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OZmotic and Fennesz – AirEffect

S Object/Folk Wisdom

OZmotic and Fennesz – AirEffectInspired by Chris Marker’s fragmentary post-apocalyptic time travel film La Jetée and purporting to involve a mysterious black box dating from the Anthropocene era, AirEffect seems at once an imaginary soundtrack and the illusory object of its own investigations.

Stanislao Lesnoj‘s haunting saxophone circles SmZ‘s shuffling drums and other percussion while Christian Fennesz‘s guitar and electronics scrape and shimmer. All the time a plethora of broken, cut and pasted voices and environmental sounds ebb and flicker across the soundscape, their processed jitters and occasionally eerie whispers creeping and crawling into the listener’s perceptions in a dreamlike nagging at the unfamiliar.

The dynamics that the trio deploy are often highly effective and immersively engaging. Like tuning into overlapped, glitching radio transmissions, AirEffect draws the narrative into rolling dubbed-up vistas and drawn-down claustrophobic pathways where the voices mutter their incomprehensible imprecations. Drifts of idle chitchat, bovine groans and strangled guitar strings (and perhaps sometimes — or often — they are the same thing) slide or nag on “Anthropocene” amidst thunderstorms and pattering saxophone delays. Here, squittering electronics come flooding down into a flow of raindrops and emergent rhythms, Fennesz’ guitar bringing the drones to their collective imaginary version of the era.

Further up the time stream, the voices of “LiquIDMrkt” proffer their wares, automated ephemera and report on economic crises in layers of speech that increase their urgent demands upon the listener’s attention as the music crepitates and hums along with a steadily more paranoid air of unsettling insistence. The hissing crunch of electronic beats on “Clone 15.26” herald a shift in tempo and mood, hauling the narrative bodily into more conventionally recognisable areas. A strange air on a distressed jazz melody line heaves its way among the rippling abstracted rhythms and staticky undertow of the penultimate cluster of coherent musical structures, and a reprise that revisits some by-now familiar sounds and thunderclaps for the epilogue’s reflective conclusion. “Hello? Are you there? No…”, starts a lengthy voicemail message, the speaker cataloguing and unburdening her cares into the blankly receiving recorder before finishing on a heartfelt “I miss you.”

AirEffect feels like an audio time capsule, though a somewhat mobile one which crosses the eras without regard for linearity. Where the Anthropocene black box comes from or is going isn’t entirely evident, though it often seems like as much a hook on which to hang the album’s narrative as a fully coherent part of the story. No matter – it’s a beguiling journey, one which works as much as audio theatre as it does as music, and is no less effective for that.

-Antron S Meister-

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