Thomas Lehn + Marcus Schmickler | Bart

Erstwhile | CD

A heightened collaboration in which the (often) freeform world of improvisation meets the (often) precision world of the studio and post-production, 'Bart' occupies a niche all it's own and easily surpasses the sum of its parts. Would it be sacrilege to draw a parallel to the working methodologies that gave us 'Bitches Brew'?

Yet, it is precisely in the contrast between tight control and raw, unfocussed energy that Thomas Lehn and Marcus Schmickler's collaboration lies.

Packaged in the appropriately lo-tech, glitch-graphics of Cologne designer Heike Sperling lies an hour-long release of stuttering free-form glitch funk. What differentiates 'Bart' however, from the myriad of recent glitch-improvisation releases is its ruthless attention to detail. Both Schmickler and Lehn are well known within their respective circles and the results of this, their first collaboration, are stunning to say the least.

'Gelb' shudders into existence amidst a perpetual onslaught of finely attuned micro-rhythms followed in close succession by 'Ziege', the broken digital chatter of an array of damaged machines, characterised by the manner in which thier multi-tasked, logical rhythms collapse into the digital chaos of impending system collapse. 'OS' in contrast - sitting neatly at mid-point - consists of the purest, uncluttered sine tones. A welcome pause.

'Du Funktion' sees a return to a thick molasses of digital smears welded to an ever-present system drone that unfolds over a staggering 30 minutes which, despite its sheer length, never rests. Left/Right tones cascade in waves over bitmapped crackles as Lehn and Schmickler add layer after layer of events into a seductive audio landscape.

Closing with a gently unfolding five minute coda 'Temp Close', one can only hope it represents just that: a temporary close.

[CM]



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