ORGANUM - Vacant Lights / Rara Avis;
ORGANUM / Z'EV - Tocsin -6 Thru +2
[Die Stadt,]

I guess my love for Organum has never been fully realized. We've never cemented our friendship. These two new releases go a long way in helping our relationship grow stronger.

The double release "Vacant Lights / Rara Avis" shows two very similar faces of Organum. "Vacant Lights" [which is actually a re-issue of a session dating back to 1986] is a bare, haunting and dark musical journey. Some may call this music disturbing and label it "atmospheric", but Organum's music to me has always concerned itself more with the ambience and the atmosphere. Music is still crucial, but the end result is given priority. David Jackman's bamboo flutes [some of these were self-constructed by Jackman himself] sound relaxing almost, though it is a shame that they're buried so deep in the mix. Light percussive scrapes and wind-like sounds permeate this half-an-hour long piece. As always, what's wonderful about this [cleaned-up] record is the fact that you're not exactly sure who is playing what instrument. Obviously, the studio was used as an instrument in itself. The second disc in the set, "Rara Avis" is actually a collection 3 rare and impossible to find 7" singles, along with two new tracks. These short pieces [totalling a bare 20 minutes] are equally as contemplative as the first disc. The only difference here is Organum is joined by a number of special guests, such as Christoph Heemann [who adds some microphone feedback on "Wolf"], Jim O'Rourke [provides some guitar on "Iuel"], Robert Hampson [who acted as an engineer for the recording], and Eddie Prevost [who has worked with Organum in the past and who shows off some scraping percussion]. The results are serene, without being airy. The sounds are moving without being dreamy. Not only is this new 2 CD set a must for anyone with an ear for Organum's brand of music, but for any serious fan of new music in general.

"Tocsin -6 Thru +2" is a different sort of a beast altogether. When you invite Z'ev to sit in and collaborate, you know something special and out-of-the-ordinary will ensue. Both artists met in a London studio and recorded piano sounds along with a stainless steel instrument Z'ev had built. Once this was completed, they took the tapes home and mixed the sounds individually in order to come up with this recording. This is definitely a more abrasive, more trippy recording of the two. Z'ev's percussion is brittle and sparkling. Whatever he did, it sounds more like high pitched laser guns going off in your ears. The music progresses very slowly, at a turtles pace. Maybe I have a weak stomach, but the sounds these two produce was making me violently ill. My head was spinning. My head was hot. What I found interesting though was just how much better I got once I listened to "Tocsin 0". Once the high-pitched percussion gave way to slumbering and though-out piano work, I was in heaven. The transition is an amazing one to go through. It really does leave marks on your psyche. Albeit a great record, and one that grows on you with repeated listens, "Tocsin -6 Thru +2" is definitely for those that want to put themselves at the centre of an experiment.

Tom Sekowski

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