It’s been ages since I got my hands on anything from Austria’s GOD Records, and it seems in that time that they’ve reached some ridiculously vast territory in experimental music. Label owner and ideologist Slobodan Kajkut is a person of intriguing ideas, and his brand-new LP, Terrible Fake, is a release that has pushed me far beyond my comfort zone, which I’ve so far considered pretty boundless.
Terrible Fake features just two tracks, both spanning over twenty minutes and exploring a connection you might have so far thought you understood perfectly. The connection between the piano sound and drums on side A’s title track is explored in a very sparse and obscure way. ‘A somewhat crippled trip-hop’, writes GOD Records in the liner notes for the release. I found Terrible Fake disfiguring not just a genre, but music and perception in general. I have found it equally difficult to put music that is so fragmented and broken adequately into words. It’s something that very much needs to be experienced in order to understand the context of. The decision to specifically utilize piano and the drums—two of the instruments most closely related to our idea of what gives music a sense of ‘normality’—makes the album even more difficult to contemplate.
The piano, performed by Anton Polk, is recorded in an intimate yet hazy, atmospheric manner that carries an enormous weight of loneliness and isolation. The instrument is in a constant and twisted conversation with simplistic beat patterns, performed on acoustic and electronic drums by Istok Klemen. Even when the drums are silent, you’ll find yourself anticipating every hit. The same is true of the piano performance, even though it’s leading the way. Even the ‘silence’ is filled with reverberated sound.
Terrible Fake may sound amateur at first; it might even feel as if you’re listening to somebody experimenting with an instrument for the first time. However, the more you listen, the more it starts to make sense while the atmosphere gets heavier and more serious. I honestly have no idea how this extremely simple and broken music can feel so effective and emotionally charged, especially since there are no concrete melodies or structures to hold on to. There are only two instruments, recorded in an extremely lo-fi manner that appear to be barely post-produced. Yet, those two elements manage to dissect minimalism with such an oppressive and hypnotizing slowness that it makes the darkness thicken and the world around you shrink.
With Terrible Fake, Slobodan Kajkut has written an album that will make you appreciate each and every resonance of the piano or a snare-drum hit. It makes you strive for the moment when the drums and the piano meet, because nothing is predictable in this completely illogical music realm of weird timing and lacking obvious sound organization.
The B-side, ‘Terrible Dub’, makes things seem even more chaotic and strange. Consider ‘dub’ a very important term for what has been applied to the original piece to mold its change. It has completely cut everything but the low and mid parts of the sound spectrum of the piece, turning ‘Terrible Fake’ into a slow and mean bass beast. It works perfectly with the other side of the record—it’s a mirror image and a trip inside a mirror at the same time.
A1) Terrible Fake
B1) Terrible Dub