The Wire, November 2001:
from the bosses of Vienna's Mego label - Peter Rehberg aka Pita and General
Magic's Ramon Bauer - is the final installment in a trilogy of powerbook Improv
error-electronic releases on the Touch imprint, following Fasst (1997) and Ballt
(1999). With laptop glitch worshippers becoming alarmingly commonplace, this
latest despatch from its pioneers is a more than welcome wake-up call to the
legions of dozy copyists out there. Dividing 13 tracks across the four 'movements'
(for want of a better word) named on the sleeve, Passt was edited in Vienna
from original recordings made at three gigs in Sydney and Melbourne at the start
of last year. The live factor is clear right from the start, as the disc opens
with an overexcited Aussie emcee introducing the duo, wooping and shrieking
away. It's a gloriously incongruous way to begin a CD containing that trademark
glitchtronic click pulse, but the joke wears thin on repeated listens. Your
irritation is likely to be obliterated soon enough, however, as the minimal
bleeps are overwhelmed by a blast of full-on digital scree that slowly sculpts
itself into something resembling the rhythmic chug of an outboard motor or heavy
rounds of artillery fire. Yet Passt isn't just sonic apocalypse and ultradistortion;
with the narrative tension never letting up, it's like some kind of post-Techno
equivalent of the DJ mix CD. Passt ebbs and flows with an unusually satisfying
sense of timing. Sounds are ruthlessly controlled, taut and precise. Skittering
landscapes of prickly diginoise and metallic shards of sound give way to soft
pulses and aquatic clicks and pops; flickering high frequency tones weave around
subtle bass throbs. The high point occurs about halfway through 'Revolver',
when a furiously riffing Speed Metal guitar joins the fray, panning around the
soundfield excitably like a caged tiger. It's a brilliant shower of anarchic
electronic energy, and a triumphant finale to this landmark trilogy. [Jerome
Opening with the intro to defeat all other laptop'n'glitch album introductions, Passt kicks off with a roared interjection from Australian oddball Eric Mitsak at the start of one show of Pita Rehberg and Ramon Bauer's tour of his country in 2000. Naturally, since this is the world of Supercollider, fuzzy logic and fuzzier sounds, only the section "Revolver" is a straightforward live set recording. The rest of the material is made up of tampered bits from other gigs, including sections recorded at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney as part of the What Is Music? festival whose other luminous performers included Nine Inch Nails and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The mind boggles, and then recalls pleasant memories of Atari Teenage Riot messing with their and NiN fan's heads with a slew of improvised digital noise at the Brixton Academy gig around the same time period. What a joy it must have been to be a hard-rocking Industrial Metalhead at that time, and even more to have watched their reactions to Rehberg and Bauer. Certain sections of that and the other audiences could well have asked themselves questions about the nature of music on the basis of Passt (let's leave the assumption that they could and should have been posing the question anyway alone). No doubt many just gave up and went to the bar instead, but everyone else seems to have got a good old philosophical humdinger to ponder from Messers Rehberg und Bauer (of Vienna, Austria), and in spades. The shift from polyrhythmic excursions around the reprocessing plant machinery and its assorted patches, loops and tweaks soon transgresses repetirion and heads straight for crunchy, blistering noise. If these are glitches, then they're very densely packed bits and bytes, squishing the distinction between digital and analogue through the quite simple expedient of making a racket and then twisting it into several new blistering shapes. There's much more to Passt than simple purgative eviscerations of the contents of the duo' hard discs; rapid-fire loops build dynamic structures out of the aether, heartbeat motions become shuffly patches of bass and crackle; progression rides on post-vinyl pops and static crepitations snake themselves from the depths of an eviscerated loop into the foreground of demi-semi-consciously applied sonic decay in action. In other words, it's a multi-layered sampladelic noise feast, and one that's not to be sneezed at (because Rehberg and Bauer will probably try to sample the sound) in a zeitgeit awash with the sound of laptops uncoiling themselves with all the glee of an emetic fetishist on a binge and purge mission the hard way. Snap, crackle and squelch have become the new Rock'n'Roll for some, somehow; and more simply the best way to get sine-tinglingly lost, deleriously at that, in the inner malfunctions of sound for others. [Linus Tossio] - www.freq.org.uk
VITAL, The Netherlands:
I once saw one (or was it both) of the Twins of Digihurt perform in Holland (The Hague, maybe?), and after the concert, the entity in question insisted on playing the Teletubbies(a phenomena I had thus far, mercifully, been ignorant of) theme over and over again, flapping his thermoinsulated arms up-and-down, penguin-style (for it was cold as the small droplets of frost in Bjork's knickers). Since then I have had the distinct and hopefully forgettable experience of finding out who the Teletubbies are, as well as realising (again) that human memory retains all, even (disturbingly) the image of thermally-distressed composers impersonating fat, furry (and yes, simple) television personalities. Where's the relevance, you may shriek^. Well, this anecdote is included here because it was (and is, unfortunately, each time I hear it) the flash I suffer when hearing the beginning of this new CD by Messrs. Rehberg and Bauer: A brief (dare I stretch the definition of 'humourous') introduction that is only really irritating from the second hearing onwards (the point, perhaps?). And of course, there's all the over-tightened sounds we have come to know and expect (love and could eventually not-love?) from them, and maybe that's where my problem lies. Always on the search for new sounds (both in my own explorations and in the results discovered by others), I find little on this assemblage of ditties that gets my rooster crowing, even though at times it's almost like the Twins are on the verge of truly deep electroacousticity (good name for a record?)