the wire review

ben watson
the wire, 10 2000

Jamming it up in Vienna studio with laptop-whizzkid buddy Christof Kurzmann, guitarist Burkhard Stangl wrings the full range of available sounds from his array of "axes". On "Nordrand" his meditative bowing of electric guitar is pitted against nervous, skittery synth figure, and ocassionally caressed by a harmonic "stab" on the old six-string acoustic. "Sans Soleil" is heavier, where i can detect a motorised fan or other instrument driving the strings, and generating a thick black cloud of feedback drone. Such is the studio control that again the acoustic guitar rings out clear as a bell over the top of this dense wall of noise. Schnee is four long tracks of improv meets laptop, produced in a contemporary studio setting. I like the long extended notes, and the very rich variety of enjoyable sounds with which this CD is packed. But there seems to be a serious limitation somewhere. Im not yet sure if these two guys - in spite of their impressive careers and discographies dating back to 1990 - amount to much more than skilful process artists. They do tend to wallow in their sound for their own sake a bit too long; there might be enough actual playing, actual musicianship, taking place. Available either in this American version or a European pressing which has a rather nicer sleeve.