Marc Behrens – ‘Apparatus’ [Review]

Stalwart experimentalist Marc Behrens has paced himself judiciously so far, and despite its small run of 150 pieces, ‘Apparatus’ is his first in a couple years and feels like a landmark statement.  Like others recently seen summering on the Greek Agxivatein label (Francisco Lopez, Z’EV), Behrens’ music is incepted in an area very consciously juxtaposing “electro-“ to “–acoustic”.  Colliding organic with technology, the sound is nature recordings and western instruments – but instruments abstracted/stabbed/honked to make them alien, more alien, than the constant patterns of biomass.  Each track is a rusty can filled with bugs, grains, and granules.  Each track is similarly paired with an alternative recording, which is actually a complimentary recording, as these pieces were originally designed for four-channel playback.  When splayed out linear like this, the processes (neither songs nor atmospheres) are prolonged by the repetition, and uncanny in reproduction, like the Xerox-machine noise which sweeps across “Hum/Bells”.  Brought into relief through these bands of messy mechanical sound, the natural sounds circle back around, from therapeutic/organic to disjunctive/phony, like some sort of animatronic backdrop.  The unified “Rain/Compressor” may be the best example of this, as the steady wall of striated tropical-rainfall bulges forward with a baritone burst, like battle horns and the warnings of boars; the dualism compliments itself without synthesizing something new (the dualism effectively reproduced in the cover image opposing a lush forest and an individual in the midst of something technological).  Conversely there is the final pairing, “Mamori”, which calls into focus bird song and baubling timbres of indeterminate origin, effectively cancelling the work of the preceding album with its reification of natural sound and down-panning of suspect patterns congenial to a construct of ‘music’.  Printed discs come with vellum sleeves and cut, color cards.

Agxivatein CDr

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