(tell me it's been done) a la those stabled with peerless Canadian label, empreintes digitalis. Mostly, it's pulse, glitch, thud. Repeat as long as you like and then reverse the ordure for the chorus before nuking it. Comes a remote second to their 1999 release 'ballt.', on the same label (get this instead!). Time to ditch LISA? [MP]
The tracks on Passt were recorded live at three venues in Sydney and Melbourne throughout last year. The disc begins with a confounding intro (you'd have to hear this announcement yourself to figure it out), but then Rehberg and Bauer quickly get underway with a barrage of electronic sounds and sharp cutups. Full of effects, glitches, pulses and interruptions, this music puts you in surprising places as it constantly shifts its gears. By no means chillout music, I think these tracks might be meant rather to give you an unsettling jolt, to knock you out of complacency. Rehberg and Bauer subject their sounds to all manner of effects and run them through the cogs on their laptops (or so I imagine), which slice and dice them into multitudes of abstract and often harsh electronic elements. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't really been able to get into this music since it arrived in my mailbox. What unsettles me is that I'm not sure I can see where this music is going; to what end all of this harsh kaleidoscopic collage work is heading. My impression is that it seems too transient to have some kind of clear vision or direction. It's certainly one of the more difficult and inaccessible releases on Touch released this year, and if there is an underlying principle or theme in these recordings I seem to have missed it. [Richard di Santo]
Peter Rehberg (aka Pita) and Ramon Bauer completed their trilogy for the label Touch with the 2001 CD Passt. This album, short at 33 minutes, maintains an uncomfortable relationship with glitch electronica. Rehberg & Bauer’s first CDs pioneered the genre, which quickly went through an ossification process. Closing their series, the artists try to distance themselves from the glitch culture, bring a humorous and critical touch to the music. But meta-music this is not: we remain in glitch territory, even though unexpected twists and turns abound. This album originated from three live dates recorded in Australia, early 2000. The discbegins with an hyper-ventilating Aussie presenting the duo as if they were the biggest funk sensation. The oddity of his comments reminds us of the oddity of the music itself -- an attempt to restate the fact that laptop music was not intended as a trend but as a drastic avant-gardist move. Noise abound throughout and the esthetics of “only digital mistakes recycled” stamped on earlier efforts has been left out in favor of something more>substantial. The first three movements (scattered between tracks 1 through 6) offer an assortment of nice textures, but the piŹce de résistance is found in “Revolver,” which begins like an innocent live glitch>improvisation and climbs the noise ladder up to a brutal assault. This is not comfortable music, neither is it the duo’s best proposition (together or in other projects), but it brings up important questions on what happened to glitch, although it leaves many unanswered.
VITAL, The Netherlands:
Of late I have been encountering CD's of contemporary music that seem to be almost symphonic in content. Whether this is because of the repetition of motifs, either as melodies, or in the actual arrangements, or because of the processors used I'm not sure. (Somebody, who shall remain nameless, unless I see wodges of loot, noted that this might make a good demo-CD for the LISA software. I have no idea - I don't know what LISA does at the best of times , and when she's in the company of the Twins of Digihurt, it's perhaps best left a mystery. Who gives a fuck anyway...it's what you hear what counts, innit ?). Back to the top...this new release by Rehberg und Bauer is a perfect example of just such a 'symphonic' composition. It's the second part of a trilogy that started with 'Fasst' in 1997, and it's an excellent example of how creativity can mature if given time. While this CD is divided into separate tracks (all with names that sound as if they were constructed from letters pulled out of a hat), it makes no difference if I listen to this sequentially or in shuffle mode - it continues to make perfect sense, and there is a graceful flow to it that now pours, then snaps and snarls as it escapes from the confines of the speaker-boxes. It is amazingly organic - there are extremely granular textures that are eroded by fine, persistent spray into endless escarpments. Boulders are rolled around on the sea-bed by thick, menacing, inky seas. Wind buffets and whistles around resistant crags. Intoxicated, unidentified creatures attempt to converse as thick Orkney fog tightens around their throats. Rock melts, crystals form. The gods of ketamine stagger blindly. Shapeless things stammer-stutter. New life strains against the resistant crust, pushes harder and, breaking through into ochre light, luxuriates and starts to glow...
