Reviews


The Guardian (Friday January 23, 2004)
Where has all the music gone?

Sometimes all you have to listen to is the sound of your stomach rumbling

Plenty of audio CDs on the market veer towards a sound aesthetic that's closer to the worlds of expressive design and art. In other words: conceptual, maddeningly opaque, sexy, elitist, technically innovative, difficult to evaluate, intensely creative and of wildly variable quality and intent. Such pieces of "sound art" encourage a response similar to that of gallery visitors, who can experience the work at a pace of their choosing and react in any number of ways: with abrupt dismissal, mute puzzlement, contemplation, sensuous pleasure or none of the above.

Lutz Glandien's album Lost in Rooms (ReR, £12.99) is in part a contemporary soundscape album, but it is closer to being music than many. Glandien's source material includes memories of a Canadian childhood, recited in a delicate setting of quiet electronic noises and evocative samples; domestic details; train noises; an ominous low hum. It's an intimate, radiophonic ballad. This kind of sound design has become commonplace in film soundtracks, but is here treated with great subtlety by Glandien, who also has an interesting, spooky way with electronic rhythms. He is rarely in a hurry to develop his thematic ideas, but he delivers.

by John L Walters


BBC London
Lutz Glandien – Lost In Rooms, A Virtualelectric Story
( Published at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music )

Words arrive suddenly, enunciated in a calm, wondering manner. They recount a memory of a childhood home which is given colouration by the soundscaping that envelopes its description. Sound and music succeeds narration seamlessly, lucent like lights slowly emerging out of thick fog.

The narrator returns altered partway through the second track, initial calmness now replaced by agitation. His words are now torn from his throat – they’re stretched, squeezed and reversed to the point where cognitive recognition is impossible. The effect is unsettling, as though the speaker has become a ghost and is haunting the music. Prevented from articulation he cannot be understood or find peace. The rhythm of the music appears to echo the rhythms of the speech that preceded it. Syllables become hisses, phonemes become screeches indistinguishable from the thin screams of devils.

Next, a brief memory of walking along train tracks is recounted by the narrator now made whole again (the effect is like that of a return from the dead), but it’s impossible not to observe an increased vulnerability. Other treated voices appear and disappear and their different timbres expand the breadth of the drama. It seems as if they’re spirits bearing witness to events which it might only be possible to comprehend intuitively.

The music that ebbs and flows around these speakers is twitchy, insect-like, electronic, but it has a brutal component of implied violence – unexpected crashes jolt the listener. The tearing to which the voice is subjected is applied also to the music. Lost In Rooms triggers a particular association with Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel House Of Leaves where sentences twist, turn and stretch in typographical reflection of the contortions of the possessed house which is the book’s subject.

It would be a mistake to refer to Lost In Rooms as filmic. It stands as a self-contained piece which conjures images in the mind’s eye less predictable than the vast majority of soundtracks. As its subtitle states it’s a story, but one which is composed in large part by the listener, given cryptic signs by the composer and his narrators. Lost In Rooms is a convincing synthesis of drama, memory, ambience and music which may sit proudly alongside Russell Mills (which appears lighter in comparison) and Deadly Weapons (a one-off project involving Steve Beresford, David Toop and John Zorn), to name two possibly comparable projects.

The final narrative episode recounts a return to a long unvisited childhood home and the lack of recognition of the now changed environment. Lost In Rooms is saturated with threat, eeriness and horror – sensations which are the distillation of the familiar become strange.

by Colin Buttimer
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Dusted Magazine
Lutz Glandien – Lost In Rooms, A Virtualelectric Story

Lost in Rooms instills the desire to choreograph movements for a modern dance troupe, a la La La La Human Steps. It’s no coincidence then that this recording was produced for Duty Free, a production by Rubato, a Berlin based dance company. Room is made for movement, but can also function as music for steep reflection. Part industrial soundscapes and part IDM stylings, yet Glandien’s latest thrives at a level of cerebral maturity that avoids the trappings inherent in genre trends. This is ultimately an audio documentary in social studies, hence the subtitle, A Virtualectric Story. This CD is structured around a narrative by Daelik, a Canadian dancer who relates trite stories about growing up with a large family in small town Canada. The narratives are set within layered atmospheric-cum-noise pieces that are somewhat dark in mood, bringing to mind Muslimgauze or early Front 242. The rush of air currents and boiler room hum function as all the more stark and pronounced. Interrupting the flow of the narratives are rapid-fire IDM breaks. The constructs are mind numbingly intricate, like the inner workings of a stopwatch. The tracks are speedily precise and complex. Glandien utilizes re-assembled splinters of sounds sources, collaged in melodic order. The effect is roughly similar to playing an Autechre album at 45 rpm, and kick-in again, Daelik’s narrative resumes, like stumbling into an open courtyard after twisting through a labyrinth. Daelik rambles on about childhood antics and returning to his town many years later to find the innocence of his home town lost over a post-industrial landscape of crumbling silos and rusted out train box cars. One of the unique qualities about Lost in Rooms is Glandiens use of the human voice for the IDM tracks. Glandien recorded spoken texts from English, Estonian, German and Chinese speaking people, then spliced together disparate consonants and an eerie, organic feel that is deliciously unsettling and totally unique.

