Review of Box Music [12k1048]

Sonumu (.NET)

A collaboration that makes perfect sense, but which came about in a most unusual manner.

Stephen Vitiello wrote from his home in Viriginia to Rutger Zuydervelt to order some CDs. An E-mail correspondence ensued and finally the two decided to collaborate. For two musicians so well-versed in electronics, the collaboration itself took a most unusual form; instead of exchanging digital files, Vitiello FedEx’d a box with some everyday items to Holland, and Zuydervelt reciprocated. The exchange posed the challenge, make music of out this, if you can. And of course they each could.

The resulting Box Music contains two pieces by each and a closing duet. Machinefabriek´s task on the first track was made easier with the inclusion of some tiny bells, with which he performs the most delicate operations. He also conjures up a thunderstorm, but does he really do so with the buttons, tin foil and book which make up the remainder of his jumble? Regardless, the track is exquisite.
Vitiello chooses a “crackle box” and thumb piano next, which is treated heavily and dramatically with what sounds like analogue equipment, lending the piece a character of homage to the early pioneers of electronic experimentalism. Machinefabriek then creates a discreet, almost cautious piece. Only some sampled audio voices raise a spike on this soundtrack. Vitiello´s final solo contribution allows him to play with a broken record and cassettes, which naturally allows for the creation of a whole hörspiel constructed out of snippets of song, speech and other sounds that can be urged out of old, tired playback media, especially when you speed them up, slow them down or subject their very material surfaces to various pokes and prods. The most “entertaining” work on the album.

The box is closed with a finale made out of the unlikeliest of items – chocolate sprinkles, tape, an egg cutter, rice and a plastic bag. Definitely the least interesting section. The essence of this collaboration, then, would be the concept and solutions the artists work out on their own.

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