What an exceptionally cool CD this is; something I am sure I will never tire of. It's already in my top-ten for 1999, along with several others released by this innovative and quite superb label in London. May the Twins prevail ! (MP)
City Newspaper (USA):
As far as music's concerned, the so-called digital renaissance goes way beyond MP3, DATs and Pro-Tools. For electronic musicians working on the fringes of the new world-wide scene, it's opened a whole new realm of sound. The clicks and popsof a CD player skipping out of control, the aural nuances of DAT, a FAX machine on the fritz: this is all determining a new mode of compositional thinking. But more important ly, it's the only way musicians are actually commenting on the digital age. Sheer bafflement tends to be the most frequent reaction new listeners have to this music. Comments like "That's music?" aren't too uncommon when introducing people to the work of Peter Rehberg and Ramon Bauer.
Stationed in Austria, R&B have been huddled around their laptops, exploring digital sound possibilities for a few years now. And they've released some exemplary work by a wide range of digital sound artists through their Mego label. Ballt follows 1997's Faßt as the second part in a trilogy the duo is recording for the Touch label. But where Faßt found Rehberg & Bauer constructing massive side-long sound sculptures sourced from malfunctioning equipment, Ballt is a more open-ended, but less random affair.
Rehberg & Bauer build most of their pieces from rhythm on up, creating persistent yet strangely fragmented clusters of sound which often grow unsettling. Things seem to get almost personal on Ballt , which consistently plays with your expectations like an aural endurance test, shifting at will from the almost inaudible to the mind-numbingly noisy.
Three years ago, General Magic (Ramon Bauer) and Pita (Peter Rehberg) defined the tone of their Mego label with a stream of CDs exploring a warped brand of digital interference drones. Strangely hi-tech minimalist and grainily lo-fi at the same time, they collaged loops and riffs out of the glitches in their Powerbook music programs, creating not just a set of abstract noise sculptures, but something more compellingly driven that sparked off accidental changes. As a press release for ballt. underscores: "The computer is an optically biased medium. . . and its music composition software is framed in the language of graphic design. The trick is to transform the parameters of these definitions and defaults." Now that electronic music has got generally glitchier, that message seems less subversive, and the tracks here, with their uncoordinated loops of Geiger counter crackle, fax whirr and percussive stutters are not so shrilly intransigent. But there's been a shift in their approach too, as if they've started to filter other 'musical' possibilities - perhaps from the more melodically orientated Cologne scene, or the sound sculpting of :zoviet*france: - back into the music. ballt. tracks are still abstract, crisp and minimalist, but there's more leeway in the kind of music explored - they might turn out to be abrupt noise riffs, hypnotic pseudo-Ambient grooves or more freeform and textural. The opening piece shows the duo at their dimension-breaking best: a scudding, accelerated crackle that oscillates rapidly between the left and right speaker channel, widening occasionally into fax-like strips of tone, then suddenly shearing into a Merzbow-like caustic digital boom which fades in and out of view organically, like the breath cycle of some deranged cybernetic animal. But the next track adds more melodic, descending tones beneath its whirring intensities: a bleak Illbient Techno that gradually gains the gravitas of a slowed down Bond theme, surrounded by digital miasma.
The changes here are quirky, delving in and out of different musical parameters on the border zone between noise art, Ambient music and more hallucinatory atmospherics. Some tracks work arhythmic grains of noise into a cyclic cybernetic judder with shades of drum 'n' bass, while others slip into more drone-like grooves, filtering tinny registers or addingchild-like spangles of harps and shooting stars. By the last track, they've reached a point closer to Paul Schütze's recent work - a dream space centred around a slightly dissonant organ drone with bleeps, xylophone and percussion rattling about like bones.
