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Paper Factory - Schlactfest Session 1

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Artist: Paper Factory

Album: Schlactfest Session 1

Label: Klangbad

Review date: Jan. 19, 2006

Hans-Joachim Irmler: Keyboards, Electronics, Producer; Mike Adcok: Piano, Accordion; Clive Bell: Shakuhachi, Khene, Melodica; Sylvia Hallett: Musical Saw, Violin, Sarangi; Mike Svoboda: Trombone, Alphorn, Drainpipe, Conch Shell.

Long-time Faust keysman Hans-Joachim Irmler’s 2003 solo disc Lifelike gave patient fans a welcome glimpse into his own brand of industrial-tinged sonic exploration. Schlachtfest is, in part, an expansion of that album’s meditatively gritty gestalt, but with the addition of a quadruple dose of humor. Whenever Bell, Hallett and Adcok are involved in a project, all together or in smaller groupings, you can count on a degree of irreverent unpredictability; with the addition of Mike Svoboda, a veteran of Zappa’s final recording sessions, the fun factor is increased exponentially. Just check out the title track, where some braps (loosely and modally based around G) get the Hallett harmonic and tremolo treatment on violin, while Svoboda rumbles and groans underneath. Adcok trills on accordion, and all’s going just fine until about halfway through when … is that a bird, a plane? No, I believe it’s Irmler emitting a wild blast of helicopter electrosplatter, interrupting everything. It all stops abruptly, and we’re left with more rhythmic interplay, as before, with Svoboda sounding for all the world like he’s quoting a passage from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring!

Schlachtfest also gives every player a chance for a solo venture, and these are interwoven among the group improv pieces. There is the beautifully serene Adcok composition “Vorne Links,” which is allowed to bloom out of the first and much more jagged group improvisation. It’s a study for what sounds like electronically altered accordion, and in fact, most of the solo instruments get some kind of electrification, notably Bell’s shakuhachi on the fifth track. Again, this is an inwardly exploratory journey, in direct contrast to Hallett’s offering, the appropriately titled “In der Schmiede,” which morphs from a whimsically mysterious soundscape to a downright menacing slice of claustrophobically industrial scronk and scree, maybe the loudest thing I’ve heard from her.

Then, in a world of its own, is Svoboda’s track, “Hommage a Badesaison.” I’m going to guess he’s either playing drainpipe or alphorne, and judging by his solo track on Zappa’s Everything is Healing Nicely, I’ll put my money tentatively on the latter. This is a high-energy, wide-ranging, circular-breathing workout that ends up with the instrument being played in some kind of full waterbucket… maybe. It’s a rough-and-tumble, temperamental beast of a track, roaring, bellowing and squeaking its way through a myriad of incomprehensible and endlessly enjoyable changes. I’m not used to laughing right out loud during my improv listening, but this one did it.

All contributions are top-notch, Irmler’s own solo ambience being one of the most luxurious he’s committed to tape. This is a great listen, and I’m hoping the title implies that there’ll be a session two, or maybe even three.

By Marc Medwin

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