other music review

Michael Goodstein
12 07 2000

The first domestic release from these two youngish Austrian improvisers. Guitarist Stangl (Polwechsel, Ton Art, etc.) and Powerbook player Kurzmann (co-leader of Orchestra 33 1/3) improvised tributes to four of their favorite films (from Barbara Albert, Fassbinder, Chris Marker & Godard). Rather than simulate a vertical narrative to showcase plot development or the buildup of tension in the films, "Schnee" is concerned with the actual sensory non-cerebral experience: the relationship between color, image & sound. It's a difficult enterprise, to creating work that mirrors the delicacy of the colors of filmic images and sound (including theater sound). Stangl's post-Derek Bailey fragile guitar introversion and alternating droning crescendos are placed over Kurzmann's G3's slowly changing textures -- slow rumbles and abrupt popping -- which they change just after they've led you into a false sense of rhythmic pattern (which plays the role of the film projector?). All this works to disassociate one from the experience ever looming in the darkness of the theater. Much like one of the masterpieces they honor, it deserves the thorough commitment of the listeners' attention in order to reveal its true worth. And like the film works, the ultimate reward from that commitment has exceptional value.