Machinefabriek & Stephen Vitiello – Box Music (12K)

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For Box Music Stephen Vitiello and Rutger Zuydervelt stray from their respective pet musical obsessions and show that they can create dazzling work out of any raw material. As though straw into gold, plain old everyday objects of various sorts – egg cutters, chocolate sprinkles, broken records, etc – are rendered aesthetically pleasing in their hands. But despite this fact, they aren’t exactly treated in an eclectic, permissive manner, nor are they progressively weakened or complicated by levels of excess.

The ensuing tracks therefore manage to go without sounding like a cry for adult supervision. Vitiello and Zuydervelt display a very clear and complementary manner in the handling of these sounds. In their combination of openness and refined technical ability they not only provide sophisticated interpretations of these trace sounds but they also show themselves to be imaginative programmers in the ways in which they distance these skewed sounds from their respective natural objects. Now and again a chiming bell or thumb piano retains its distinctive voice, punctuating and vivifying the proceedings, but even then they interact in animated chatter, quarrelsome exchanges or reverberant accord.

Oftentimes it is their almost complete disappearance that makes this album so becoming. The consistent potentialization of the everyday turns it into something really real, and thus surreal. A different sort of unknown region is therefore opened up; and the mysteriousness of the recordings sets in motion a search for identities and meaningful correlations. Insofar as this is maintained, Box Music progresses well beyond its intriguing concept – it uses it to spur on an ingenious work of surprising gaiety.

Max Schaefer

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