Live improvisation mutated into electro-acoustic techno by sound sculptor Lutz Glandien.
Bill Tilland 2002
Those of us not intimately familiar with modern recording studio techniques can only shake our heads in wonderment at the origin, evolution and ultimate result of Glandien's work on this CD.
Raw material for Glandien's manipulations comes 90% from a failed 1997 studio session with Chris Cutler (drums) and Michael Vogt (tuba), with Glandien supplying additional percussion, electronics and Midi guitar at the time. The participants judged the results a failure, and while the live concert the next day was pronounced a success, it was not recorded.
The 5th Elephant offers precious few clues as to what the group actually sounded like, because Glandien's subsequent deconstruction and reconstruction of the tapes over an ensuing three year period leaves virtually nothing intact. The music has become almost completely electroacoustic, with drums, guitar, and tuba sonically distorted to such an extent that no recognizable timbres remain save for an occasional touch of conventional percussion and something that sounds a bass trombone on one later track (obviously the tuba).
The other 10% of the source material comes from some processed voices, low frequency rumbles and "atmospherics" supplied by Glandien after the fact.
Although not exactly a household name outside of Germany, Glandien has had success in a wide variety of musical forms, from experimental electroacoustic to symphonic, and from rock to ambient. Such experience serves him well on this CD, as he uses ambient and techno forms as a springboard for something more complex and challenging, mixing in elements of electroacoustic, industrial and trance.
On several tracks, including the startlingly visceral opener, "Show Tools," Glandien produces rhythms by interrupting steady streams of noise (white, pink and otherwise), producing the disorienting effect of rhythm struggling to escape from sonic chaos rather than being imposed upon silence.
Glandien's use of rhythm is pronounced but slippery throughout; it stutters, stops and starts, and mutates, never settling into a predictable groove. The rhythmic elements are mixed adroitly with other ear candy - eerie reversed voices, a single chanted syllable, electronic murmurs and howls.
Influences and references are almost too numerous to mention, but Glandien is clearly well-schooled in the work of the pioneering French electroacoustic school - Bernard Parmigiani, Guy Reibel, Pierre Henry, Luc Ferarri, Pierre Schaeffer, Francois Bayle, and so on. But some of the more accessible music on the CD could just as easily have been rendered by Klaus Schulze, Autechere or Meat Beat Manifesto.
Glandien really occupies the best of both worlds, and he's able to inject some complexity and individuality into techno without divesting it of its emotive power. In other words, he's a popularizer who isn't slumming, and who doesn't talk down to his audience. Recommended.