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Charlemagne Palestine and Z’ev – Rubhitbangklanghear / Rubhitbangklangear

Sub Rosa

Charlemagne Palestine and Z'ev - Rubhitbangklanghear/Rubhitbangklangear Almost unbelievably, Rubhitbangklanghear/Rubhitbangklangear is the first album that Charlemagne Palestine and Z’ev have recorded together, though they have apparently played together a couple of time in the last twenty-odd years. This double CD (there is an LP edition with half the tracks) is released as part of Sub Rosa‘s series of Laboratoire Central collaborations and finds the veteran (and it’s fair to add legendary) improvisers/composers in fine fettle.

On the different versions of the record there are both solo and duo pieces – three of each on the CD, and two duos and one Palestine solo on the vinyl. His solo piece (there is the same one on each format) uses only bells of various sizes as sound sources, and as the album title indicates, he rubs, hits and brings the klang in what is the shortest work on the album at just under eight minutes of crystalline chimes and melodic percussive runs. By contrast, Z’ev’s two solos are very different beasts: “Solo Z#1” is a rumbling, bassy thing of almost claustrophobic attention to detail, the microphone placement making it feel like the sound of the beaten, rattled and struck objects are present in the room – or alternately, that the listener has been strapped inside a giant wooden-framed wheel lined with taut skins and rolled bodily to who knows where. Put this one on loud in a darkened room and see how long it can be endured; or enjoyed like a carnival ride.

Z’ev’s “Solo Z#2” is the real heavyweight, not least in length. At three-quarters of an hour it takes the listener into an echo chamber of reverberating bangs and more klang, the album title becoming yet more descriptive with every strike of metal on metal. Where “#1” resembled a panjandrum journey, here the effect is like being placed at the epicentre of a giant oil drum (perhaps refinery-scale) while Z’ev makes it sing and soar before bashing the living daylights out of his materials to brain-pummelling, liver-rumbling effect. Epic in every sense of the word, immersive doesn’t even begin to cover the experience of hearing this piece, especially on headphones. At once densely-packed with tones and timbres of metallic rhythms to bathe in and simultaneously quite simple, even stark in its straightforward application of force > surface > reverb > immensity; this is Z’ev excelling at what he does best. By the conclusion it’s as if he has turned the sum of all sound into a jackhammer ricocheting endlessly into a helpless skull; the average dentist has nothing on this level of exquisitely torturous percussive assault.

So much for each musician on their own; together, as might be anticipated, their playing on “Duo C/Z #1” combines elements of both the above, Palestine at the bells and Z’ev making the low end rumble and thump as they slide up the anticipation levels. Again, this is where bringing up the bass controls to the maximum bearable threshold works wonders, if not for unsecured nearby objects or any loose window panes, because the shaking which ensues is a marvellously deep sensation to behold. Put in conjunction with the ceaseless chime and ding on the bells, and it’s enough to imagine Quasimodo cranking out the tocsins frantically as Notre-Dame de Paris crumbles fitfully to the ground. “#2” finds the drones bowed with equally brutal weight, grinding now rather than thundering, until the bells reach a threnody of relief as the bone-juddering hums diminish. The logical conclusion comes in part three with the bells and metallic percussion weaving a conjoined warp and weft of rhythms of such interlocking complexity it’s hard to tell if they exist in any normal notion of metre.

-Linus Tossio-

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