Boutique \ Bernard Szajner \ Superficial Music [BOUCD 6618]
Bernard Szajner chose another radical departure for this, his third album, released in December 1981. The first side features four tracks of so-called 'superficial music' compiled from the source tapes for Visions of Dune, but played backwards at half speed, and enhanced only by sparing use of analogue and digital effects.
The second side is taken up by the chilling triptych Oswiecim, which reflects Szajner's obsessive theme of life and death. This remastered CD and download also features two bonus lost tracks recorded in 1982 (E"r Aera and Inverted Area), never previously released.
1. Superficial Music 1
2. Superficial Music 2
3. Superficial Music 3
4. Superficially Accelerated Edits
5. Oswiecim: Ouverture
6. Chant Funebre
8. E"r Aera
9. Inverted Area
Available on CD and download. Booklet includes archive images and detailed Szajner biography.
"Reworking recordings originally made for an earlier project by slowing them down or running them backwards through harmonizers and other electronic effects, Szajner creates a series of translucent pieces, stripped of the instrumental sparkle to be found of his collaborations with Blasquiz and Paganotti. The two albums feel very different from each other, but are closely related through the composer's preoccupation with the inhumanity of mechanised death. Accompanied by extensive sleevenotes and useful bonus tracks, both suggest that there is still much to learn about the music made in the 1980s" (The Wire, 06/2009)
"It shows the tape experiment to be a significant success, a wholly involving and frequently disturbing blanket of continually contorting synthetic sound. Yet despite its uncompromising atonality, it's music that is easily accessible, communicating its intensely anxious messages with outspoken candour and remarkable intelligence" (Melody Maker, 1981)
"Superficial? No, superlative music! If you care at all for soundscapes that eschew cheap escapes, that demand clear perception without preconception, this album will do far more than tickle the surface of you mind... This new release marks a penetrating, persuasive look into the possibilities of pure tape music. This is music of almost overwhelming purity, whether played at discreetly ambient or totally engulfing levels. Reworking old material, it's almost Accidental Music. Except for the fact that there's a remarkably perceptive intelligence at work here. The tapes play backwards; logic is effortlessly reversed. Half speed gives extraordinary depth to the bass. Spare but telling use of the digital harmoniser and other studio treatments spin a sensitive skin of transparent texture over the naked harmony. Particularly on the second side, the impression is of a sizeable orchestra playing just beyond sight, a stately, spacious, but somehow eerie sound... It's hard to believe, in the fashion-enhanced, category-entrenched 80s, but you won't find many obvious influences here. If that sounds like critical shortchanging, I could suggest that Superficial Music occupies intellectual territory somewhere between Pierre Henri and Messiaen. Similarly in his rock mode he thrusts forward the standard so disappointingly dropped by Christian Vander. Irreconcilable? Not for Szajner" (NME, 1981)
"Szajner is a significant and influential figure in the composition and performance of electronic music. On Superficial Music, the intriguing results sound harmonious, anxious, consistently stunning and emotionally involving. An excellent reissue, and I expect Szajner will be belatedly name-checked by younger admirers as his work is rediscovered" (Brainwashed, 04/2009)