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CHOP SHOP : Oxide
23five012, Compact Disc
published in 2008
out of print

Chop Shop is the moniker of New York based sound artist Scott Konzelmann, whose activities have comprised installations featuring his speaker construction assemblages and sonic compositions since 1987. There have been plenty of micro-edition CD-R releases, 2 noted 3”CDs for the prestigious V2 label, several old school cassettes, a handful of singles, and two legendary 10" vinyl productions. One of which was a double 10" bound in roofing tar strapped to a plate of steel. The other was a split 10" with Small Cruel Party, which was literally chopped in half and assembled on the listener’s turntable at their needle’s peril. 23five Incorporated is delighted to present Oxide, the long overdue full-length CD from Chop Shop.

Konzelmann's sound and noise are intrinsically connected to his sculptural objects. Forged from repurposed junkyard fragments fitted with functional loudspeakers, these objects compress and articulate particular frequencies into hissing static, jet-engine drones, and noxious rumbles, all of which retain a metallurgist residue. Such were the sounds on the original analogue tapes of Oxide; unfortunately, those tapes had endured what Konzelmann merely qualifies as "an unhappy accident," which caused extensive and prolonged moisture damage to the tapes. In revisiting these tapes, Konzelmann discovered drop-outs and print-throughs, as ghostly noises shadowed his muscular drone music. The tape itself had also begun to crumble during playback, making an eerily similar parallel to William Basinski's Disintegration Loops. However, Chop Shop does not share Basinski's melancholy theatrics, and Oxide dials in a proper dose of distilled contemporary sonic dead-tech mantra through a leaden stream paralleling the Hafler Trio's Intoutof.






REVIEWS:

Brainwashed.com
May 4, 2008

The inevitable fallibility of magnetic media can, while being frustrating as all hell to an artist, provide the impetus for an even better creation. Oxide represents such a creative disaster: old cassettes and reels of tape had been accidentally subjected to moisture damage. Instead of tossing them, Scott Konzelmann strung them up and pulled what he could off of the decaying tape and built this new work out of the remnants in his first full length release in quite awhile.

The structure of the single 49 minute track alone is a metaphor for the fickle nature of magnetic tape: it has a very cut & paste quality, but without the per-sample perfection of digital audio editing tools. Instead, it feels raw and unpolished, like art based on rotting audiotape should. The rough structure is only amplified by the actual sounds that lie within it. Sonically it is a rather noisy work, sounds resembling machinery rattles, amplified sandpaper, abrasive textures, etc. It is jarring at times, listening to what may simply be amplified and processed tape hiss requires careful attention to hear subtleties before the listener is slapped in the face by a raw blast of pure audio sludge. From the sound of things, it doesn't sound like a great deal of processing was used to the original raw material, since it sill retains such an unaffected, analog quality. The original sounds were based around Konzelmann’s traditional approach to music: utilizing various junkyard sonic installations to create a veritable Sanford and Son noise orchestra. However, the decay of tape makes this less relevant but doesn't hamper the artistic quality of the work. The actual sound of decay that is presented here is by far its strongest asset: the listener can practically hear the creases in the tape, pieces of magnetic oxide that may have flaked off due to environmental damage, mold blocking the tape heads, etc. Often, the minimal nature of the damage is fascinating: the sub-bass hum and crackle at around the 17 minute mark are among the most compelling audio textures I've heard in material like this. The parts that are more dissonant rank up there with the best of the analog noise kings, before folks like Merzbow traded in their junk gear for Powerbooks.
     
The overarching analog sound of this work is what makes it stand on its own amongst its peers. No matter how complex one can make a Max/MSP patch, or how many modules one can load into Reaktor, getting textures and sounds like are found here simply isn't the same. Perhaps the most adept artists could model sounds like this, but I'm skeptical that it would retain the same warmth and fascinating microcosmic worlds that are here. An abstract, occasionally violent, but undeniably amazing collection of accidental textures and sounds. -- Creaig Dunton


