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Neurobot: Petla Bohumina

Mark Corroto By

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Listening to Charlie Parker recordings from the late 1940s and early 1950s, specifically the incomplete takes of studio sessions, it's possible to hear bits and pieces of chatter and noise from the hissing/wobbly start/stop of recordings. These are what musicologists and cultural historians dig. The off-hand comment, noise, or experiment in sound reveals another world, outside of the engineered masters.

These outtakes might have been the seeds from which the 39 minutes of electronic improvisation, by the Neurobot trio, have sprung. Not that the alto saxophone, from which this recording draws, was ever heard during Neurobot's six-hour performance in Warsaw, Poland, but some of the electrons or, perhaps, a few expelled oxygen atoms that were dispersed from a Parker session might be present here.

Like Parker, Neurobot is no more. The principles—Jacek Staniszewski aka Facial Index, Artur Kozdrowski aka Dr Kudlatz, and Dominik Kowalczyk aka Wolfram—have moved on to new projects, but this 2001 performance remains.

The trio work in layers of sound from its laptops and electronic tools. These are scratchy etchings without beats or bridges. They have built these layers through looped white noise, pops, industrial sounds, an ambient landscape from which the occasional snippet of voice bubbles up. Something about flying saucers, or bits from radio broadcasts sent into space 60 years ago, the layers accumulate like an archeological find.

The disc ends with a guest DJ, Maciek Sienkiewicz, adding turntables to the trio's sound. The longest piece on the disc is also its most aggressive. With vocal samples from B-movies, the experience recalls the seminal 1980s and 90s cultural cut-up band Negativland. Where the previous tracks revealed themselves almost gently, here the information comes in clamoring waves of great tumult. Glorious noise.

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