Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from N.Strahl.N, the 2xC50 cassette "Transmitter". A joint release from the German Licht Und Stahl label and Japan's Deserted Factory label. (No, me neither)...
I have become familiar over the past 13,14 months with the sound of N.Strahl.N and I always like what I hear. The sounds are sounds I want to hear and they send me to places that I want to go, it is always time well spent listening to N.Strahl.N and this release is no different.
N.Strahl.N is the project of German sound sculptor Mario W. Lohr. He is also the MD of the Licht Und Stahl label. There is also a side project called Stahlenzentrum which is like Mario's answer to Nigel Ayer's "Spanner Thru' My Beatbox" project but then again perhaps not....
"Transmitter" is packaged in a video box, containing two tapes an inner tract and a small booklet called "Mind Control - Angriff Auf Die Freiheit" which is written in German so is no use to me. This is a concept album (Konzeptalbum) in as such as the first three sides are of recordings using field recordings of transmitting devices. A: "Mindscreen" - the television. B: "Zeitpapier" - the newspaper and C: "Athernarkose" - shortwave radio frequencies. Side D is a reinterpretation piece, I shall come to later.
"Mindscreen" uses raw static sounds, electric waterfalls before a pulsating bass enters and builds into a decaying cacophony, whilst at all times a clock is ticking. "Zeitpapier" uses the sound of a contact microphone over newspaper, it also sounds like moving furniture is mic'ed up too. Then it all starts to sound like Throbbing Gristle's "Journey Through A Body", especially the piece "Medicine", it is all rather good when a heavy stamping rhythm enters ( a printing press?) and a chiming clock. Clever stuff, the track has the same construction as "Mindscreen". "Athernarkose" (Ether Narcotics) starts with the chaos of frequencies looped before breaking into disembodied voices plucked from the ether. Deutsche Radio. I love the sound of Deutsche Radio.
I know lots of folk have constructed pieces culled from treating shortwave radio, both myself and Dave Uden were doing it back in 1979, but it is not easy. Mario seems to be a master at it all.
The frequencies and voices drift into minimal clicks and glitches before going a bit new-age spacey (synthesizers are being used here) and ending.
The fourth side features four projects re-interpreting the tracks. Called "Nachsendung" (Redirection) it starts with Galerie Schallschutz building looped walls out of "Mindscreen". I like Galerie Schallschutz. I haven't heard enough and I want to hear more. last year we appeared on the same compilation CD twice; "Stahlerne Lichter (Licht Und Stahl) and "Encyclopedia Of Industrial Music Volume 3" (Impulsy Stetoskopu) but have never come across an available release. maybe this year. Feu Follet (no, me neither) redirect "Zeitpapier" into some synthy washout with faux Japanese percussion. Flutwacht + Mystified both use "Athernarkose" as their source. Flutwacht add a (harsh) wall of noise to the disembodied voices and Mystified make it a dance mix - a good dance mix, like Column One or Raster-Noton.

If this album was released in 1985/86 and was part of the Psychic TV "Themes" series or was part of Adi Newton's "Meontological Research Recording" project then it would have been hailed an inspirational classic and now demanding a days wage for purchase but "Transmitter" was released in 2010 on a limited edition of 50 on cassette tape, it shall be missed by so many.
Copies may still be available. or are worth a try. Perhaps someone will re-release it? It'd make a cracking double album.

1: Transmitter Sleeve.
2: Inner tract.
3: Booklet.

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