KURT LIEDWART & PETR VRBAPunkt
PHYSICAL | CD
Mikroton Shop €12 Metamkine Squidco
Mikroton Shop €7 iTunes
Petr Vrba explores non-idiomatic improvisation using trumpets, clarinets, vibrating speakers and other electronics which made him one of the most active experimental musicians in Prague. He works with a lot of projects like Prague Improvisation Orchestra, Poisonous Frequencies, NOIZ, Doppeltrio, Rouilleux and Junk & The Beast. “Punkt” is his second release on Mikroton following “Trailer” with Veronika Mayer released in 2017.
Kurt Liedwart, a Moscow-based musician and curator of Mikroton Recordings, developed his own art and sound that cross genres, mixing music practices such as electroacoustic and improvised music, noise and glitch, and art movements such as actionism and Fluxus. He plays a wide-ranging array of instruments such as analog synthesizers, electronics, light-controlled electronics, electromagnetic devices, laptop, sinewaves, field recordings, percussion processed electronically in real time.
“Punkt” is a debut album of the new duo of explorers of free electronic music with each track built upon a permutating sonic foundation, muscular and expertly paced compositions that effortlessly transition between hypnotic abstract structural forms and textural and timbral experimentation.
Mikroton labelboss Kurt Liedwart is an active force himself when it comes to playing music, as he proofs with this trilogy of releases. First he teams up with Czech musician Petr Vrba, who is also a busy bee when it comes to playing music on the border of improvisation and electro-acoustics. He takes credit here for 'synthesizers, electronics' while Liedwart handles 'synthesizers, cracked homemade and everyday electronics'. For Vrba it seems to a step aside from his usual set-up that includes trumpets and clarinets. There is no indication on the cover here if this is all studio material or perhaps some kind of live recording. The two have been on stage together at least a few times, as far as I know. I would think that these six pieces are the result of them playing together in a studio, with some editing and mixing after the recordings have been made. These pieces sum up what especially Liedwart is about in his work and with his label in general. There are probably good reasons to call this improvised music, and no doubt much of this is recorded through improvisation, but it is also something else. Enter the world of electro-acoustic composition. These pieces aren't about scratching and scraping a lot of different sounds together, with nothing resembling whatever else happens. It is more than that I should think, as they keep repeating sounds for a while, add new stuff to it, repeat that for a while, remove stuff and together arrive at a somewhat free version of modern electronics. Rhythm is in general avoided, but there is an occasional beat in 'Hot Spot' and loops are freely used throughout the whole album. These pieces are much more composed than improvised, even in the somewhat chaotic 'Dusted', and it works wonderfully well. Whatever way this was made, I suspect indeed editing and mixing, it makes the music quite strong.
Punkt (mikroton cd 69)? Weil Klang bei KURT LIEDWART & PETR VRBA undefinierbar und axiomatisch klingt? Der Tscheche fingert da statt mit Trompete & Klarinette (wie bei Junk & The Beast oder Poisonous Frequencies) ebenfalls nur mit Synthies & Electronics, so dass offen bleibt, wer hier was kratzt oder flattern lässt im brausenden Vordergrund oder als Synthieklingklang weiter hinten. 'Dusted' ist insofern der sprechendste der sechs Titel. Brodeliges und dumpf stampfendes Mahlwerk und impulsiver Partikelbeschuss, rumorende Vibra-/Vrbationen und mulmig lurchende Schloops, sorry, schlurchende Loops stoßen eher postindustrialkakophone Konnotationen an als träumerisch-ambiente und eher irdische als außerirdische. Glissandierend und heulend, tropfend und hallend, bei 'Hot Spot' geradezu harmonisch-sonor und auf der Tonleiter liedwärts, mit dazu floppenden Tupfen. Bei 'Flowering' zu tockendem Loop und zuckenden und wieder brodeligen Impulsen sogar noch einen Tick melodischer 'orgelnd'. Sirrend, funkelig zwitschernd, eifrig sägend oder stampfend, dunkel wummernd, wellig ululierendes fehlen die adäquaten Worte für diese Xenophonie, die das 'Fabrik'-Bild längst durchkreuzt hat für phantastischere Irritationen. 'Call Me' reißt zuletzt mit in mikrofaunische Mysterien, mit dunklen und zirpigen Lauten, über die critterndes Chaos hereinbricht und jenseits stechender und prickeliger Pixel eine panische Stampede.
Punkt (MIKROTON CD 69) is a superb set of edgy, creepy electronic music from the pairing of Kurt Liedwart (the Mikroton label boss) and Petr Vrba. Never was a more inspired team-up, if your end goal is to savour results as substantial and chunky as these. Embracing all possible stylistic elements that make sense in the context of dense textual electro-weaving, these two bats flap their greasy wings while venturing airborne into turfs such as minimal avant techno, gloomy gothic melodies, trudging near-industrial marches into Hell, and controlled noise collisions and smashes. At the same time they also crunch, drone, fizz and glitch with the best of the grapes in the bunch, not neglecting precious seconds of “old school” pweeps and analog-inspired echo-bursts that transport us to 1950s Paris at the flick of a jackplug.
Synths and electronics were used to concoct this slicing jugger-beast, while the Russian half of the act has pinched the famed “cracked homemade everyday” epithet from veteran noiser Norbert Möslang and applied it to his own setup. Prague musician Petr Vrba, now revealed to be a man of stern eyebrows and sullen gaze, started quite a panic with the Trailer album he made for this label with Veronika Mayer (heard by us in 2018), where they appeared as Junk & The Beast. No prizes for guessing which one he was in the duo. That item had sparky energy waves emanating from its twitchy brow, but was also highly spare and minimal, whereas Punkt is quite the opposite, given these generous dollobs of scabbery flunge on today’s plate. Never a dull membrane is the motto of this pair…even the title might be taken as a futuristic update on punk rock of the 1970s and 1980s, only now the electronica boys have figured out how to antagonise the audience using keyboards and mixing desks instead of gobs and guitars. The main thing that counts is the “punky” attitude, which enables these surly brutes to deliver powerful clumps. Even the cover art has a strong urban vibe which should whisk you back to 1979 Manchester in your mind (although given images of trams, it’s more likely to be modern-day Prague).
“A permutating sonic foundation, muscular and expertly paced compositions,” is how label website gets the prospective customer salivating for this particular slice of red ham. Keyword for me personally in that string of hype is “muscular”, which fits well the iron-clad zinc-boned nature of this wiry, obstinate material. Will use what’s left over to refit my chicken coop, if you know what I mean. From 30th October 2018.