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Organum/Z'ev - Tinnitus Vu

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Artist: Organum/Z'ev

Album: Tinnitus Vu

Label: Touch

Review date: Apr. 1, 2004

It's actually surprising that these two artists haven't collaborated before, given that both have long histories in the world of experimental audio. Both have been active since the late ’70s, but have traced their own paths. Z'ev, while placing his emphasis on metal percussion, has also released more textural works as Stefan Weisser, as well as collaborating with Glenn Branca, Psychic TV, Rhythm & Noise, and others. Organum, a.k.a. David Jackman, began his career with the notorious Scratch Orchestra. Since then he has released a string of noteworthy albums under both his own name and as Organum, including collaborations with Robert Hampson (Main), Christoph Heeman (HNAS), Nurse With Wound, and others.

Given this pedigree, perhaps the most disappointing thing about this collaboration is its brevity. With just four tracks in 16 minutes, each piece feels as though it hardly gets started before it finishes.

The collaboration apparently originated with Jackman giving material from a recording session to Z'ev, who treated and mistreated it. The idea itself grew out of a discussion of their respective losses of hearing, hence the title of the EP, which would lead one to ask just how closely these pieces are intended to mimic the sounds of tinnitus. Whether intentional or not, there are certainly similarities: low moaning sounds, static, hiss and distant rumblings are all symptoms mentioned by those who suffer from tinnitus.

The original recordings seemingly stem from recent piano-based recordings by Jackman, though the piano appears clearly only as an indicator at the beginning and end of each of the four songs. Without that clue, a listener would be hard-pressed to identify any definite source for the sounds here.

The four pieces, which all clock in around five minutes, are untitled but have distinctly different personalities. The first and third are on the calm, ambient side while the second and fourth are denser and noisier. The first piece introduces glistening tones and glacial synthetic sounds, moving into heavier tectonics during the second track. Distant ambience fills the third piece, while busily overlaid sounds remain in constant motion during part four.

As with any collaboration, there's a tendency to be a bit of a trainspotter and try to identify which elements came from which participant. Overall, this feels more like an Organum work than a Z'ev work, perhaps due to the ongoing textural adventures that I'm accustomed to encountering in each Organum release. In any case, though, it doesn't really matter – only the listening matters, and with that in mind, I'll repeat my earlier wish that these pieces lasted longer. But of course, a little of a good thing is better than a lot of a bad thing, and the former is certainly what we have here.

By Mason Jones

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