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eRikm/dieb13 - Chaos Club

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Artist: eRikm/dieb13

Album: Chaos Club

Label: Erstwhile

Review date: Oct. 16, 2007

This is a tough call. During weeks of listening to Chaos Club, my assessment has swung from one extreme to the other and back again. From exhilaration to exasperation to frustration… and back to exhilaration. But – more importantly – never indifference or boredom.

For this double CD, eRikm and dieb13 recorded a host of live and studio material, then used the raw footage to mix their own personal discs. The end results reveal clear differences between the approaches of the sound artists. eRikm's contribution consists of 25 short tracks, the longest over four minutes but many under one. Individually, they display great variety – drum breaks, snatches of speech, electronic tones, melodic interludes – but still feel like building blocks of a greater whole. Now, that could mean beginning to end or randomly, in which case there are literally billions of ways to ingest it. Some of the resulting juxtapositions are inspired and surreal. But, unsurprisingly, even when listened to from start to finish, there is a disjointed, incomplete feeling to the music. Often a track will hit a groove and just stop. Not that anyone would ever accuse eRikm of attempting to get funky. Nonetheless, too often it can feel like coitus interruptus, or a Godard jump cut, a sudden change of point of view.

The second disc, mixed by dieb13, is less frenetic than eRikm’s concoction, featuring longer tracks, many of which can effectively stand alone. The longest track (with one notable exception) is “Gaston” at over six minutes; taken at a sedate pace, it starts with bursts of Morse Code that recur throughout, and overlays a succession of contrasting sounds to build an industrial collage – simple but highly effective.

Ultimately, the defining sound of the double CD is the snap, crackle and pop of poorly maintained vinyl. It recurs repeatedly, often at unexpected moments, and most noticeably during the frustrating 40-minute finale – a stylus stuck at the end of a record, complete with attendant static and glitches, unadorned. Anyone who gets beyond the five-minute mark probably doesn’t want the track to end after 40 minutes, probably wanting the infinite option that only vinyl (or a Buddha macine) can offer. There is a strange paradox there, capturing and recreating the sound of vinyl on a medium that is its antithesis. Discuss.

By John Eyles

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