Noise of Cologne 1 - Various Artists
Label: Mark e.V. / Vertrieb: a-Musik
Release date: 15.10.10
There is hardly another city where the local musical activities are so thoroughly documented as they are in Cologne. In the home of the Rhein and the Cathedral, they are proud of the „Sound of Cologne“, which usually refers to electronica or minimal techno. And this is exactly the kind of music that the compilation series „The Sound of Cologne“ is devoted to. This sound had its heyday in the mid-90s with record labels like Kompakt or the EMI offshoot Harvest. Now that the buzz surrounding Cologne's club music has slightly died down, the path is clear for less popular music, but music with a more far reaching tradition.
Of course, the title „Noise of Cologne“ (NoC) refers to the above mentioned Cologne sampler, and so to a trademark that the city bestowed upon itself. But NoC is not proclaiming the identity of some scene; rather it is highlighting a musical creativity that has so far been drowned out by the club sound. That said we are not just referring to noise as a musical style, with its raw energy and physicality. It's not just about noise in the literal sense of the word. Frank Dommert, owner of the Cologne based label sonig, co-manager of a-Musik and curator of the NoC compilation, doesn't want to construe the term “noise” that strictly. NoC is much more designed to show the variety of experimental - often noisy, music from Cologne. It is thanks to Dommert's enormous knowledge of and sensitivity for music that this representation does not for one come across as boring. Quite the contrary, the wealth of composed and spontaneously improvised music from Cologne is so rich that it's one pleasant surprise after the other. For example, Harald Muenz's backwards version of Ravel's Boléro, which builds in tempo just like the original. Or Volker Hennes' synthesizer-sirens. Track 6 is a concept-piece; a very tangible piece of new music for piano, small ensemble and electronics - with theme and variation. Or there's curious but friendly synthesizer music. Then we have travelling music in the form of C-Schulz and F.X.Randomiz's train-composition „Das Ohr am Gleis“ (Trans. ear to the tracks). The energetic, eventful „Überschreitungen des Pragmatismus“ (Trans. Transgressions of pragmatism) by Lehn and Schmickler. Or the quite simply marvellous piece by Bernd Härpfer for six spoken voices.
All this makes NoC a sensory and intellectual treat of the very finest kind. For on the one hand one can let oneself get carried away by this constantly surprising collection. On the other hand, there's a special enjoyment to be had from the eye-opening liner notes by Joachim Ody, which will allow you to discover new composers or understand composition techniques.
It is a credit to the Cologne composers Herbert Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen that electronic music has become such a significant part of the pallet of modern composition. In this sense, NoC documents the extrapolation of a firmly rooted Cologne tradition. The number “1” at the end of this compilation title bears hope: another instalment will follow.
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