Saturday, 10 January 2015


"Above buildings"
Year:    2000
Country:    UK
City:  Manchester
Label:    FatCat rec.
Format:    CD
Tracks:   8
Time:   60 min.
Genre:    electronic
Style:        Ambient         Drone         Noise

JANEK SCHAEFER was born in middle England to Polish and Canadian parents in 1970. After preparing sound collages as a boy, Janek's musical career was fractured in his teens when, as head chorister at school, his voice broke. A decade later, while studying architecture at the Royal College of Art, the fragmented noises of a sound activated tape recorder travelling overnight through the British postal system were to re-establish his audio career. That work, titled 'Recorded Delivery,' was made for an exhibition with one time postman Brian Eno. Since then the nature of sound has been his primary area of exploration, resulting in many releases, installations and soundtracks for exhibitions, and most notably performances involving his self built/invented 'Twin' and 'Tri-phonic' turntable (which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the 'World's Most Versatile Record Player'). 

REVIEW :  The sounds on the Above Buildings album come from field recordings blended with noise from Schaefer's custom-built three-armed turntable, but the processing of these ingredients is so extensive the sources are impossible to identify. Whatever the roots of these tracks, Schaefer has brilliantly shaped them into a complex and unsettling work of sound art. Many of the pieces on Above Buildings are of interest to fans of dark, cinematic drone music. "Thousand Camera Corona" begins with deep bell-like tones, builds into an ominous rumble mixed with what sounds like buildings breathing, and then transforms into a piercing, high-pitched sine wave tone. "Forglen" uses the sound of chattering turntable static to add tension to an uncharacteristically warm and shimmering drone; the contrast is intriguing, almost like Oval remixing Windy & Carl. Another central figure on Above Buildings is Schaefer's extreme use of dynamic range. Passages of "Albarad" are so quiet as to be essentially inaudible, and then the track erupts into rich noise as loud as CD technology allows. Definitely on par with the best of similar artists like Fennesz, Above Buildings establishes Janek Schaefer as a major talent on the experimental music scene. ( Review by Mark Richardson  ).
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