Work For GV 2004-2008 – Peter Rehberg

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By Nick Richardson

This new release from electronic music pioneer and Editions Mego boss Peter Rehberg collects the music he wrote for French choreographer Gisèle Vienne between 2004 and 2008. Given the music is taken from three different productions, I Apologize, Une Belle Enfant Blonde and Jerk, and written over a period of four years, the album is remarkable for the coherence of its aesthetic–one that takes in melodic synth excursions, hi-tech sound design and harsh noise.

Several of the tracks feature extracts from Dennis Cooper’s libretti, read by the writer himself. Divorced from their contexts, the passages are subsumed by the music–rendered abstract, Cooper’s deadpan enunciations an instrumental foil to the HD of Rehberg’s sound design. Yet they also root the music in the real world and impose material significance on it. The incendiary, distorted drone that erupts from the narration on “ML6” becomes the expression of the violence of Cooper’s text, its whoosh and grind an extension of the fragmented tale of treachery.

The highlights of the record though are without doubt textless pieces. The awkward, measured synth melody of “Slow Investigation,” with its microtonal shifts somehow joining the dots between Vangelis and Harry Partch, breaking into processed harpsichord and abstract glitch crackle then floating a cloud of melancholic chords over the top, gilded with high-frequency shimmer. Or the sinister intricacies of “Murder Version,” which mixes gongs, bells and lo-end rumble with whistling and mechanical ticking, embedding you in the mechanism of a giant clock. The highlight of highlights is “Boxes Of Angels,” which sweeps a dappled, air-combed pad of heartbreaking harmony through filter vortices, wrapping itself around you like a warm wind and bearing you to the heavens.

The material on this record is more than capable of standing on its own two feet, without Vienne’s productions to prop it up. It is testament not only to the aesthetic unity of Peter Rehberg’s music, but that of his label Editions Mego, which has gone from releasing glitch electronica in its early days, through to the heavy drone of KTL (Rehberg’s duo with Stephen O’Malley) and recent noise releases by Kevin Drumm and Prurient. Work For GV 2000-2004 is tantamount to a demonstration of the consistency of these disparate sounds with each other.