G*PARK : Sub
23five018, Double Compact Disc
release date: September 24, 2013
$15.98, plus shipping
The most enigmatic of the Schimpfluch-Gruppe, Marc Zeier is the man behind G*Park; and here, he presents his first major album since the acclaimed 2008 album of cryptic electro-acoustics entitled Reuters. Many years in the making, Sub is a sprawling masterpiece of modern day musique concrete, reflecting the early pioneers' use of razor cut tape with a grandiose revelation of an existential horror. Zeier describes this album as the manifestation of amorphous conditions that lead to (or interfere with) representational forms or states of being. His examples of the shifting patterns from clouds of blackbirds or the clinging masses from algae blooms are rudimentary entry points for his rhizomatic, chimerical work.
For every malignant drone and turgid thrumming, Zeier will puncture his fluttering, frozen methane surfaces with jagged incisions, pneumatic hammerings, and decompressed gasps. This fragmented punctuation is a signature to the G*Park aesthetic, used highly effectively in mapping his clinical situations turned septic. The titles to the tracks on Sub address the physical attributes of the source material that went into each track, with some decidedly specific ("Swine", "Wasp", "Stone") and others nebulously abstract ("Purge", "Glow", "Pulse"). For Zeier, the exact nature of the sound object is informed more by a shadowy deconstruction than by a direct representation, thrust into an absurd existence as an abomination, a violation, a monster.
Sub locates itself near the psychological minefields of Luc Ferrari, Steven Stapleton's prediliction for windows, and the cruel x-ray visions from fellow Swiss aktionists Sudden Infant & Dave Phillips.
This is like being trapped in the bubbling workings of a psychotic mind, reason lost in a fevered turmoil of carrion flies waltzing with the concrete scrape of the speakers. Feels like your head’s being invaded (especially on headphones) – neurons, a rutted dirt track between left and right hemispheres, full of scythed MRI slices and quaking vellum, scuttling insects and the odd snorting beast. Disembodied electro-acoustics that disconcert, shunt, scamper, effectively break through that brittle listener/musician divide. The hairy, diseased colouration of the cover sets the scene, like a petri dish pixilation of an autopsy. An autopsy of sound; a trickle of psychological uncertainties that play brilliantly with your imagination. Feels like something coming through the wall at you, as if the dust has been magnified or displaced by invisible worms gnawing behind the skirting, prising at the rusting tacks and plaster. Late night plays of this freak me out like Zero Kama‘s human bone orchestrations still do. That scurrying of crumbling debris gets right under your skin, seems to chew on your skull, whereas other bits remind me of the claustrophobic grace that those French brothers Etant Donnes wield, punching at the psyche in abrupt potent dramas. Jittery bombs that explode, explore, picking locks to those less travelled corridors of your mind. You’re a hostage to sensation, with no idea what’s going to happen next. Things take you unawares, sudden strangled gasps of feathered asphyxiation, the brief blooms of rupturing unpleasantness spewing from the drones. As you can probably tell I’m smitten – I love this sort of thing. It could be pushed a smidgen more extreme maybe, but I’m not complaining. It’s a vivid and descriptive bleed of natural/synthetic diameters and nervous detailing that hits the spot. A momentum whose smothered contours revel in a gristly play of hissological hum and reoccurring weathered swarms, punctuated in the oblique sawings of motorised scupper. Loving the ambiguity – is that beaten grain or the flap of large wing spans? Questions caught in the whir of a blender. The physicality too; gleaming with sounds that are ‘surreally’ real, that bone-dry displacement of pebbles fooling your eyes to follow a rolling descent into nowhere, or the way crow caws are abruptly scissored from the cord-pulled corpse of a porcelain doll. I only ever heard Marc Zeier‘s work on compilations before, his atmospheres always tantalisingly vibrant but far too brief; great to finally listen to a whole double album’s worth. -- Michael Rodham-Heaps
Affiliated with the Schimpfluch-Gruppe collective, Marc Zeier has managed to be one of the lower profile members of the loosely-knit group, and also one who’s work is perhaps the most understated. Without the visceral, nauseating organic sounds of Rudolf Eb.er or the occasionally jolly, punk-tinged absurdism of Joke Lanz, Zeier’s work has been one that emphasizes the sound more than the presentation. Not an overly prolific composer, Sub makes for a major release in its two-disc duration and use of recognizable, but still heavily treated everyday sounds to create a work that captivates as well as terrifies.
