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Komet / Bovine Life - Reciprocess +/vs. 01

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Artist: Komet / Bovine Life

Album: Reciprocess +/vs. 01

Label: Bip-Hop

Review date: Sep. 23, 2002

Double Sided, Double Density (Supposedly)

The remix is a curious genre. Within the course of modern music there have been “standards”, songs for which a scored foundation is provided in order to be reinterpreted by others. Similarly there is the “cover;” the reworking of a piece, the results of which vary in relation to the original, but presumably explore its virtues and intentions to some degree. The remix, however, seems a little strange when you think about it. Most musicians labor obsessively over their creations refining and honing them until deemed “perfect.” A most apt description of any given piece of music would be that it (normally) reflects the vision of its creator or at least, in the case of film or other program music, aspires to convey a mood or tone envisioned by the composer. Analyzed in this sense the remix seems absurd. I, the artist, slave away tweaking my composition bit-by-bit, acutely aware of every element of its creation. I complete it and send it into the world – it represents me and defines me. I have contributed a piece of my being to the world at large. The remix, on the other hand, is the systematic destruction of a given piece of music; it depersonalizes it to the extent that the author no longer has control over the results. The work is further divorced from its creator as it filters through the consciousness of another and is in effect disfigured and disguised – it is appropriated and presented anew as the work of someone else. This is deconstruction, fellows. This is fun.

In an effort to display the remix process, the French label Bip-Hop has released the first in a series of what it calls the “Reciprocess” series. The idea is akin to the Dutch label Konkurrent’s (you have to be European to rightfully be theoretical) “In the Fishtank” projects; which pit the likes of Low together with the Dirty Three and Tortoise with the Ex. The idea behind the juxtaposition being that shared and interdependent composition ignites the creative juices. For this first attempt, Bip-Hop commissions two musicians to create original songs, which are presented along with a handful of collaborations and remixes, or reciprocal (re) processes, as the series moniker suggests.

This first installment contrasts (and intertwines) the work of Berliner Komet (Frank Bretschneider) and Scotland’s Bovine Life (Chris Dooks). Their independent works are quite different. Bovine Life favors a noticeably analog synth sound – the playful ebb of bleep and blips. Komet’s works are longer and more contemplative. They evolve in a sweeping, methodic manner. The two artists were familiar with each other’s work before beginning the project and presumably Bip-Hop chose them partially because of their equal admiration for one another. Despite making the two ideal office mates (or file-sharing mates as the case may be), it seems as though it might smooth the process out a little too much. Less tension, less divergent strategies, that perhaps fosters and encourages a slightly more homogenous recording than one had hoped for.

The album begins with two standard remixes, each of which conforms to the basic characteristics of the artists’ aesthetics. Following this are the Komet originals, which, as mentioned earlier are sweeping lengthy affairs. “Chrom” finds Komet adding some minor key melodies to a metronome-like tick; the song fades effortlessly (unnoticeably?) into “kom” which covers ground similar to that of its predecessor. Komet faintly sheds the monotone of the previous tracks with his final solo composition “sog” which has a more overt beat despite sticking with a minimal, pointillistic theme.

The remixes follow and seem to be overly influenced by Komet’s demeanor. Jerky, traffic-jam-gridlock exposition and vague intimations of melody characterize the most “reciprocessed” passage of the disc.

Bovine Life’s solo section closes out the album and is worth the wait. More attention is paid to coherent, engaging structures and listening to his tracks is good fun. It’s not an effortless listen, but concentration and perseverance pay off. In contrast to the Komet section, Bovine Life comes across as “conceptual with feeling.” This isn’t to suggest that you’ll be pumping Bovine Life on the dance floor, but the details are subtle and delightful. “Vone” has a carefully plotted theme – disjointed, yet enveloping. “Platuex” has similar characteristics, and the closer “Behind” pulses like a sorrowful, clipping elegy – definitely the album’s greatest accomplishment.

The “Reciprocess” series has some real promise. The idea behind it is an exciting and noble one, although it lacks in execution here. Hopefully, as it’s refined a greater diversity and excitement will develop in the recordings.

By Marc Gilman

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