by I Khider


The Squid's Ear
Lutz Glandien – Lost In Rooms, A Virtualelectric Story

Glandien's third Recommended Records release finds him again in the electroacoustic realm, similar to his album The 5th Elephant, but with even richer sonorities and a more impressive dynamic. This work, described as a "Virtualectric Story," is carefully constructed from electronic sources, vocal narrative, acoustic and vocal samples, and rhythmic loops. Glandien has worked in a variety of compositional and orchestration styles but seems most comfortable in the electroacoustic realm. What distinguishes and defines Lost in Rooms is the narrative from Canadian dancer Daelik. The story commences at the opening of the CD, describing Daelik's recollections of the house he grew up, and the various rooms within. The tone of the tale is optimistic: Daelik clearly valued his upbringing in the house he describes, and found it and the surrounding area a source of imagination and exploration. He relates his upbringing in a familiar way that makes the story comfortable and interesting – no small feat for a series of simple recollections. He carries the narration through to the modern day, where he returns to see the house which his sister now occupies changed and foreign to him. Glandien guides the stories with rich tones that breathe life into the various vignettes, making unusual but embraceable audio environments. In addition to the narration there are several sampled voices throughout that help accentuate the story, and become vehicles for the rhythmic sections of the work. His pieces build slowly, using samples to segway major sections, such as the train samples that foreshadow Daelik's description of "tight-rope walking" the train rails nearby. Other pieces work as aural descriptions, as in "Huge Kitchen," which imparts the sense of a vast room through spacious sound. "Four Bedrooms" intercuts samples of Daelik's interphrase breathing and the fragments of his words to great affect. Glandien generally yields to and complements the tale, focusing on intentions and generating a sense of awe and mystery. His tonal pallette is wide, and his use of samples sophisticated and subtle. The sound weakens in the more overt percussive sections, where the quality of sound is thinner and the rhythms more static than in the more freeform pieces. That is the minority of the work, and in the larger perspective this is a well organized and mature electroacoustic piece.

by Phil Zampino (Publisher of 'The Squid's Ear')


Lutz Glandien – Lost In Rooms, A Virtualelectric Story

Four Bedrooms creates a claustrophobic atmosphere by glueing together syllables and syncopated beats. It is no longer one person talking, but an entire universe of language dancing at an unsettling pace. Ditto for Two Of My Sisters, that takes that concept to the groundfloor, Into a Better Room, that fuels a pounding drum'n'bass session, and for several industrial-music vignettes (All The Roads, As They Sunk).
Language is no longer intelligible in The Last Room, which sounds like a spectre walking the ailes of a haunted castle. Indirectly, this is also a study of the interaction between human life and its environment. The suspenseful and eventless soundscape of Like This collects the utterances of a female voice in its most intimate dimension.

by Piero Scaruffi
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Lutz Glandien – Lost in Rooms: A Virtualelectric Story

A 'melodrame concret' for the laptop generation, Lost in Rooms is a series of pieces in a wide range of electro styles, tied together by brief narrative interludes. There's a smattering of everything here, from Oval-esque loops made from skipping CDs, to urban industrial soundscapes, to noisy and pretty Fennesz-like melodies, to Aphex-on-amphetamines breakbeats. If some of this has been done better elsewhere, there's an ambition here that sets this disc apart. Glandien has tried to make a large-scale narrative work for laptop digitalia, something like what Symphonie pour un homme seul did for musique concrète.

Even if the narration is the distinctive feature of this disc, it's not altogether convincing. The narrator speaks with an indecisive qualtiy that makes him sound like a trainee college radio dj, and it's no surprise to discover that he's a dancer, not an actor. Given that Glandien has been working in radio drama and theatre for twenty years, one has to assume this uncertain quality is intentional, but it's hard to tell why. And the text is a bit underwhelming – 'The place where I grew up was really great ... I shared a bed with my brother in one room; two of my sisters had another room; my older sister had a room; and my parents the last room ..."

