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Dip Your Ears, No. 258 (Bernd Klug's CD From Hell)

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Bernd Klug, cold commodities
Bernd Klug (electronics, editing)

At the recent opening of the 2019 “Wien Modern” month-long contemporary music shenanigans, I sat through a piece that piped ear-splitting white noise into the hall behind which an orchestra, virtually unheard, went through the motions. It was an arrogant joke but at least it was something of a (juvenile) statement in the context of a live performance. Before me is a disc that hasn’t even got that excuse. “A male black wearing white, red and black stripes” (written for a noble cause, as you can gather) sounds like someone recorded a tool shop being operated by drunkards. Add microphone feedback and police radio transmission into the mix and you have the opening bullshit piece of Bernhard Klug’s “cold commodities”. In fact, this and all that follows are, to quote from the composer’s notes, “sonifications of a satellite dish, [a] recording device’s CPU [this would explain why I thought my computer had crashed, after putting the CD in],[a] wireless router […] and a cupreous donkey.” Enjoy!

It’s just – literally – an assemblage of noise. Put this into a museum’s art installation on some pretentious topic, and it might have found its niche. On CD, posturing as “music”, it’s got no place. Life is too short for being taken for a fool by experimental narcissists. The whole thing gives contemporary music a bad name. Shame. And yes, sure, “What Is This Thing Called Jazz” briefly sounds like a jazz bassist improvising for a minute out of 54. But you could also get those sounds simply by listening to a jazz bassist improvising on an album of, say, jazz. Unbelievable that this sort of thing still flies in 2019 (or 2013, the year of the recording) and even more unfathomable that anyone should listen to this for any sort of enjoyment. Unless I underestimate the masochist market.


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