released June 23, 2014
Mirko Uhlig, “one of the better and unfortunately lesser known drone masters of Germany” (Vital Weekly), makes his first appearance on Attenuation Circuit with this album recorded under his Aalfang mit Pferdekopf moniker. This 45-minute acoustic dream journey is a wonderful example of Uhlig’s talent for combining calm dronescapes with the most subtle element of tension while the ambient acoustics of field recordings conjure up an imaginary resonant room.
The three tracks are based on sound material by Frans de Waard published on a tape compilation for the 25th anniversary of the Korm Plastics label, which can be heard at the beginning of the album. As Frans de Waard explains in a spoken introduction to this album, listeners were invited to remix the material, preferably with 4-track cassette recorder. The music on “Mutatis Mutandis” is Mirko Uhlig’s response to this invitation, so it is a fitting gesture that the album is also released as a cassette in tribute to the important role that 4-track machines and the tape distribution scene have played in the development of experimental musics. Thanks to Frans de Waard’s guest vocal intro, the cassette is a “tape with the sound of its own making” similar to Robert Morris’s seminal sound sculpture “Box with the Sound of its Own Making”, but the music also makes for very pleasant listening on the CD version.
Fishing for eel using a horse head, that is, quite literally translated, the practice that Mirko Uhlig is using as a German name for his vehicle.
Reviewing the discography, Aalfang has an impressive list of releases starting in 2004. It caught me by surprise that it only started then, as I had the feeling with this avantgardist project it had already existed for decades. Maybe because of the name, the irony it continuously displays, album and title names, and basically everything has a great resemblance to the German avant-garde that reared it’s ugly head during the eighties, P16.D4, and of course the absurd collages of the famous couchdeers aka H.N.A.S.
The guy behind the spoken intro is Frans de Waard, the Dutch prolific composer behind Beequeen, Freiband, Tobacconists and a lot more aliases. This release, we find out, is a remix of a short track released on a compilation album. Where it originally was a short, 1 minute track, it is stretched on this CD-r to a 38 minute duration. The original also can be heard here, and remarkably only adds another minute or so to the total disc length. Analyzing the stuff, the result is kind of great. Where the original sounds very hermetic and cold, the remix becomes highly expansive and hypnotic. It would be appropriate to file under drone music, but with the possibility of it being mistaken for boring music only suitable to fall asleep to, I would decide not to do so. This 38 minute track of slowly evolving enigma’s belongs in the shady and difficult to describe state between waking and sleeping where a lot is going on when listening closely. For me that remains a good place to reside. PvdG.
Frans de Waard spricht eine Einleitung zu Mutatis Mutandis (ACR 1014, CD-R / ACT 1001, Cassette) von AALFANG MIT PFERDEKOPF. Es ist das nämlich Mirko Uhligs Bearbeitung des Freiband-Materials von der Kassettenkompilation The Years 25 / 25 Years Korm Plastics, mit dem FdW zu Remixen aufgefordert hatte, bevorzugt als 4-Spur-Tonbandelei. Fieldrecordings mit der Atmosphäre von Wasser und Wind wurden von Uhlig zu einem 38-min. Dreamscape weiterverarbeitet, die zugleich einem Mann, seiner typischen (Klang-)Landschaft und einem Medium Tribut zollen. Schimmernde Drones und knarzige Laute, die ein wenig an Gänse erinnern, lassen einen bald die Bodenhaftung verlieren. Graugänse queren die Niederlande. Wobei man von einem solchen 'Bild' dann über weite abstrakte Dröhnstrecken zehren muss. Die Gegend dort ist halt doch ziemlich flach, und Uhlig passt sich konsequent dem Gelände an. Erst die letzten Minuten schnurren dann wie vom Propeller gezogen dahin. Und ein Epilog pratzelt unerwartet harsch hinterher, mit einer verzerrten Stimme, die sämtliche Fehlschüsse Freiband ankreidet.