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Andreas Oskar Hirsch - Early Carbophonics [Makiphon - 2018]

Andreas Oskar Hirsch is an experimental composer who has released three LPs on the Makiphon label since 2015.  The 3rd and newest of these, Early Carbophonics, came out late last year.  It is a brief twenty six minute collection of rhythmic loops and percussive textures created from an electroacoustic instrument Hirsch designed himself, called the Carbophone.

From the sound of it, I would guess the music on the album was made with a prepared guitar, a vibraphone (or other mallet instrument) or an Mbira (the African thumb piano which apparently inspired the design of the Carbophone).  The carbophone's rough hewn, jangling tone has aspects of each of these instruments, earthy and wooden and yet luminous.  Perhaps it is due to the way the electronics within the device color the sound (they seem to add a slight analog delay), but at times it sounds like a drum with water inside of it.

Its timbre is heavy on the midrange, with scarce little true treble or bass frequencies, and as such reminds me of the simplistic homemade contact mics I have assembled by attaching Piezo disks to guitar cables and placing them inside household objects.  What it lacks in clarity and crisp fidelity, it makes up in personality, uniqueness, and an ability to transport the listener into simultaneous visions of many eras of the past.  With a sound not unlike vintage musique concrete works from the 50's and 60's, it is a good fit for vinyl release.

The instrument is used with such inventiveness within the short running time of the album that it is scarcely recognizable from one piece to the next.  A track like "Octopus Promenade" sounds like dark ambient winds gusts backed by skin drums played with bones, whereas opener "Prelude" has a percolating, filtered melodicism which is much nearer a synthesizer.  Elsewhere, the eerie, muted twang of "Balfolk" seems imbued with all the distinctive qualities of the guitar, sounding similar to Oval's work with prepared guitar on the "O" album.

This album is a document of pure creativity. The time Hirsch must have spent in constructing the instrument to be a deep and fully performable compositional interface is on full display with one listen to this album, a treasure trove of fresh sounds and visionary arrangements inspired by them.  Like the best works of Zoviet France or Stockhausen, Early Carbophonics seems to channel the trends and logic of a civilization which never existed, to catch some wisp of a mystic, instinctual ancientness within its modern means.  HIghly recommended to fans of musique concrete, industrial, and other psychically active sound texture.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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