Bad Alchemy
May 2008

Bei Chop Shop denken die Eingewiehten sofort an ganz speziell verpackte Sammlerstücke, Kassetten, 3"-, 5"-, 7"- oder 10" Scheiben zwischen Stahlplatten, Dachpappe und dergleichen, die ab 1989 bei Banned Prod., Pure, RRRecords over V2_Archief herauskamen. Scott Konzelmann erschien in der Noise Culture damit als amerikanischer Vetter von Zoviet*France, auch wenn seine Klangwelt sich aus anderen Quellen speiste. Hier greift er in die hinteren Winkel seines Archivs, zu Bändern, denen der Zahn der Zeit, Feuchtigkeit und andere Missgeschicke böse zugesetzt hatte. Lost efforts, recovered. Aber den Beschädigungen, dem Verfall und Verlust gewinnt er nun neue Reize ab. Wie ein Archäologe oder Crime Scene Investigator versucht er, die in Eisenoxid und Chromdioxid gespeicherten Spuren zu sichern und zu lesen. Oft ist er nur ein letzter Seufzer, ein letztes Stottern, ein letztes Furzen, ein wummerndes, grummeliges, zischendes Implodieren, bevor die Bänder endgültig zebröseln. Die Schönhein des Zerfalls? Die Sublimität des Anästhetischen? Konzelmanns Ernte ist unspektakulär, die Geste als solche hat aber genau jene Poesie, die von Recycled Music bis Rusty Hum sein Oeuvre bestimmt. 


D-Side
July 2008

Sculpteur autant que musicien, c'est principalement à travers des installations que la New-yorkais Scott Konzelmann développe une oeuvre faite de haut-parleurs et d'éléments récupérés dans des décharges. Rien d'étonnant donc à ce que pour lui, le son soit davantage caractérisé par sa matérialité que par sa musicalité. Et si Oxide est le premier album CD réalisé sous l'identité de Chop Shop (après nombre de vinyles et cassettes depuis 1989), le matériau sonore utilisé est loin d'être récent, puisqu'il est constitué de bandes retrouvées qui avaient commencé à moisir et tombaient en ruine à mesure que Konzelmann tentaient d'en sauvegarder les données. Fantôme du passé, Oxide est donc particulièrement marqué par l'entropie, celle-ci imprimant aux drones, habituellement très métallique et agressifs de Chop Shop, une patine qui n'est pas sans rappeler celle que William Basinski avait fait subir à ses Disintegration Loops. Assemblé, ou laissés tel quels, qui sait, en une seule longue piste où les accidents (chutes de son, sautes brutales, flou bouillonnant) prennent autant d'importance que les sources sonores elles-mêmes, Oxide est brillante étude du tempes qui passe et de ses effets délétères sur la musique. -- Jean-François Micard


Musique Machine
June 2008

Oxide's tense, stark and white neon bleak soundworlds are built from corrupted, decaying and damp ruined taped elements & Over the piece's near on hour playing time a very real feeling of anticipation, dread and starkness is built up, that at times almost reachers fever pitch. The piece is built from layers and textures of tape corruption and decay taking in all manner of muffled, stuck, droning and latter agitated tone. It all starts off relatively stretched out and fairly pedestrian if still very bleak, I guess best described as greyed & pale ambient air. As it progresses the shifting from one texture to another gets more rapid & there’s also a greater layering and knitting together of the sound layers as it gets more suffocating and connored-in in it’s feel. The deeper you get into it feels more and more as if your been slowly swallowed by the sounds stark and muffled presences and increasing weight of atmosphere. It's a dammed journey into stark, draining and bleak space with no harmonic or pleasing textures to be found- this is one of the most airless, mean spirited and hopeless things you’ll ever have audio swam through, yet it keeps you attention fixed unwavering through out it’s decaying and wearing out decline. With Oxide, Chop shops Scott Konzelmann has managed to build a draining, sometimes jarring and noisy- but always compelling long shifting sound canvas, which through simple in it's concept is deeply rewarding and replayble. -- Roger Batty


