Sabine Ercklentz: trumpet, electronics
Andrea Neumann: inside piano, electronics
LAlienation is about as fun an eai record can be. One of the first things people notice is the odd cover art (above) with Erklentz and Neumann in some sort of marine camo. I think such things rarely generate a net positive or negative reaction. That is, although the cover certainly doesn’t fit the typical eai release, all seriousness and simplicity, it also is weird enough to draw in people fans outside of that niche. Still, I doubt there are too many people that don’t know the artists involved who will give this record a chance because of the quirky presentation.
Even if the art didn’t hint at a sense of humor, the music inside will. Erklentz isn’t a name that I know, although she may be involved in some collaborative works I’ve heard, but Neumann is a mainstay of the scene, and her work usually projects seriousness common to the genre. This isn’t to say this particular record isn’t serious in the sense that it is surely a smart, artistic set of tracks. But there is a devious smirk at play, a “listen to this shit” kind of attitude that isn’t a regular trait of the average eai session. In fact, while the lineup and aesthetic is truly eai, after a little bit listening to this in the car for the first time, I swore this was the first eai-industrial hybrid I’d ever heard. The best parts sound of the old, ugly ’80s variant of industrial that is random noises patched together to make a completely undanceable groove combined with some spice from Cage’s prepared piano pieces.
This groove has been something that has been debated in the few reviews I’ve seen for LAlienation. I think this divergence from the eai template, given how accessible it makes the record, confuses some listeners. Not that they don’t understand the record, but they don’t know what to make of it. I like it for this very reason. eai doesn’t have to be clinical, and it doesn’t have to be minimal in every sense. There are no rules to music, and this pair’s willingness to invigorate the familiar sounds of eai with a pulse is commendable. It is serious in the way Throbbing Gristle is serious. That is to say, high art in spite of itself.
The recording quality on this record is immaculate. You can really hear all the textures, and all the placement of sounds seems to be well considered. All the little details are magnified in that special way that makes microtonal gestures psychedelic in a way (think about it: sounds and their sources recognizable, but distorted and in odd proportion). With everything in the right spot, the tracks breathe, progress from station to station, and become distinctive.
So, you should take a relatively small chance on LAlienation, especially given how big of a chance it is to defy the strict expectations of the free improv listening community. This record is fun, different, and still delivers on all the things that make eai/microtonal/improv so satisfying. (from KILLEDinCARS)
2010 LALIENATION (rapidshare/mediafire)