For a large portion of Sub, the concept is relatively simple: Zeier uses mundane sound sources as a basis for the compositions, often identified clearly in the title. "Ice" obviously uses the sounds of cracking and breaking ice blocks amidst running water at various points throughout. However, the surrounding near-silence and unidentifiable, heavily processed inorganic outbursts make for a different sound entirely, and are were the true strength lies. On "Swine," this use of overt recordings is perhaps the most clear: the first recorded moments that appear are the grunting and snorting of pigs. The heavy processing that fall into almost rhythmic passages and restrained segments serve to intensify the tension that is violently relieved when heavily amplified snarls and growls appear. Recordings of pigs at slaughterhouses were used to excellent effect in The Exorcist, and Zeier does similar, chilling things with them here. Even though "Wasp" would indicate the sound of another relatively unpleasant organism, he instead chooses to obscure the source material heavily here, save for the occasional menacing buzz that appears and then floats away. The processed bits end up as a series of hollow, out of focus noises and textures that might not be as disturbing, but instead works greatly as a cautious study of sonic texture and timbre. The 22-plus minute "Pulse" is another major piece in which the source material is clearly identified, but like "Wasp," it uses the pure recordings sparingly throughout its lengthy duration. What I assume to be heartbeats are deconstructed into wet, massive thumps and sickly creaks. Going through a cycle of lighter and darker passages, the natural rhythms are molded into heavy thuds and grotesque, sputtering outbursts of noise. It manages to stay still long enough for each element to be appreciated before rearranging into something else entirely, making for a dynamic, fascinating, if at times unpleasant recording.
Throughout the entire album, Zeier also makes liberal use of jarring, high volume outbursts that only slightly relieve the tension leading up to them: indistinct bursts of noise on "Stack," and the jackhammer like blasts of "Glow," are perfect examples of this. In the few cases where he does not employ this technique, such as on the more static "Purge," their absence is somewhat obvious and makes the piece stand out less than others. As an intentionally obscure album (the track listing does not appear anywhere on the disc or packaging, only on the label's website), Sub uses this obscurity to its best advantage. Even though those titles give away some of the source material utilized, I caught myself wondering throughout if that was the only object used on each one, and if not, what else was there? The more obtuse titles…what were they comprised of? Of course I do not need to know the answer to these questions to enjoy Zeier’s work, and I think it truly works best if he retains that “man behind the curtain” obscurity. This questioning and dissection, however, is one of the things that brought me back to this album many times for a closer examination. -- Creaig Dunton
Marc Zeier alias G*Park ist ein Teil der Extrem-Performance Gruppe Schimpfluch. Neben seinen Arbeiten mit Video, Performance und Installation veröffentlicht er auch seit dreißig Jahren Tonträger. Sub versammelt eine Reihe ruhiger, konkreter Klangcollagen mit Titeln wie “Swine”, “Wasp”, “Breath” und “Ice”, die wohl die Ausgangsklangelemente bezeichnen, die jeweils verwendet wurden. Andere wie “Stack”, “Purge” oder “Glow” sind vielleicht Assoziationen des Künstlers zu den Ergebnissen seiner Arbeit. Die Atmosphäre ist grundsätzlich eher unwirtlich, unfreundlich und unheimlich gehalten. Klanglich sind die hier versammelten Hörstücke stets rau, inhaltlich sehr abwechslungsreich und spannend geraten. -- Sascha Kösch
Marc Zeier evokes a harsh pastoral on the first G*Park album since 2008's Reuters. These concise concrète pieces evoke not dystopian scenarios or bodily abjection, but perverse echoes of the natural world and the mechanisms that control it: you almost but not quite hear agricultural machinery, harshly humming insects, corvid rasps, the capacity of sound to carry across empty space, the percussion of footsteps and wind. Admittedly, his titles perpetuate this impression -- "Crows in Lantsch", "Amden Trees", "The Cave" [nb, these are actually not the titles, but conditions and locations of Zeier's various recordings] -- adding up to a stark poetry of landscape. These images are highly abstracted with a kind of sucking-out and paring-down of found sound that marks Zeier as a noise artist from a generation not in thrall to layering or loops. -- Frances Morgan