Octopus
July 2008 

Chop Shop c'est la petite boutique pas bien nette au fond de la cour, celle qui vend des pices détachées d'occasion dont la provenance est douteuse. Autrement dit l'intégrité et le bon fonctionnement du matériel qu'on peut y trouver sont tout sauf garantis! Chop Shop c'est aussi le nom qu'a choisi Scott Konzelmann, artiste sonore dont on sait peu de choses mais dont le modus operandi est en accord total avec le pseudonyme. On remonte la trace du bonhomme jusqu'en 1987, date de ses premiers essais en recyclage sonore qui l'associrent à l'esthétique industrielle. Depuis, son travail n'a été disponible que par intermittence à travers des éditions trs limitées (cassettes, CDR...), expliquant peut tre que ce nom demeure essentiellement inconnu du large public. C'était sans compter sur l'excellent label 23Five qui entend bien changer les choses en publiant le premier CD longue durée de Chop Shop aprs plus de vingt ans d'activité ! Le titre de cette unique et longue plage, "Oxide", dit presque tout de son contenu. C'est en effet à partir de bandes magnétiques, partiellement abimées aprs un "regrettable accident", que Konzelmann a construit cette pice mystérieuse, tirant partie du caractre hautement dégradable du matériau de base. La texture des bandes, déjà bien r‰peuse, n'en est que plus irrégulire, parsemée de microtraumatismes et de distorsions intimement liés à l'usure inéluctable de l'oxyde de fer ou de chrome. On a l'impression que des fragments de longueur aléatoire ont été coupés et assemblés laborieusement à la colleuse : une démarche pour le moins marginale à l're de la précision digitale, clinique et sans défaut. Le résultat est des plus intrigants car si la dimension physique de la pice est palpable, elle n'en demeure pas moins ostensiblement mécanique et déshumanisée. Avis aux amateurs. -- Jean-Claude Gevrey


Vital Weekly
Number 625, April 29, 2008

This filled me with much pleasure, as I never expected this. Towards the end of the 80s and in the early 90s, when we were still firm industrial music lovers, Chop Shop was one of our heroes. Not because he was so incredible loud, but his loudspeaker installations looked raw and sounded good. No, actually they sounded 'rusty', as well as a rusty look. Through his speaker installations Chop Shop, the one man band of Scott Konzelmann fed a blend of decayed sounds, taken from all sorts of machinery, sonic residue taped on cheap cassette tape or reel to reel tape machines. Much more serious in his approach than the average noise maker, Konzelmann was already more a visual artist than a musician. I have no idea why he 'left' the scene, or why we didn't hear his name that much in the last ten years, but it's good to hear Oxide. Salvaged from old, damaged tapes, which caused 'flaking, static, dropouts and print through'. If you never saw or heard a cassette or a reel tape - and in these digital days that is probably a lot of people - it's hard to understand what static or dropouts are. Listening to Oxide is a like being transported back in time, to the era of cassettes, hiss, when the music dropped a bit due to an imperfection of the cassette tape. Konzelmann takes all of these sounds, of pure hiss, of loud machine noise, of decay, of erosion and creates his Oxide piece with it. He deliberately leaves in the 'unwanted' breaks, the mistakes and the faults, but his piece is, at least for me who heard pretty much everything of his 'old' music, a true delight. Great to see this on CD and becoming more easy to access, but surely its time to out some of the older releases and have a nostalgic evening of humming noise. -- Frans de Waard 


The Sound Projector
May 2008

Chop Shop is the New York sound-art veteran Scott Kunzelmann. His Oxide (23FIVE CDP 801673901225) is derived from tapes of his metallic sculptures, junkyard specialities which have featured heavily in his steely soundworks from over 20 years. Those fearing a brutal assault on the ears need not worry however, as this 49-minute CD is an intriguing assemblage of long-form abrasive drones, whose varying timbral qualities have been further distressed by moisture damage sustained by the original tapes. Cover imagery features a close-up photograph of a morass of unspooled cassette tape forming a worm-like jungle of disturbing proportions, and it arrives in an embossed slipcase bearing Chop Shop’s emblem. -- Ed Pinsent


ChainDLK
July 2008

Though active since 1987, US noisemaker Scott Konzelmann is not really one of the most prolific artists around, so this Oxide cd was hailed as a sort of event. If you're familiar with past Chop Shop releases, not much has changed - crude sections of feedback noise/drones aired through modified loudspeakers, here battling with the defects of damaged tapes (expect some extra hiss and abrupt overlapping). It's grey, raw static music, whose gritty textures tend to acquire a sort of atmospheric feel. If you can imagine a more physical and unrefined version of López's "ambient" untitled works, you'll get close to the listening experience of Oxide. On the other hand, it comes as no surprise that these static sound masses have been mentioned as a fundamental influence by the master of today's wall-noise, Richard Ramirez/Werewolf Jerusalem. Killer packaging with embossed cardboard jacket and an excellent layout throughout. -- Eugenio Maggi


