Reshaping a sound that corresponds to a landmark of minimalist intensity – namely Charlemagne Palestine's fiercely obstinate piano strumming - is not something that many people even dream about, much less achieve. Yet Christoph Heemann shows how this mission can be accomplished, maintaining the American maverick’s original traits visible despite his subtraction of the most markedly percussive aspects of his relentless tolling.
What happens in less than half a hour is the birth of a new beast, a hybrid sonic warning where expert ears won't struggle in recognizing echoes of Mirror, Organum and Niblock disguised under the clothes of outrageous clusters and reverberations. It takes only a few moments - in both sides of this vinyl album - for the vibrating mass to take command, any restriction forgotten, hordes of aggressive upper partials putting the body through a storm of quivering roars and powerful oscillations. The whole is underscored by massive rumbles, Palestine's Bosendorfer (which for the occasion was taped in 2000 at the Ludwig Museum in Aachen) a dangerous machine capable of inviting the courageous ones to a thorough absorption by a weighty wall of sound - for this REALLY is, not Phil Spector's.
The dam by now broken, waterfalls of misshapen chords denote the conversion from almost elementary gestures to a multiple refraction of the light emitted by two akin souls. There's no looking back. After repeating the experience over and over, we reinforce our intolerance against inferior music.
Rare specimens of creators own the gift of turning every move they decide to make into untainted art. Palestine and Heemann have reached a clamorous balance between enlightened grandeur and utter closure towards cheap-mindedness. This record sounds dangerously close to an exclusion of huge percentages of mortals from certain types of authentic harmonic comprehension. It has to be that way, though, and one feels kind of sorry for those who are left out.
But the sympathy lasts thirty seconds, before the survivors enter the dome of vibration once again to receive the ultimate blessing.
Streamline (distributed by Drag City)