hons.

Peter Marsh 2002

It may be stating the obvious to say that Germany has a fine tradition of experimental music, but with a few exceptions (the mighty Workshop, for example) there's been little in the last few years that's hinted at the sounds of surprise that a band like Faust were capable of at their peak. Hons (pretty much a one man show) bucks the trend here with what the press release calls 'a love story in eight parts'.

Though constructed on a PC and liberally sprinkled with the usual DSP tricks, Ferner Liefen's sound sources are often left to be themselves; a toy piano played against the sound of traffic; a hesitantly melancholic Satie-esque piano alone in a large room peeks through billowing clouds of white noise. Occasionally fragments of speech or even songs emerge; Gilbert Handler's filtered vocal spins ironic tales of complex emotional detachment over fuzzed out industrial rock n' roll guitar or sparse, dubby electronica; "Im waiting for God to kick sand in my face; this won't be any fun at all", he deadpans.

"Mit Horn" processes a massed fog of trombones over distressed beats into a overripe ten minute slab of perverted jazz techno. Lovely. "My Fridge is Empty" imagines Tom Waits trapped in an electroacoustic collage remixed by Pole, while "Shielded With Ease" does the same with an almost motorik groove driven by distorted acoustic guitar chugs. Here, Hons alludes to the rich Krautrock heritage of Can, Neu! and the like without descending into imitation.

Ferner Liefen is more of a cinematic experience in the German Horspiel (sound play) tradition than anything else; throughout Hons zooms out, in, dissolves and jumpcuts between different acoustic spaces and environments with consummate skill. Like a cross between Heiner Goebbels, Faust and Luc Ferrari, Ferner Liefen beguiles, suprises, irritates and seduces. Worth checking out.

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