Jürg Frey / Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit: Räume 1-8 (B-Boim Records) (CDR)


Jürg Frey's 320 minute long epic piece 'Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit' (2001-2002) was just released as a series of 8 CDRs from Radu Malfatti's label B-Boim Records. This is electronic music that was composed of extended looped sound materials including field recordings, instruments like percussion, rubbed noises of stones and metal objects.

The whole piece is imbued with a solemn atmosphere throughout, developing with extremely subtle changes during the 320 minutes. While listening to this very quiet music which makes slow progress over a great span of time, I notice that the way I hear it gradually changes. On CD 1, the very quiet extended sounds move slowly like the wind blowing through a pipe, while containing a tranquil, slightly ominous tone. While focusing on listening to these wind-like sounds of the first section, the border of performed sounds and environmental sounds becomes vague. This is the moment when one begins to feel as if the sounds on the CD and the noises of the air conditioning in your room were co-performing. The subtle shadings and delicate wavers of sounds make the boundaries between sounds and silences dissolve into each other, creating a mystic feeling of floating in the music.

Once I am attuned to these quiet sounds, I notice the various small changes happening in the piece, like viewing some imperceptible phenomena under a microscope. On the second CD, the ambiguous gray layers of the formless sounds disappear, and l start to hear some faint harmonies of electronic tones that have similar textures to string instruments – now the piece starts to be heard as music with a hint of melody. The faint harmonies shift toward the dark cloud-like low-key tones, and the music is again filled with an ominous atmosphere. While following the slow and gradual changes of the music, my mind recedes from its reality and becomes deeply drawn into the microscopic phenomena in the music, stretching my sense of time in a way that feels surreal. After about 90 minutes consisting of extremely quiet continuous sounds, some stretched out long silences are inserted between sparse sounds, like the silences of tranquil ponds dotted in a deep forest (this is on the third disc). Around the middle part (on the fourth disc), I start to feel that I am hearing some subtle chords or harmonies born from the resonances in the middle of the muffled sounds – the ambiguity of the whole makes it difficult to recognize if these come from field recordings, or the sounds of instruments, or the environmental noises around me. On the seventh disc, the quiet continuous sounds gain some regular pulses that throb calmly but vigorously like a human heart, as if I am watching some formless living organism emerging from a chaotic mud (but nothing fearful, something peaceful).

What makes this piece so fascinating to me is how it differs from the normal passive listening situation, where I just follow the musical development. Throughout the piece, my way of listening to the music actively changes as I hear this seemingly motionless wave of continuous sounds. The initial vague, translucent impression of the music suddenly becomes enlarged and clarified once the listener starts to focus on the details, and the music starts to unfold its beautiful world full of various subtle changes – a micro-symphony born in the gray area between sound and silence.

When I finished listening to all 8 discs, I was in awe of the deep, thick silence – as if I just came back from a place where a different level of gravity dominated. (It is worth listening through all the 8 discs just to experience this silence.) This is definitely one of the most intriguing (and best) releases I have heard in 2010.


■ Jürg Frey / Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit: Räume 1-8 (B-Boim Records) (CDR)

8枚のCDRに納められたユルク・フレイの320分間の作曲作品「Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit」(2001-2002)が、ラドゥ・マルファッティ主宰のレーベル〈B-Boim Records〉からリリースされた。これは、フィールド・レコーディング、パーカッション等の楽器の音、石や金属を使って出した音などを録音し、それらの音素材を引き延ばしてループにした電子音楽。空気の流れが長大な時間をかけてゆっくりと動いていくように、静かに進行していく音楽だ。