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C-Schulz - 5.Flicker Tunes

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Artist: C-Schulz

Album: 5.Flicker Tunes

Label: Sonig

Review date: May. 15, 2005

His solo output is scant - two previous albums, 10.Hose Horn and 4.Film Ton, and one EP, 7.Party Disco. His collaborations are almost as rare - one album with Hajsch in 2000, some appearances on Marcus Schmickler’s early '90s recordings for Odd Size, the POL group, and participation in the seminal Cologne improvising sextet, Kontakta. Yet, over some 15 years, Carsten Schulz has developed an idiosyncratic musical language, almost entirely by himself, that is all about mutability in repetition. 5.Flicker Tunes is his first solo album in over a decade, and it makes its point quietly and effectively - the ‘flicker’ is indeed at the heart of Schulz’s recent compositions. He has claimed in interviews that he has based many of these ‘flicker tunes’ on the pulsations of helicopter rotors, and he mixes recordings of this very sound into several of the pieces. Yet the richness of the compositions belies any kind of thematic restriction. Resonant, thick drones are swabbed around Dream Machine pulses; in "Flicker," the members of Mouse on Mars plot out oblique logic on guitar and drums, placed back in the mix and paced slowly against the grain of the shuddering hums of the track’s main theme. Acoustic sounds slide against electronics and field recordings, each manipulated in turn to fold into the rich seam of Schulz’s dialect.

The flicker that is central to C-Schulz’s new music, coupled with the coarseness and grit of some of Schulz’s sounds, has the effect of making his compositions sound weathered, grainy. Appended to the compact disc is a Quicktime Video of a film by C V Greve, soundtracked by Schulz’s "Swelan". Greve’s imagery is simple: for the most part, she obsessively repeats footage of a family eating around their kitchen table. The film stock is worn, rough, and distorted, which - as with Schulz’s music - lends the short film a ‘weathered’, pre-aged air. The incremental repetitions of the structure of Greve’s film reminds me a little of the work of Austrian filmmaker Martin Arnold, but shorn of both its upfront commentary and its unintentional humour. Instead, Greve’s intentions are mysterious and slightly veiled - the perfect fit for Schulz’s curiously effaced, gorgeously opaque music.

By Jon Dale

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