Alva Noto - Xerrox Vol.1-3
Alva Noto is the pseudonym of German audio-visual artist Carsten Nicolai. Born in the east German city of Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1965, Nicolai first studied architecture and landscape design before pursuing an interest in the theoretical properties of sound and space. Resettling in Berlin in the early '90s, Nicolai founded the experimental music label Noton.Archiv Fuer Ton Und Nichtton, as a platform for his conceptual and experimental musical concerns, later merging his label with Olaf Bender's Rastermusic to form the esteemed Raster-Noton Records.
In 2000 he recorded Prototypes, a 50-minute album of untitled sound collages constructed from the actual sound of electrical hums and clicks, amplified and arranged into a series of discrete movements that move beyond mere ambient music into a new realm of environmental music. 2001's Transformdelved into the glitch genre with ten new evanescent pieces, while 2005's Insen(featuring piano contributions from Ryuichi Sakamoto) continued that direction.
In 2007 he released Xerrox Vol. 1, the first in a series of five double albums. Xerrox Vol. 2 followed in 2009, Xerrox Vol. 3 in 2015. I impatiently await Volumes 4 and 5.
So why am I writing about these release now, you ask? Because, right now is the first time in the 8 years the store has been open that, (due to repressings), we have ALL three volumes in-stock at the same time. NOW is the time for the adventurous, discerning record aficionados among you to pick up what has become one of my go-to sets for late-night lift-off and inner-space travel.
And for the bargain conscious, only $22.99 each. Beware: these albums will not last long.
So what exactly are we talking about here? Well, using the process of copying as a basis, the Xerrox series deals with the manipulation of data by means of endless reproduction. Due to the inherent vice of the procedure that becomes especially visible when copies are made from copies, everyday sounds are so much altered that they can be hardly associated with the source material anymore. As a result, entirely new sounds are created that, being copies of originals, become originals themselves. We are talking about copies of copies of copies of snippets of music.
Xerrox Vol 1 (subtitled "Old World") sets the scene and, it must be said, requires several listens for the nuances and playfulness at work to be realized by the listener. The pieces of music here, heard through gracefully arranged hiss, white noise and drone, feel classical in nature. This is NOT a noise album. It's more like listening to some quietly decaying alien transmissions.
Seven longer pieces are punctuated by seven very short glitch interludes: rough rattles between the dreamily accessible ambient soundscapes.
Xerrox Vol. 2 ("To The New World") largely ditches the glitch and presents itself as a more even and almost continuous suite.
Here the music seems to be trying to atomize before your very ears, occasionally coalescing loudly and starkly in utter grandeur. Hum, hiss, static, and random surface noise are carried over from the previous volume, but are here in diminished form.
Xerrox Vol. 3 ("Towards Space") has, again, less overall buzz and distortion, and is far more about ambient cinematic melodies.
The hazy corroded edge has largely gone as the most calmly-paced and serene offerings so far, envelope you in a cotton-wool spacesuit. This is the series' most haunting and awe-inspiring music.
I strongly urge at least one of you to take this epic listening experience. As a whole, the concept and the execution are magnificently transformative for the listener, (whether played very quiet or very loud), and I can fill a whole evening positioned between the speakers transported by this uniquely absorbing world.
Xerrox - cheaper, safer, and more long-lasting than other drugs. (Lee)
Check out a track here.