For some, context sometimes can give clarity to abstract artworks by giving the listener/viewer a narrative to understand a framework of tonal patterns that otherwise wouldn’t stand out from the massive outpouring of experimental work being created in copious amounts all over the globe. For others (including this reviewer), context can set expectations or biases that one experiencing art can get led astray by instead of hearing the work as itself. Experiencing this expansive work of heavily processed and edited guitar compositions was an example of benefiting from a lack of knowledge of the artist’s background. As a fan of bands that Kevin Hufnagel has been involved with, such as Sabbath Assembly, Dysrhythmia, and Gorguts, nothing would have prepared me for the tone of this album, which tends toward elements of the ambient side of krautrock bands like La Dusseldorf.
Any ‘guitar playing’ per se is artfully obscured by intense editing and sound processing that uses the best aesthetic traits of the modern digital world, lending itself to a realm of automatic suggestion and fluid movement from one idea to the next. The rapid fluttering of pages being turned between chapters of a book in guitar histrionics is a recurring theme bringing a sharp sense of juxtaposition between the different moods and tones presented. One starts to think of Holger Czukay’s editing on later Can albums like Landed, where a sped-up global culture of sounds is constantly bouncing ideas off of one another.
“Raw Visions” features some tones I could be mistaking for a koto processed through MAX MSP; there’s a truly delicate interplay of diverse elements going on here. They’re not entirely divorced from a rock context due to the driving nature of recognizable guitar melodies woven into the Manuel Gottschling vibe at certain pristine moments. The hypnotic repetition and layering of Kleines Biest has this listener entranced in not spellbound… I just have to repeat how superb the edits on this are. Steven Stapleton or Pierre Henry’s style of surrealist tape music is a rare gem to experience in this modern age, and Hufnagel brings it. There are raw mechanical harmonies that jump out at particular moments, only to disappear back into the ether. We’re kept in a perpetual state of flow and tension throughout this fine recording. Nothing could be more satisfying as a late-night listen or background sound for making art.
I’d tell you to hunt down a copy, but it’s been sold out from Handmade Birds for a bit now. Feel free to download/stream it here.
A1) Not an Accident
A2) Kleines Biest
A3) Hidden in Pieces
A4) Ran Visions
B1) Deep Blink
B2) Shallow Beds
B3) Future Never
B5) Mary Celeste