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Composer Wolfgang Mitterer declares the end of the jazz remix industry with his Radio Fractal/Beat Music project. His vision combines composition with improvisation like a street demonstration begins with planned activities and thereafter devolves into a brick- and Molotov cocktail-throwing exercise.
Mitterer's combination of live musicians with instruments, others with electronics, and a DJ with turntables was recorded live at the Donaueschinger Festival in October 2002. Later, Mitterer manipulated the music in his studio to become these 115 minutes of sound.
Is it a song? An epic? A soundtrack? Yes. Mitterer pulls music (sounds) from machines and musicians in a manner reminiscent of a ham radio operator moving up and down the frequencies drawing in pieces of electrostatic, music, and foreign talk.
It is not until forty minutes into this adventure that we get a steady beat. It seems the composer has planned for his listeners to be indoctrinated with fragmented sound reconstructions before allowing them to be comforted by a pulse. If he hasn’t lost you by the time the drumming begins, you are certainly prepared for his mix of industrial sounds, voice fragments, and live musicians.
Radio Fractal is kind of like an attention deficit disorder version of Miles Davis’ Live Evil sessions. Where Miles was looking for that one groove, Mitterer eschews repetition for the juxtaposition of samples and sound sources. Electric guitarist John Schröder even channels a bit of John McLaughlin here, but Mitterer knows the "electric Miles" approach is too self-referential to linger long. As drummer Herbert Reisinger taps away at his cymbal, Mitterer spins a track in fast forward over Eno/Byrne soundscapes of sampled tongues.
Disc two behaves a bit more like club music, changing up beats with Mitterer’s penchant for out-of-sync reference and restructure. By then, the disc is reminiscent of the motion picture The Matrix in that you are not sure you understand all that is happening here – or where you are headed. With both, you are certainly required to be a believer to be following along. You're either with him or you’ve split.
Only true believers need apply.
Track Listing: CD 1: 65:58; CD 2: 48:30.
Personnel: Max Nagl - Baritone Saxophone; John Schr
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.