MICHAEL RENKEL: Möwen & Moos - Remix - REVIEWS

Michael Renkel remixes improvised music and makes a new electronica CD out of it. Whichever way you hang the lampshade, as a piece of music this is a total winner.Through innovative reworkings, Renkel finds endless possibilities in the improvisation that the original players could never achieve; at the same time , a solo electronicist with a hard-disc packed with samples could never achieve such moments of sheer intuitive brilliance, if working solo.The original source material is a double CD called "Möwen und Moos" - played by Renkel with his buddy Burkhard Beins, a fine percussionist who accompanied guitarist John Bisset on Chapel, another 2:13 release from last year.This music breaks a lot of the "rules" of strict improv, because passages are repeated and restated if they're successfull, edited out if they're not. Also, the original acoustic qualities are sacrificed; Renkel denatures and distorts many sounds until they're scarcely recognisable - but it has to be said, he is very sparing with the use of FX and filters. That's a discipline in itself. The new sound he makes are delicious enough to savour, hovering on the cusp between the familiar human warmth of the original performances, and the strangeness of the electronic processes that mutate them. When the original "source code" comes to the surface, and real-time playing is recognisable, then you realise that Renkel is following the established rhythms and patterns on the tape as an "analogue" to create this new work. Its internal dynamics are reworked and restated into startling new pattern. So while Activity Center is still a radical deconstruction of this form of music, it's also very sympathetic to the performances - and even enhances them in exciting ways. Now, there aren't many people currently stockpiling samples and soundfiles into their laptops who can make that claim; very often, I sense the opposite is the case, and that many young sampling - editorshave a far more nihilistic agenda in mind, No matter; this CD is a genuine and affecting work of art. In fact all improvised music should be this much fun.
- Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector -

Hmm, this is an oddity. The duo of guitarist Michael Renkel and drummer Burkhard Beins call themselves Activity Centre. Mowen & Moos was their double CD (one CD called Mowen, the other Moos ) released on 2:13 records in 1999. You are unlikely to have heard it (or even seen it) as it was released in an issue of only 150 copies, each with individual cover art by Fehmi Baumbach; an instant collector's item. Now this (single) CD is Renkel's remix "based exclusively on sound material" from the original album. OK, it isn't Panthalassa, but attribution starts to become difficult. And from your point of view, why be interested in the remix of an album you never heard in the first place? Well, leaving all of that aside, this is very good in its own right. In the true spirit of remixing, Renkel has imposed his own personality and vision on the original material, creating music that has an independent life away from the source material. There are plenty of electronically generated effects plus enough repeated sections to impose rhythmic pulses throughout. Dance music it isn't, but there are large chunks that will have an appeal beyond aficionados of free improvisation. Maybe the strangest aspect is that Renkel was one of the original players but has produced a remix that seems to subvert the original music. Intriguing. Overall, odd but well worthwhile.
- John Eyles, All About Jazz -

[ back to overview ]   [ details ]