Review of Mit Ohne [12k2010]

Earlabs (.ORG)

The release notes describe the exhibition and how the sounds relate to the visual aspect in part as follows: “[…] an atmospheric fragile and detailed work was created involving a three-part projection and multichannel sound which conveys an abstract audio and visual approach to the environment surrounding us and the concept of a room itself. Each audio track takes the listener into a new form of ‘room’ and simple patterns of single tones are layered into dense movements surrounding the listeners space.” I like the ‘room’ analogy. Only a mere 18 minutes 36 seconds in duration, this seven part, continuous work (no pauses between tracks) does to be sure give the “listener the feeling of being moved suddenly from one room to the other.”

Whenever I listen to Steinbrüchel’s work, Gary Zukav’s book The Dancing Wu Li Masters [William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1979] comes to mind. A sort of layman’s guide to quantum physics and subatomic phenomena as it was understood at that time, I see some parallels between Zukav’s elegantly figurative description of particle physics and steinbrüchel’s soundart – “a world of sparkling energy forever dancing with itself in the form of its particles as they twinkle in and out of existence, collide, transmute, and disappear again.” An image of “chaos beneath order.” (p. 213). As I listen to steinbrüchel’s signature approach on Mit Ohne, fragile particles of sounds, skittering electronics, gossamer tones, evanescent fragments of melodies, and subtle slices of harmony conjoined with moments of dissonance emerge, collide, transform, disappear, and reappear to create a sonic dance that never quite repeats itself.

Mit Ohne is an excellent (albeit brief) representation of Steinbrüchel’s efforts. Too short for those of us who have to come to relish his style, but a first-rate introduction for the uninitiated.

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