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Das Synthetische Mischgewebe - Gleis3eck/Gorlitzer Tunnel

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Artist: Das Synthetische Mischgewebe

Album: Gleis3eck/Gorlitzer Tunnel

Label: AIC

Review date: Mar. 23, 2007

The long-running (22 years and counting) German-spawned outfit Das Synthetische Mischgewebe (The Synthetic Mixture of Fabrics in English) has a long history of site-specific performances and recordings, two of which are documented on the two CDs comprising this release. Recorded around the time the group departed from Germany for Barcelona and then France, it's fitting that both of the sites here represented no longer exist.

In 1986 and 1987, Berlin was still a victim of the Wall, and deserted spaces were seemingly easy to come by. One such was the Gleisdreieck, a railway junction where DSM set up their electronic and acoustic instruments for an extended recording, of which some 85 minutes are hereby presented. The second location, of which 46 minutes is included, was the Gorlitzer tunnel, a pedestrian underpass several hundred meters long under Kreuzberg.

It would be of no avail to try to determine exactly what instruments, items and gadgets were used to make the sounds heard in these recordings – and that mystery suits these CDs well. It's useful to recall that this was around the same time as Einstürzende Neubauten, also in Berlin, were releasing Halber Mesnch and Funf Auf Der Nach Obenen Richterskala, their strongest statements. Berlin at that time (beautifully documented in the Berlin Super 80 DVD/book package) had more than its share of experimental artists, and DSM's sounds were emitted from the least-accessible cracks in the city's pavement.

From quiet rumblings, these performances grow via distorted hissings, squawks, clanks and grindings into a soundscape akin to a futuristic factory stamping out robots. Metal is scraped, mechanical contraptions buzz and squeak, feedback squeals and vibrations summon deep groans. The second track on disc 2, the Gorlitzer tunnel set, is on the whole a quieter, more eerie evocation of the location's deep reverberations, with what may be a generator rumbling quietly in the background. The occasional vocal interjections, echoing in the tunnel, are unexpected and deeply strange in the context of the overall darkly mysterious sounds.

Limited to 200 copies, the two CDs come packaged DVD-style with a beautifully-printed insert of text and photos on translucent paper. The liner notes by member Guido Huebner nicely describe the place and time.

These recordings are marvelously evocative: of lost places, of a time and location that was certainly unique, of a group's early works from 20 years ago, and of surreal, often intimidating imaginary places summoned by the mysterious equipment. One would hope that many more than 200 people would want to investigate these places.

By Mason Jones

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