Review of Lay-by Lullaby [12k1079]

The Wire (UK)

Janek Schaefer has regularly returned to concepts and ideas from J.G. Ballard, with Lay-by Lullaby being the most recent. It began as a gallery installation which saw speakers mounted into traffic cones, receiving transmissions from a classy leather-bound radio, with the sound design itself, a loosely composed work of field recordings from the M3 motorway on the outskirts of London in front of Ballard’s house. The sounds of traffic rushing by is a recurring motif, a reference to Ballard’s sex’n’death meditations on the car. On top of these found sounds, Schaefer layers placid sonorities that recall Basinski’s tape loop mantras, offering similarly maudlin eulogies. A few of the tracks, such as ‘Radio 104FM’, sport a snippet of a Lynchian pop song that tumbles into narcotised reverb. Using the simple overlay of symbolic sounds it provides an accessible piece of sound art. As a composition fixed in time and space, the album variation offers a pleasant, unchallenging listen.

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