Terje Paulsen & Ákos Garai - Vertikale Skift [Gruenrekorder - 2011]Within experimental music, collaborative releases are common, and the results are often an intriguing chance to try and work out exactly where one artist's input ends and the other begins; split releases, on the other hand, allow for a broad listening experience of two halves. For this release on Gruenrekorder, however, Terje Paulsen and Ákos Garai have provided individual pieces which highlight the differences and contrasts between their own approaches, while retaining the track sequencing of a single album.
It would be easy to simply approach
Vertikale Skift from the perspective of comparing the two composers' strikingly different techniques (Paulsen's 'Skisse' tracks source their sounds from computer-based electromagnetic signals, which gives them a much colder, sharper feel than Garai's more organic 'Waterworks' set), but this would miss the point of the record: to draw these approaches together into a single piece, which would work just as successfully if credited to a single artist.
The release opens with the minimal 'Skisse 8', which works with a narrow range of textures and frequencies, playing instead within the realm of audible dynamics. After the almost oppressive drone layers of 'Waterworks II', 'Skisse 9' and 'Skisse 10' provide respite; 'Skisse 10' veers away from layers of crackling to near silence, to return minutes later with a much denser tapestry, eventually fading seemlessly into 'Waterworks III'. The final piece, 'Waterworks IV', initially working with a reverberated drone, seems to operate in a similar territory to the opening piece, before a much louder section draws the album to a close with its most intense five minutes.
Dynamic, then, is the key to Vertikale Skift's success. Over the course of the album, and within the pieces themselves, there is constant movement; even within seemingly static sections, a sense of sonic depth is always present. Whilst many lesser field recording-based works take existing sounds and turn them into a sterile sound piece, Vertikale Skift creates a real listening environment: one which, although artificially created, retains the space and time of an actual place. A fine electro-acoustic work which continues the high standards we've come to expect from Gruenrekorder.Ross Baker