Ballt. is a collection of spastic electronic noodlings which caress the generator, the hum and subdued squeal of electricity in motion. "Oh" is hiccuping static that creates a scraping, disjointed rhythm; "Toll" spits out deep fried, throaty distortion that is woven into a strange reverberating vacuum, transformed into vibrant, shimmering, brittle electronics with a dramatic synth undercurrent; "Hey" sounds like swords being sharpened, but the inherent electronic edge shears the perception until it is obviously an illusion; "Recol" includes a metallic insect pseudo-percussive rhythm, decorated with thin glass tapping and injections of static; the throb of "Pah Eins" is of the sweeping distortion vein, kinda slow motion whip snap with crispy recording edge; "Pah Zwei" has a rubber blip feedback, upon which alternating sounds infect: dripping sounds that are not wet, a drone tone that makes one's neck spasm (twitch), scattered, broken bulbs - a more agitated take on what Pan Sonic creates? Hmmmm, maybe - though this definitely explores different channels within the current of electricity (for the sake of electricity) induced music. Kind of like cleaning one's ears with steel wool Q-tips.
Viennese sound artists Rehberg & bauer create an ominous and intergalactic crunching of pulsating computer malfunctions, screeching material. and grinding machinery with a mind of its own on Ballt, the second part of their unsettling trilogy. Something has gone terribly wrong. I don't think it's supposed to sound like that...help me.
To create BALLT's handsomely textured corrupt-file fabrications, Mego label main men Peter Rehberg and Ramon Bauer crunched and mulched recordings of their live hard-disc performances. All the elements of music rhythm, melody, tonal and timbral reciprocity, expression are present here, but they've been dislocated, distorted, and garbled to the point of indecipherability through massive editing and processing. The orchestrated digital impairment of BALLT confronts the listener with an insistent question ("what is music?") and a provocative answer ("this is music.").
Even more intriguingly, BALLT suggests that the decomposition of electronic sound is no less natural or desirable a process than the rot that reduces fallen trees to fertilizer and the erosion that wears mighty mountains to sand. Electronic gibberish and wayward data spill from every track. The stuttered, channel-hopping static of "Oh" and the effusive signal leak of "Pah Drei" are extreme scenarios of machine malfunction. Worm-like viruses infiltrate "Pah Eins," chewing a devastating course through susceptible code. "Toll," "Troik," and "Hey" find an icy, glimmering beauty in this dissolution of data, while "Recol," "Heng," and "Nah" zoom in upon the blips of rewired rhythm that push their delicate, blossom-like heads up through BALLT's rich layers of digital dirt and decay. (another enthusiastic misreading?)
Gonzo Circus (Belgium):
Wat is het verschil tussen het geluid van een ijzerwerkplaats en een cd van Rehberg & Bauer? Geen! Ze maken allebei ontieglijk veel lawaai. Wat is het verschil tussen de eerste Peter Rehberg & Ramon Bauer cd (<<Fasst>> uit '97) en de zopas verschenen tweede (Ballt), allebei op Touch? Op het eerste gezicht weinig. De verscheurende powerbookterreur van het Wenense tweetal raast en kraakt als vanouds met fatale resultaten voor je speakers. Maar er zijn ogenschijnlijk toch enkele andere ondefinieerbare invloeden binnengeslopen. <<Fasst>> moest het vooral hebben van opengespatte en verhakkelde industriële machineritmes met occasionele invullingen van statische frequentiestiltes ('Supa Zwei 1-12'). Rehberg & Bauer haalden de inspiratie voor dat werkstuk, getuige de titels, vooral uit de hen omgevende ijzer- en betonrealiteit. Op 'Ballt' wordt de pijnlijke geluidsgrens op een subtielere manier verlegd. De indruk is dat hier wat noise teruggenomen wordt en dat iets grondiger en gestructureerder te werk gegaan wordt bij de digitale afbraakwerken. Alhoewel! Da's natuurlijk een relatieve uitspraak want 'Ballt' boort zich vanaf het eerste nummer 'Oh' letterlijk in je oorschelp als een of ander vreemd insect dat het op je hersenen gemunt heeft. Op 'Toll' maakt de computerherrie plaats voor een symfonischer (?) benadering van het begrip noise. 'Hey' is zelfs een relatief rustige track met zijn ondefinieerbare geluiden van metaal op metaal en zwiepende elektronica. Het piepende 'Recol' en vooral 'Troik' daarentegen ontaarden opnieuw in een schuimbekkende aanval op je gehoorzintuigen. Op de drie laatste nummers ('Pah Eins', 'Nah' en 'Pah Zwei') slaat de metaalmoeheid toe en wordt effectief wat rustiger te werk gegaan. Het strekt Rehberg & Bauer tot eer dat ze voortdurend op zoek zijn naar een andere benaderingswijze van het begrip antimuziek. Waar het allemaal naartoe moet, is na dit tweede deel van een drieluik nog niet helemaal duidelijk. 'Ballt' is een hard te verteren en compromisloos ding dat je niet onmiddellijk in de supermarkt zult horen. Maar met voorsprong de beste noise die er op dit moment gemaakt wordt. En met de stellige zekerheid dat je na beluistering met gescheurde trommelvliezen en bloedende oren afdruipt.(pw)
"What comes here are the reflections of modern technocratic society - when every human step is under control of "the rational technology"; on the contrary, REHBERG & BAUER are revising and inspecting the whole idea of a creative process - their very own vision of animated machine music has been structured. Despite of eloquent constructive grounds (sic), in the broad sense this is your beloved noise record. Very diverse and hardly foreknown, it borders upon minimalistic ambient loops - the greatest examples are Metro, Supa vier and Aux cuts. Drastically magnetising."
