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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Kammerflimmer Kollektief
Absencen
Staubgold Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


May 10, 2005
Absencen, the fifth document from this German electro-jazz ensemble, stands as their most ambitious and exultant recording to date. While previous endeavors similarly entailed imperceptible harmonic turns - quiet energy by way of toneless blowing into the saxophone and heart-on-sleeve ecstasy of exuberant electronics - Kammerflimmer Kollektief presently eschew the temptation to sand away their rough edges, and flaunt a wily allusiveness and restless, light touch that should elicit smiles.

"Lichterloh" is a suitable opening piece, testing the ensemble's aspiration to an organic coherence with the music's analytical propensities. That said, ideas clearly benefit from the group's successful integration of taped electronic elements with acoustic instruments.

As noted above, the electronics are less crisp and cerebral, more emotional and vivid in their lyrical aspirations. While still supple and expressive of mood, electronics no longer act as a leveling down device, souring the wayward trumpet bleating of its flavor and brewing a bland froth akin to much of the music from the Morr music camp.

Instead, the stew of Absencen bubbles and boils in a fiery rambunctious manner; trumpet and alto sax engage in stream-of-consciousness outpourings of notes that follow no conventional narrative; and seem content to recognize their own emotion as the ultimate end to which all action should be subordinated. The moods are as fresh and fragrant as flowerbeds in spring.

On "Shibboleth", airy single-notes from a keyboard clash against crackling sheets of frostbitten electronics in a natural process that sounds like a gamelan submerged underwater. Against this static backdrop, the temperature of a thin, slinky trumpet rises against shuffling percussion and takes on a fever that gradually spirals into a creaking cacophony of foundry sounds and meditative metallic machine music. All the while, nuances of European hues may be detected in the tracks chord progression and predilection towards smoke-filled, melancholy moods. As such, these compositions exhibit concise, finely crafted exercises where personal style and preference enter into a dialogue with the legacy of a collective European past.

Elsewhere, however, as on the folksy "Unstet", an elegant restraint is maintained. A story is told, yet moments seem suspended. Strings lap like waves, repeatedly ebbing out into silence rather than escalating toward some climactic crest. With bells struck with care, as though cymbals in a ceremony, against an onslaught of snaking electronic cables and a string-stretching guitar motif, the composition evokes the cry of plovers crossing a starlit promontory.

The simply titled "Matt" quickens this works pulse with a hypnotic beat set beside a waltz of strings and horns. In a bout of deconstruction, the luminous sway of horns mingling with the European hues of a string section, gives unto an electronic mangling that ruptures rhythm and dislocates all trace of organized beats to produce a series of sputtering noise collages that sound like the disembodied voice track of a damaged colossal robot. It's such disparate compositional approaches that enable the ensemble to display their versatility and interpretive skill in a variety of instrumental permutations. As it is, Absencen is a reminder of the sustained, creative breadth of music.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer

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