Marc Behrens | Mut Att Narc Imm
In a title without any easy translation comes the latest from German artist/composer Marc Behrens, Mut Att Narc Imm (Edition: 300, digipak, 3 tracks). Opening with Imm (A), we are immediately transported to a setting will with soft industrial exhaust. The press information and all located online really gives no further indication about this enigmatic release, though via its transmission I’d say it is likely the soundtrack from an installation combined with a mixed and re-sampled field recording of a vast open space, like a large interior hallway, alley or some kind of interesting acoustic chamber.
The sweeping motions are caught in the echo of their repeating actions that become a quasi drone, mitigated only by the broken silences which grow weaker and eventually become a singular extinguished low-grade hiss. The sunken rumbling continues throughout the conclusion of this peculiar, minimal piece.
On Att Imm Mut (Bergen) this ambient atmosphere ranges with an assorted tactile thrashing, like rummaging through a box of stringed and brass instruments. The arrangement is delivered in a bit of an improvised collage style of modest variations that strum, thump, rotate and otherwise relocate objects into and/or out of place. It’s an impulsive, visual set of acoustics that blend windy effects with a whole smorgasbord of unexpected reactive conclusions. And when Behrens adds a spatial echo the dimensions are palpable.
Mut Att Narc Imm (Córdoba) begins in near silence aside from a distant pitch that makes its way to earshot. Given the blood red cover art (front/back) of a fist disguising either eggs or potatoes, it’s a game of slight, of the un/seen. Perhaps it becomes a statement about the over reach in the battle of man vs. nature. But as the work continues you do get an eerie sense of something invading the atmosphere, like a vapor, just a sense of presence without a physicality. This is complemented by the continued movement of objects on surfaces. I’m reminded of early Einstürzende Neubauten vs. Esquivel, sans overdubs, and then extremely pared down to the most minimal (like slowing down a 45RPM to 33RPM), and then adding a slo-mo filter. It becomes a study in junkyard acoustics, there is a dry sense of humor in passing flying saucer effects and errant warping of the physical materials he engages.
Most effective are the elongated passages of sleepy drone, with various pulsations, gurgling, dragging cowbells — odd sounds that unexpectedly lull the mind. Though suddenly Behrens reactivates the proceedings in the last quarter of the piece in what sounds as if he’s caught dead center of a boxing match, only audible are the clobbering strikes, and ominous reverb. The end owes a bit of homage to the cut-ups of Christian Marclay, as the quickly rushed edits are filled with a certain angst tumbling down. He backs it up with a set of organic broken silences that stun with flutter and circumstance.
Hold your breath….