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David Jackman - Verhalte Dich ruhig

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Artist: David Jackman

Album: Verhalte Dich ruhig

Label: Die Stadt

Review date: Sep. 3, 2003

Hold You Back Calmly


Those readers familiar with the world of experimental music will know the name David Jackman, primarily from his work under the name Organum. As Organum, Jackman has created some of the finest, most haunting drone recordings that I own, minimalist masterpieces of sonic texture.

Limited to 700 copies, this CD is a reissue of a 1996 cassette-only release that appeared in an edition of only 61 copies. The two pieces herein, totalling about 30 minutes, show a very different approach from Jackman's Organum work. Perhaps slightly similar to the sampling work of John Wall, here Jackman has taken found recordings of orchestras, and overlaid them to create two eerie collections of string ensemble collage. The title seems to translate to "hold you back calmly" and though I'm not an expert in German, that sentiment certainly matches the music.

An endless rise and fall, the music slowly crests, with string sections washing over one another and occasional woodwinds calling out. At first, it sounds quite natural, and you start wondering what might accompany this score. Then you realize that the strings aren't really ending they may grow quieter for a moment, but eventually the strings carry on. The collage work is clever enough that the layers interact seamlessly, lending it all what I might call a vague hyper-tonality. It's not atonal, but the notes don't always match up in a normal manner, and the result is more creepy than edgy as they pile onto one another.

It would be fun to put this on for some friends without telling them what it is, and see how long it takes them to realize that there's something strange going on.

It's actually a shame that this is only going from an edition of 61 to 700, but it is an improvement. This at first seems like one of those experiments which looks good on paper but might not actually be interesting to listen to. On the contrary, Jackman's produced a fascinating experience.

By Mason Jones

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