Signal To Noise
#52, Winter 2009

The oxidation and ultimate corruption of magnetic tape has inspired a wealth of creative endeavors in recent times, perhaps most notably William Basinski's elegant Disintegration Loops. Increasingly in the post-glitch age, other elements of failure in our media have become opportunities for inspiration and compositional / improvisational chance -- something clearly articulated on this new release by Chop Shop, aka Scott Konzelmann, which takes full advantage of chance drop-outs and other audio hiccups. Konzelmann is best known for his provacative "junk-made" installation work, in which he labors to create unique speaker configurations that alter the way in which his inputs are heard. His archive of tapes documenting his various works was damaged to moisture and on Oxide these tainted drones, industrial whirs, and corroded tones are crudely (and no doubt intentionally) placed side by side in counterpoint. At times, this release is live a drive along a highway dotted with industrial plants -- each new texture filling the sound field entirely. It's at times harrowing stuff, but as the work wears on the textures are reduced and by the end of the piece, you're left with something that could be an air conditioner in your window. This could easily have been a dry exercise in monochromatic sound, but the results of Konzelmann's salvage project are a worthy journey of considered density. - Lawrence English


Scrapyard Forecast
January 2009

Damage. Decay. Loss.

These are the first three words on the cardboard insert. When it comes to music, those three words ring like, well... music, to my ears. As far as I can remember my first real experience with decaying sound was discovering Basinski's Disintegration Loops a few years back. Probably around the same time I heard Discreet Music. Needless to say, they both blew me away and ever since, in my musical hunting I've made a focused effort in searching out music that somehow embodies that same decayed or damaged quality. This past year has blown the old rotting doors wide open, with discoveries like Philip Jeck and his record crackle compositions, Liz Harris's distant and dying instrumental vocal weave, Organum and Ferial Confine, who's metal scrapings play out like a score for a post-apocalyptic world, all crumbling smoke stalks and bleeding industry. And thus, capping out the year in discovery, with Oxide at the foot of my doorstep.

As an artist, dabbling in the analogue realm can be a terribly frustrating task: ripped tape splices, dropouts, editing limitations, and "misfit reels" as Chop Shop's Scott Konzelmann puts it. But despite the limitations, magnetic tape can encapsulate a particular warmth to the sounds that becomes lost among the laptop wranglers, because I'm sorry, but there will never be a plug-in for 'decayed analogue feel' that would do the real thing any justice. Therefore, Konzelmann's misfit reels embody not only the sounds within them, but also act like an ode to a lost art in sound making. And it is within these reels that Konzelmann was able to unravel this 49 minute opus. The story goes that a number of original reels of the Chop Shop archive suffered extensive and prolonged moisture damage. Instead of throwing these away, Konzelmann decided to go through the arduous task of salvaging particular sections and then slowly reworking them into a new piece. This eventually turned into the blanketing static and rumbling generator drones that make up 'Oxide'. A skillful screening of inevitable loss and decay. Check it out. -- Adrian Dziewanski


Foxy Digitalis
August 2008

23five is a new label for me and with further investigation I was impressed by their back catalogue. The previous output had included personal favourites, Zbigniew Karkowski and Francisco Lopez. In terms of audio expectations this pointed towards avant-garde sound art over the DIY execution of tape noise outfits. (The end result was somewhere in between but leaned more toward the avant-garde). Also new for me was the name Chop Shop the moniker for New York based sound artist, Scott Konzelmann. For over twenty years Konzelmann has produced varied sound art and a mere handful of physical releases in an astonishing variation of formats. Notable outputs have even landed him releases for the highly successful V2 label.

This record plays like a documentary, reminding me of the exquisite compilations of nature recorder Chris Watson. It's made up of one 50 minute track that's been surgically sliced into smaller particles with the aid of silence. The sound is comprised from a scrapbook of decaying and dying sounds. Many of the recordings document the final death-rattle of badly damaged and decaying tapes. Konzelmann comprised various scraps of salvaged tape after an unhappy accident, which resulted in a large quantity of the original Oxide recordings being badly damaged by moisture. Konzelmann decided he would rescue his efforts in completing the record as a document to decay.

