The 5th Elephant

Virtualectric Stories, 2002 [booklet text]

"The 5th Elephant" owes its existence to a failure. In October 1997 Chris Cutler, Lutz Glandien and Michael Vogt met in a Berlin studio to record a number of improvisations for drums, percussion-electronics, tuba and Midi-guitar. After three days of studio-frustration the trio listened to the session recordings and declared the results a failure. The trio's successful concert the next day at the Berlin Anorak club was not recorded.
A year later, still dissatisfied with the wholesale rejection of the recordings, composer Lutz Glandien went back to them. He loaded one of the improvisations (each spanned between 5 and 20 minutes) into his computer and began to search for interesting details. Such was the beginning of this CD.

By listening to single tracks he isolated drum riffs, individual phrases, tuba motifs, studio atmospheres and electronic sounds from both midi-guitar and percussion electronics, storing them on the hard disk of his computer. These would constitute the raw material for new compositions. Approximately 90% of the material for "The 5th Elephant"was collected from the rejected session recordings in this way. To add further colours the composer included some elements from his own sound archive: spoken voices, atmospherics and low frequency sounds – which the improvisations lacked.

The starting point for each piece was one sample: a drum loop, a tuba motif or, in the case of the vocal pieces, a voiceprint. This core sample provided the harmonics, tempo and intrinsic sonic character of each composition and informed its distinct musical style. With the key parameters established, the piece was then painstakingly built up around the core sample, using material taken only from the same improvisation.

The stylistic diversity that results from this way of working very much accords with the reach of Glandien's compositional career. Over the years he has written for chamber ensembles and symphony orchestras, produced electro-acoustic pieces, worked with rock musicians and improvisers, composed music for Hoerspiel, film, video, exhibitions and, recently, sound installations.

Aiming always for clear and essentially classical forms, the composer relies here on the trinity of driving rhythms, atmospheric backgrounds and melodic configurations to accommodate an extremely complex sonic structure.
Thus over a period of three years "The 5th Elephant" took shape – one piece at a time: a heterogeneous and multi-stylistic cycle of virtualectric songs.
Dr. Kersten Glandien

Lutz Glandien
The 5th Elephant
ReR LG2 | UPC# 752725013222

"The 5th Elephant" is an album of extremely aggressive, hypnotic, Gothic, Industrial techno, which sounds like the front cover looks ­ like the planet in Ridley Scott’s Alien. Lutz Glandien is a Berlin based composer whose mastery of the electronic studio, and freedom to move between genres at will is confirmed by this release. Crunching sounds, repetitive driving rhythms, terrifying science fiction soundscapes, backwards voices ­ there is enough here to satisfy the most hard core fan, and keep the rest of us gasping for breath. That Glandien is a contemporary classical composer just adds to the mystery, and his leaping across the genres celebrates the bizarre correlation of interests between classical electronic music and the techno underground. The album was born out of studio improvisations with drummer Chris Cutler (Pere Ubu, Henry Cow, Cassiber), and avant tuba player Michael Vogt (Berlin Symphony Orchestra). Listening back to the tapes, the group agreed that the results were a failure. This did not stop them from ripping through a storming live set at Berlin’s Anorak club the day after the studio session, but the general mood was that the recordings should be scrapped. A year later Glandien decided to re-look at the material, and by isolating the great moments and re-making the music from those building blocks, something wonderful began to take shape. He spent the next 3 years re-working the material, and re-processing the music with his computer, giving birth to this highly compressed and dangerous work. Glandien describes the compositions which emerged from this process as "‘virtualectric stories’, which develop according to emotional waves, never according to pre-set forms.” The lack of obvious formal structures is disconcerting and exhilarating, as the music never lets the listener settle into a grove ­ the groove is always changing into something else. Glandien’s use of fragments of speech to set melodic and harmonic frameworks further disrupts expectations - one section is based on tuba player Michael Vogts grumbling! Over the years Glandien has written music for chamber groups, solo instruments and symphony orchestras. After establishing his own electronic studio at the beginning of the 90’s he has made many soundtracks for film and television, and many works for radio. His 1993 album on ReR ‘Domestic Stories’, with lyrics and drumming by Chris Cutler, was in the mould of a Henry Cow/Art Bears song album, and drew critical praise: "This collaboration between former Henry Cow/Art Bears percussionist Cutler and German electronic composer Glandien could well be a Kew Rhone or Desperate Straights for the 90’s” Q. Following this, in 1994 ReR released an album of Glandien’s ‘classical’ works ­ ‘Scenes From No Marriage’ – a series of mini concertos for acoustic instruments and taped electronic sounds. Now Glandien has managed to fuse all these elements, and has shown us that its acceptable to force a marriage between, on the one hand Nine Inch Nails and The Chemical Brothers, and on the other Stravinsky and Stockhausen.