Fortunately, the music is often good, and much of it mixes in the speech more effectively, fragmented and distorted. Track 2 (Four Bedrooms) is probably the best of the lot, a very catchy loop of resonant percussion, slowly building with layers of reverberant breaths and unintelligible vocal fragments, punctuated with surprising bursts of distorted analog synths that sound straight out of Chion's Requiem. The open, surging dynamics work well, and it's hard to get the thing out of your head after hearing it twice.

The packaging advertises 'beats', but there's no drumkit anywhere before track 9 (Two of my Sisters), even if there's a lot of pulse and loop. Two of my Sisters is a coked up drum-machine piece, with about a dozen percussive sounds a second, but it doesn't stand out against the drum programming that every kid with a laptop is doing these days. It's the impression one gets throughout the disc – Glandien is a jack-of-all-trades, and only master of a few. The diversity is interesting, but some of the tracks sound like another artist's B-sides.

Despite the range of styles, there's a consistency throughout, which makes the whole work more compelling than some of the pieces are separately. The overall form, which moves from gentler melodic materials through aggressive industrial sounds, then back to something close to the opening, mimics the progression of the narrator, from his quiet house in the country out into the world, and finally returning to see his childhood home in a new light. The fragments of voice and percussion scattered through the disc tie everything together, as does the spatial processing, an exaggerated reverb that's a bit overdone.

There's a lot here that's usually considered the province of sonic art – spatial work, soundscape abstracts, narration – and a lot that's usually found in experimental electronica – glitches, pulses, and beats. Glandien tries to negotiate a meeting ground, adding in something like a story as well. Even if the work sounds very much of the present day, the ambition may be ahead of its time. I expect we'll see more productions that are part sonic art and part something else in the future.

Reviewed by Ian Stewart.
Ian teaches electroacoustic composition at London's City University.
He also works as a film critic for Contemporary Magazine.


Lost in Rooms
by Lutz Glandien

The radio personality Ann Arbor, named after the town where she attended university, has a show on the Silicon Valley station KFJC- FM where she reads twenty minutes of fiction or memoirs during morning rush hour "because [she] used to like it when people read to [her]." Listening to Lutz Glandien's Lost in Rooms, this reviewer thought the CD could fit on her show, not only for its short segments of spoken memoirs by a man named Daelik. Ann Arbor also likes Detroit techno, and over half of Lost in Rooms is a collection of danceable musical tracks with chopped vocals in the mix.

Daelik expounds on "The House" in a monotone comparable to Bruce Pavitt's recollections of "Debbie" on the cassette anthology Sub Pop 5 (1981). The "Four Bedrooms" slips a beat behind the voices in a way reminiscent of another project of that era, David Byrne and Brian Eno's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts". On the Daelik-centered cuts, Glandien privileges the linear coherence of the Canadian dancer's tales of house and home and evoked feelings above all other sounds. "Tightrope Walker" provides Daelik some sound effects like a 1930s radio drama. Yet Glandien works very differently in adroitly-constructed dance tracks. On these, rather than sentences, the composer prefers sampling discarded diphthongs and fricatives, the small software objects of spoken language. "Two of My Sisters" weaves these into a sputtering rhythm akin to Pink Floyd's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Grooving with a Pict" (1969). Cuts percolate with the beat of "All the Roads" and the jazzy dance "Into a Better Room", or – like the clamorously-climaxing "The Last Room" – are potential soundbeds waiting for texts. "Like This" is distinguished by Chinese language samples before it ends with an accordion or harmonica reverie, while "And They Sunk" is licked by a whispering, murmuring voice, distant and far from shelter.

Reviewed by Mike Mosher | Saginaw Valley State University
mosher@svsu.edu


Sea of Tranquility
Lost in Rooms
by Lutz Glandien

In the art rock world, there are pretenders and then there are the real deals. Lutz Glandien proves himself very firmly ensconced in the second camp on this mind-bending, claustrophobic exploration into the confining wilderness of the soul. Soft but nevertheless eerie spoken word pieces are juxtaposed with challenging, boundary-eroding music. It’s dance music for the brain as shapes and figures unfold before your eyes, recombine and create something that can only be described as a collage of the deepest recesses of the senses. Highlights include “All The Roads,” “LIke This” and the penultimate destruction of the senses “Into A Better Room.” This is the kind of thing that those who champion fringe music need to go back and listen to. Consider it art rock 101.

by Jedd Beaudoin

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