The various sounds are full of hiss and wavering drones. Simple, yet organically complex in its irregularity, the sound rests somewhere between William Basinski and the Halfler Trio; with a little of the darkness of Zoviet France's minimal work. This is sound that warrants attention, and which would sit more comfortably in a gallery space rather than one's living room or on one's headphones. Airport ventilation and inner-storm rumblings gather and lose momentum in what feels like considered randomness. This is a tightly composed piece executed with precise attention and a deep appreciation for each sound sequence, rather than trusting to randomness and destruction. The slow trudge towards the inevitable conclusion of death bares comparison to the video work of Bill Viola and his study of decaying fruit and animals. It voices the wonderment of natures directing hand in manipulating our ephemeral efforts. -- Peter Taylor


Disquiet
September 2008

The oxide that serves as the title to the recent album by Chop Shop, on the 23five label, is no figment, no metaphor, no mere familiar nod to natural, organic dissolution in our age of cold, digital meditation. It’s all too real, this oxidation. The title refers to the “damage. decay. loss.” — as the brief liner note puts it — that came to an archive of old audio tape belonging to Chop Shop, a pseudonym of sound artist Scott Konzelmann. To rectify the destruction by accident, time, and neglect, Konzelmann dove into the ruins of his archive, not to reconstruct the original material (it wasn’t, one imagines, salvageable) but to appreciate those ruins in their own right and on their own terms. The result is a CD consisting of one single track, divided into distinct segments of droning, noisy static that are the true sound of audio damage. There is white noise that sounds like the gaping maw of some malevolent spirit, and wisps of ether that are as soothing as an afternoon breeze. The lesson is clear, the passing of time brings both sorrow and comfort. That the album progresses from the desolate to the refined, from noise to quietude, suggests that Konzelmann has made peace with his loss. If nothing else, it has proven, as a result of this stark recording, to be our gain. -- Marc Weidenbaum


Ox Fanzine
January 2009

CHOP SHOP ist ein Kunst-/Klangprojekt und so sollte man sich dieser CD auch nähern. Tut man es nicht und begutachtet nur die rein musikalische Seite, so wäre hier die Besprechung auch schon wieder zu Ende, denn soundtechnisch Neues oder gar Aufregendes wird hier nun wirklich nicht geboten. Einfache, schlichte Noisedrones. Dumpf. Zusammenhanglos. Ohne jede erkennbare Richtung und ohne Sinn. Interessant wird es erst, wenn man die Geschichte dazu hört, die auch im Booklet kurz angerissen wird. Scott Konzelmann treibt sich ja schon seit circa 1987 in der Szene umher und eigentlich baut er Skulpturen, die auch Lautsprecher enthalten, und für welche diese speziellen Aufnahmen eigentlich gemacht wurden. Ausstellungen kommen, Ausstellungen gehen. Tonbänder werden angefertigt, Tonbänder werden vergessen. Tonbänder zersetzten sich selbstständig. Künstler kommt. Hört Bänder und setzt die „natürlich“ veränderten Klänge wieder neu zusammen. The Process Is The Product! – Oder, die Frage sei gestattet: Wer hat in dieser unseren schnelllebigen Zeit, wo jeder Klang per Internet eigentlich immer und überall abrufbar ist, noch die Ruhe und Muße, auf Veränderungen zu warten, um sie dann – und das ist entscheidend – für sich zu nutzen? -- Carsten Vollmer


Skug
August 2009

Der New Yorker Scott Konzelmann, seit den späten 1980ern als Industrial- und Installationsklangkünstler unterwegs, ist spezialisiert auf seltsame Formate und aufwändige Verpackungen, die bei V2, Banned Prod., RRR oder seinem eigenen Label Generator Sound Art erschienen. Ähnlich wie etwa Hafler Trio, Zoviet:France oder auch frühe Merzbow kultiviert Chop Shop eine Variante von Soundart, die sich explizit mit dem Verfall auseinandersetzt. Für die vorliegende Scheibe, übrigens seine erste Fulltime-CD überhaupt, hat sich Konzelmann alten Tapes aus seinem Archiv angenommen. Das pure, ungefilterte Rauschen des vom Zahn der Zeit durchlöcherten Materials erweist sich als eine Reise zurück in Analogzeiten - es rumpelt, zischt und kratzt an allen Ecken und Enden, eingefasst in eine ambientartige Drone-Landschaft. Aber das eigentlich Wichtige ist die Affirmation des Materiellen. Denn in der Ära des Laptops sind Bandschleifenausfälle und sonstige Betriebsgeräusche schlicht suspendiert. »Oxide« arbeitet mit Geräuschen, die wie ein geisterhafter Negativabzug digitaler Musikproduktionen daherkommen. Sinnigerweise ziert das Cover von »Oxide« jener Kassettenbändersalat, aus dem diese CD gemacht wurde. Erinnert mich von der Grobkörnigkeit her an Filme von Stan Brakhage oder Ernst Schmidt Jr. Sound-Archäologie der reinsten Sorte. -- Heinrich Deisl