Dusted Reviews

Bill Laswell's Material - Oz Fritz: All Around The World

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Bill Laswell's Material

Album: Oz Fritz: All Around The World

Label: Sub Rosa

Review date: Feb. 15, 2005

There are travelers and there are tourists. Travelers search for experience; tourists search for pleasure. On All Around the World recording engineer Oz Fritz plays both roles. Using field recordings made while touring with Bill Laswell, Fritz guides the listener through West Africa, the Australian Outback, India, Europe, Asia and North America via snatches of sacred and folk music performances, multilingual chatter and bird calls.

Fritz utilizes audio collage, juxtaposition and cut-up techniques to build the pieces. The mix of techniques and sources creates an audio onslaught that, depending on your mood, either aptly evokes our teeming world or leaves the record feeling scattered and random. One moves from a chant from the Australian Outback to ”West African Night,” a juxtaposition of drumming, chants and city sounds. Should we search for a connection, or simply accept them? Traveler or tourist – your pick.

Fritz declares, in block capitals at the end of the liner notes, “The intention here is to use sounds as a means for exploring space.” Fritz sees his work as continuing John Cage and Edgard Varese’s attempts to widen people’s perceptions of sound. With this record, Fritz says he is trying to capture “quantum waves,” or the arrangement of subatomic particles that relate mathematically to sound waves.

Fritz imbues everyday sounds with physicality, like the spattering of water against stone on “Bell of Sacre Couer/Showtime at Giza,” giving sound definite context. His recordings of musical performances show a similar concern. On “Temple Drumming” and “Easter Sunday Midnight Mass,” the locations’ echo and atmosphere leak through, creating a refreshing alternative for ears grown accustomed to claustrophobic, anesthetized studio mixes.

Ironically though, Fritz is most effective when he spins his source material into disorienting whorls of voice, noise and music, combining clips without geographical or thematic restraint. Both the title track – church bells, street sounds, Japanese toys, a hymn, an Arabic boom box and more – and “Holy Beggars” – chants from beggars in Tokyo, Tashkent and India – achieve a powerful, overwhelming density that comes closest to Fritz’s goal of capturing the underlying harmony of far-flung spaces.

The album lacks extensive detail on what spaces we are hearing and, more seriously, omits musician credits, and it is unclear if this lack is lazy or intentional. Perhaps Fritz is striving for a convincing first-person point of view where, as a traveler or a tourist, we often miss illuminating information. Fritz himself draws attention, unintentionally, to the album’s limitations, stating on the title piece, “It’s just sound.” Fritz does not want for vision or open-mindedness. After hearing All Around the World, it becomes clear that no matter how powerful the experience, just can’t drink in the world all at once.

By Matthew Wuethrich

Read More

View all articles by Matthew Wuethrich

Find out more about Sub Rosa

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.