Those who only know Peter Kutin from last year’s excellent sound collage Burmese Days may be surprised at the sound of the new label founded by Kutin and Florian Kindlinger. Only one of the first two releases is field recording related, and even the untreated Decomposition morphs into an electronic work by the time it has ended. But only a few years ago, both were part of the quartet dirac, whose drone-like, single-track album Phon is still one of our favorites. In Kutin / Kindlinger / Kubisch, the participants’ names are no longer obscured. The label’s other preliminary project, Ventil, hides the names of drummer Katharina Ernst and visual artist Conny Zenk, but we suspect it would have been confusing to call the quartet Kutin / Kindlinger / Ernst / Zenk.
This latter trio is responsible for the label’s first release, a wise move as the name of the band and the label are identical. This half-hour work is extremely powerful, the type of electronic music that defies attempts at sub-categorization. It’s part industrial, part noise, and part collage (if one counts the opening radio transmission). The overall set is dark and propulsive, owing as much to Skinny Puppy as to Ben Frost. From the moment the deep bass and squawk enter on “Refurnal” (2:12), the album unveils its menace. By exercising restraint, the music avoids the in-your-face predictability of typical EDM; more attention is given to the development of the set as a whole than to the production of singles. This being said, “Nail” is a potential club hit, a layered collection of beats, buzzes and static charges that races along at 148 b.p.m. The harsh poundings that begin at 3:41, half-steam pipe, half garbage can lid, provide one of the more unusual breakdowns we’ve heard in a while. On the fuzzy-synthed “Kamp”, the initial beats are even, while the late beats are staggered; by the closer, the factory lights have been dimmed. As the music comes across as the building up and letting out of pressure, it’s fitting that Ventil means “valve.”
Decomposition is twice as long, and even more complex. As previously noted, the album begins as a pure field recording, but when Christina Kubisch enters the fray in the final act, it turns into a synth-like electronic work. Flying in the face of convention, the opening track, “Absence”, allows for the imposition of sound rather than its subtraction; looking at the photo, one thinks of near-silence but hears immense activity. The label calls it “a brute inferno of noise,” which makes sense once one realizes that it is recorded “inside a telescope during its calibration” and is not meant to portray the stillness of the Atacama Desert, but its danger. Ironically, the very presence of machinery – raw recording as it may be – makes the two-part piece sound more like industrial music than most composed music bearing that name.
The second piece is more desolate in the classical sense; recorded in an Alpine glacial gap, “Introspection” heads backwards from the ocean surge that ends “Absence” to the source of the water, ironically becoming an (unintentional) witness to climate change. First there are the crampons, about as loud as crampons can get; then the soft drippings from inside the gap. As the internal resonances are amplified, the piece becomes a drone, sounding at times like Tibetan singing bowls and slow-rolled maracas. The album’s closing piece pushes it even further, adding electromagnetic recordings from wires and casinos. Kubisch handed her recordings over to Kutin, who arranged them in a sonic melange. The stated result is an arrow, from desert to bloom (referencing a quote printed on the Hoover Dam). But the unstated implication is that in Las Vegas, humanity simply replaced one sort of desolation for another, and called it civilization. Is there more “soul” in an untouched landscape or a populated gambling mecca nicknamed “the city of sin”? One struggles to find soul, heart, or emotion in the sounds of indifferent slot machines, and comes up empty: one cherry, two lemons, no heart ~ such a heart is instead found in the composer who exposes the contrast. (Richard Allen)