Art by Cysquatch
Writing in 1626, Francis Bacon described “…sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds and their generation… we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds… We have all means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.” (The New Atlantis).The manipulation of sounds, found or manufactured, into the futuristic and new is an impulse that has accompanied the musical urge, it would seem, for hundreds of years. It motivated Luigi Russolo to build his intonarumori at the turn of the last century: these were huge horns attached to boxes, the full set of which would fill a large room. In performances with classical orchestras after the first World War, Russolo elevated his mechanical tinkering into something that might have been the first true electronic music. Around the same time, Igor Stravinsky released his “Le Sacre Du Printemps,” a piece widely thought to be a cornerstone in musicological development.
Lately Stefan Goldmann has been serving up genre-melting house, tech, and dub-tinged excursions that have varied from tepidly engaging to wildly good. With a re-edit of Stravinsky’s 1913 piece, delivered on his Macro imprint, Goldmann has taken a clear stab at flinging himself beyond the ranks of those creative in a scene, towards the likes of Stravinsky and Russolo. His “Sacre du Printemps” interpretation is befuddling on first listen. Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald’s “Recomposed” took famous classical music and wholly remade it electronically. Goldmann opts for a bolder route: He uses samples from fourteen performances of Stravinsky and cuts them into what the press release assures is no fewer than 147 segments, brushing them ever so lightly in his studio, and stitching them back together into an eighteen minute version all his own.
The obvious question, then: is it any good? The answer, I think, is yes. Goldmann’s edit combines subtle layers of tone in ways that jar and frustrate, because no orchestra should be able to combine them in one sitting. Goldmann’s track is creepy. The familiar feeling of hearing an orchestra perform, subverted minute by minute by a collision of sounds that shouldn’t quite be with one another, gets under the skin. Whether it does more than this is probably a matter of interpretation. To some, Goldmann’s efforts here might pale in comparison to any one of the fourteen recordings he samples in their unmolested versions. For me, though, the wonderfully subtle feeling of standing on wobbly ground Goldmann creates here is a real treat. If you prefer the original way of doing things, he’s included two of the classic recordings he’s used. But for those that want a track made with a hint of Stravinsky and Russolo’s brave approach, it’s all about the remix.