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Brent Gutzeit - Losing Every Day

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Artist: Brent Gutzeit

Album: Losing Every Day

Label: Kissy

Review date: Oct. 29, 2003

Few musicians combine as wide an array of electronic sounds as Brent Gutzeit. Across the album Losing Every Day, and even within the same song, he jumps from the near silent passages of Francisco Lopez to quiet soundscapes evoking Bernhard Günter to unashamed noise reminiscent of Merzbow. In the laptop trio TV Pow and a number of other collaborations, Gutzeit has demonstrated his abilities and imagination with an incredible range of sound. Combining such a range into single pieces is at once exciting and jarring.

Some practitioners of quiet, abstract music speak about their desire to create pure, anonymous sound. They don’t want listeners to hear their music and then associate it with other objects or sources. For this reason, they painstakingly manipulate and twist their original material into unidentifiable sounds that must be considered on their own. On Losing Every Day, some of the original elements have not been scrubbed clean, and Gutzeit smoothly integrates all into the same environment. On tracks such as "Perpetuating the Lost Cause" and "Schweebur", field recordings from his home share space with ambient drones, piercing high frequencies, and static pops. Creaky floors, doors, and running water contribute as much to the overall texture as the more abstract inventions from his laptop computer. Extremely synthetic sounds sit on top of reverberating and warmer tones on a regular basis.

Where an artist such as Steve Roden invites listeners to closely analyze his creations by turning up the volume and registering every shifting layer, Gutzeit often lulls the audience into a trap. Similar to Roden, Gutzeit also tests the edges of perceptible sound, but to a very different effect. The opening track on Losing Every Day creates wonderfully droning tones with distant bells, piano, and water drips, until peels of static shatter the mood. One of the most soothing tracks, “Sterile Gray”, focuses on a low wavering pulse and soft repetitive static. This tasty bait pulls the listener seamlessly into the next track, a raucous recording of some crowd smashing equipment at Chicago’s Fireside Bowl. In both instances, the sharp difference in volume is startling. Where other musicians might ease into repetitive layers and maintain a trance-like focus, Gutzeit pops up to snap the audience out of complacence.

Whether his intention is to wake up the listener or to playfully yank out the rug underneath isn’t clear, because for every sharp transition that may feel unnecessarily harsh, Gutzeit also maintains a characteristic sense of humor. In the track entitled “So…Why Don’t You Just Get A Job?” Gutzeit samples a metal saw. Largely unadorned, this abrasive sound is unforgiving. This will resonate for every noise artist or fan who has attempted to explain their interest to unsympathetic friends. One can imagine Brent fielding the title’s question and simply turning up the volume, “Why don’t I what?! I can’t hear you!”

Despite a few of these moments, Losing Every Day feels largely unsettling. The extreme combinations of lulling quiet and startling volume often undercut an appreciation of the whole. At these points, the listener bluntly stops listening closely and instead holds a chip on their shoulder that takes away from the album’s finer creations.

By Jeff Seelbach

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