AMN Reviews: Grisha Shakhnes – Distance and Decay (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

R-5799687-1403006388-3084.jpegGrisha Shakhnes´ Distance and Decay appears to be cassette tape and field recording massaged, hand-built and layered. Tel Avivian Shakhnes creates both the distance and the decay by alienating us from his sound sources. They could just as well be the sound of cranky tapes as what has ostensibly been recorded on them. His pieces (at least the first three, each running around twenty minutes) also radically change character, evolving in such a way as to defy any kind of narrative ambition. His work is a kind of automatic writing, as indecipherable as Korean lettering on a dirty, plate glass window.

Thus we each have the opportunity to tell our own stories out of the noise Shakhnes provides us. “So Close to Home” is industry as poetry and social criticism, a kind of disillusioned Futurist sound collage, as if Marinetti and his coterie were to behold their beloved machines rambling with rust. “Air” sounds like the worst midway attraction ever being fed into a metal shredder until the last musical gondola is crushed to silence. But out of that silence, battered and bleeding, emerges an Oriental tune, which staggering to its feet becomes an atonal etude. A violin is beaten against a wooden post. The scrap of the carnival ride is fed along a conveyor belt into the maw of a raging furnace for recycling.

“Concrete” opens with a Hammer horror film organ that scares a million bats out of their belfrey. Out on the street, nocturnal garbage collecting by the municipal sanitation crew, in thick humid air, under a rail overpass. Finally, “Slow Life”, the shortest piece at a mere eight-an-a-half minutes, is unsurprisingly the most cohesive, expressing a single thought, as it were, the rush of bad air funnelled through a damp cemet tunnel.

Stephen Fruitman