Review of Box Music [12k1048]

White Line (UK)

An accidental meeting via e mail gave rise to this unlikely pairing in the spirit of exchange that was revitalised in the 1980’s with the advent of “cassette culture”. In the new millenium, this spirit of exchange has become the norm, with file exchanges taking place throughout the digital/experimental scene at a furious, indicriminate rate, birthing projects, collaborations and collusions the world over. However, this exchange system, although effective, has become somewhat jaded and cliched..and, well..a little too easy..step forward Stephen Vitiello and Machinfabriek who decided to take a more novel approach, harking back to the happenings and provocations of the 1960’s radical arts ensemble, FLUXUS, a gathering of disparate, inventive, and highly active folk who used the common, and everyday object as the central axis of their creativity, both audibly and visually.

Both artists here decided to send each other a box of objects, and challenged each other to create music with them. These largely un-musical components, rice, chocolate sprinkles, plastic bags, egg cutters, etc, make for a complex and challenging listen, and the interest of any serious auditor should be piqued right away.

The net result of all of this artsy posturing is a highly engaging listen, that combines digital atmospherics with often strange and otherworldly sonic manifestations brought about by the use and abuse of the gathered objects. Each piece has a title that is basically an inventory of the objects used, so get ready for “Bells, Book, Tin Foil, Buttons” , which is actually, strangely evocative and compelling, a beautiful and restrained piece of minimalism; we then have pieces like “Field Recordings, Rock, Speaker”, that pulse and crackle with rich, and sonorous ambience. I made my way quickly to “Chocolate Sprinkles, Tape, Egg Cutter, Rice, Plastic Bag”..a title that doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, yet is so technically brilliant, and edgy, that I find myself smiling at it’s ingenuity. I’m sure a host of similar projects will now be born, but Vitiello and Machinefabriek have come up with one of the finest recordings of food and kitchen implements this side of the 20th century. Creative, intriguing, and highly absolute winner..BGN

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