AGF: Words Are Missing (AGF Produktion)


Posted on Apr 7th 2008 08:55 pm

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AGF: Words Are Missing

Words Are Missing
AGF Producktion 2008

As Homer once said, there is a time for words and there is a time for sleep. Whatever her instincts as a poet, Laub founder Antye Greie has obviously decided to tear up the script here and abandon words altogether. Boldly claiming to look into “the phenomena of silence, speechlessness, deconstructed language and impeded communication”, at first glance this is a record that seems more like an academic treatise than a piece of music. And the ethereal, glitchy sonic landscapes at first seem almost too cerebral – as if an idea had been placed wholesale onto disc with no musical intervention in between.

But like a dusty text that gains in clarity the more one looks at it, sounds open up here as though from cracks in the carefully prepared edifices. It is fair to say that AGF is hardly doing anything new in attempting to break away from the poetic template. Even before T.S. Eliot, poets were probing into the fringes of language and meaning, so perhaps the garlands for forging new poetic realms will have to wait for now. Yet as music there is much of interest here. Patterns of sound are torn apart and spliced together again, creating jagged new rhythms that collapse on top of one another. The landscape she treads across in her search for material may be spartan, but when she gets the mixture right, the results are strikingly potent. Tracks like the astonishing Letters Make No Meaning see cut-up words stutter and skip over empty sonic universes. Percussion clatters, forlorn, bellowing bass notes sound from afar, giving us something both urgent and utterly lost. In fact she at times does to words what Oval routinely do to CDs – unearthing in half-familiar sounds fresh and unsettling discoveries. Others, like opener Words Are Useless and Food Combination Chart, move the sound on to create more delicate terrains – although the sense of desolation always seems to linger. And, amid the earnestness, there is even sometimes a sense of fun, as on closing number Under Water (Run!), where a rare groove flickers beneath layers of mad, shrill fluting.

At times, the ceaselessly rearranged material descends a little too far into a sort of cut and paste version of musique concrete. This happens on Die Ufer Sind In Feindes Hand in particular, where the applause of an audience is looped around a barking vocal and grinding electronic dirge. The inspiration may be Pierre Schaeffer, but the end product seems a little forced. The over-arching idea here probably stretches too far to work without occasionally over-reaching itself, but what AGF offers is so fresh and unremittingly different from most of what fills the shelves of record shops nowadays, it has to be given praise.


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2 Responses to “AGF: Words Are Missing (AGF Produktion)”

  1. mapsadaisicalon 09 Apr 2008 at 11:44 am

    Get with the concept – review it again, but this time without words.

  2. Robert Rowlandson 09 Apr 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Yeah, I suppose that would have taken less time to write. I suppose we’ve had the concept album – maybe now it’s time for the concept review?