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Folke Rabe - What??

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Artist: Folke Rabe

Album: What??

Label: Dexter's Cigar

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

I once played this CD at low volume and my father, who has listened to a lot of different music in his life but has not heard much minimalist or electronic music, asked me “Is that your computer working?”

That told me two things: first, my dad didn’t know much about computers; second, What?? isn’t immediately and universally recognizable as music, although I don’t think most Dusted readers will have that problem. If you can make the leap, you’re in for a treat, because this is an immaculate transportation to the heart of sound.

“What??” (or “Was??” if you prefer the original Swedish) is an assemblage of extended, harmoniously related, electronically generated tones that was realized in the late-'60s by Mr. Rabe, a Swedish gentleman about whom I know nothing. Some of the tones throb, others decay, others are just there; individually they’re pleasant and appealing, together they add up to a dense, complex drone that (as far as I’m concerned) could go on forever.

The piece appears twice; the original is 25 minutes long, while the second is the first one slowed down an octave and stretched out to about 50 minutes. Those are the facts, but they’re less important than the actual listening experience. Through slow but constant evolution “What??” erodes the sense of time passing, evoking a meditative state while avoiding both the aural blandness and the “check out my latest patch” gear-headedness that plagues so much contemporary electronic music.

By Bill Meyer

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