"Peter Rehberg & Ramon Bauer are better known - where they are known at all - through their work on the Viennese Mego label under the aliases Pita and General Magic. On Faßt they announce, "all original source sounds were obtained from broken DAT tapes, personal mistakes and total machine failure", and that this is "a final cry for help from the derailed facsimile line". Such sound sources can and do yield all types of material, and this is a much more textured, dirty, infested sound than that resulting from Oval's similar tactics. Like Oval, however, Rehberg & Bauer take some pains to make explicit the rhythms implicit in their sources. There is a gorgeous array of digital glitching, the raw thrum of electricity, and the crackle of static, but noises are occasionally processed, cleaned up, until they resemble the drum machine sounds that they may well have started out as. Who can say? Perhaps these sounds were simply hewn from the distortion into which they tend to dissolve. Whatever, it would be a mistake to get caught up in the more musical elements and to ignore the raw beauty of the elemental, which is this disc's true subject." (Tim Owen)
"This project consists of looped noises and drones which are fairly well layered. Unfortunately there is not too much going on here, and it quickly becomes boring. Fans of subtly changing, minimal experimental music might want to look into this. Rating: 6" (fsck by farmers manual got a 8.5 rating)
"Peter Rehberg (aka DJ Pita) uses twin CD decks and a Mac powerbook to make his music. One of the Mac programmes enables him to draw and loop the parameters of the effects that he uses to transform the already disembodied sounds from the CD player. Sometimes he will loop one frame of sound. For this project he has teamed up with Ramon bauer from general magic. Their music explores the digital imperfections of today's supposedly perfect machines. Their textures sound like a virus has eaten away everything that was once recognisable. On 'Nix Drei' it is as if the insides of the sounds are being sucked out. Elsewhere they use regular rhythms. However these have more in common with a room full of computer operators saving their work onto hard-disk than with the machines of a bygone industrial age. The sound can be dense. 'Metro Zwei' starts off with a thick falling cloud of high static sounds which morph into a low bass rumble akin to burrowing in concrete. 'Supra Zwei 1-12' is sparse - the digital equivalent of the analogue clicks and pops you get on records. I love this CD. One of the most profound memories I have in the last two years, is of my visit to Potsdamer Platz in Berlin last september. The landscape of concrete, pipes, huge machines and mud was a combination of both wasteland and future possibilities. These sights troubled me but I had to get a closer look. In the same way I am drawn to the inner detail of the sound and texture of this recording. Fans of Microstoria/Oval and Panasonic will enjoy these two releases. There is no post-modern nostalgia here. This CD looks to the future." (Phil Durrant)
"Of the many projects which Mego ministers PETER REHBERG and RAMON BAUER have fronted, Fasst could well be the strangest. Based on the premise that one man's trash is another man's treasure, the duo rummaged through the bins and scavenged DAT scraps which were damaged, discarded, or simply forgotten. A little polish and quarts of glue later, and the resourceful musicians had cobbled together a symphony of errors. The end product is less of a Frankenstein job than one might have expected. If these pieces were indeed stitched together, the seams have been artfully confused with glitchy loops and squeaky hinges. Track three is a merry bleating-fuzztone blast which develops into a tremendously satisfying rhythmic romp ala (sic) Sakho and friends. The noises elsewhere are shrill enough to bore new ears in your skull and sharp enough to put out your pineal gland. Snippets of static fill tracks six through seventeen. Rehberg and Bauer, who would never do something as patently obvious as have the track names correspond to track numbers, deliver a pair of highly abstract sound 'sculptures' (18, 19) and exit with a bracing ballet for nuts-and bolts, powder-sander, and plane (20). All recycled garbage should sound this good." (gg)