I well remember my own flattered astonishment when some good simple soul told me, after listening to my own Jardin parfumé, of the various rustic sounds he said he heard therein; the brook, the bees, the birds doing all the things you expect birds, bees, and brooks to do - in their publishable moments. I could not forbear to ask the good soul if he also heard the rich purée d'épinard plop of the cows emptying their bowels, those least - so admirably least - costive of creatures, whose evacuations, performed with such nonchalance and brio, and full-bowelled ease, are such a shining example to the constipated idiots who live on and by them.

-- Kaikhosru Sorabji
Gosh, how can a guy who wrote der männer sippe be all-bad? -- former Wagner Society member
...to the everlasting glory of those few men, blessed and sanctified in the curses and execrations of those many, whose praise is eternal damnation. -- Kaikhosru Sorabji (from Opus Clavicembalisticum dedication)
ma! ! hav zom watr plz +? -- antiorp

It's All in How You Hex It

(a review of a krop3rom by the artist =cw4t7abs)


The exterior shell of krop3rom is consistent with =cw4t7abs's (antiorp's, integer's, netochka nezvanova's...) belligerent public cyber-persona. However, it is a mistake to conclude that political motives or a kind of canny manipulation superceded the quest for substance on behalf of this composer. krop3rom is rich enough to be felt on levels other than the deep allegory many Wagner aficionados need to apply to, let's say, the Ring. Does antiorp, or "0f0003," carry his social/political message within the spiraling track of his CD?   perhaps...

My expectations of a consistently uncompromising musical conception were initially dashed by an off-putting drumkit-based backbeat groove that struck me as a capitulation to the mass taste -- a sort of projection into the dance hall. I soon decided that this prevalent rock backbeat, which does not consume all that much of the work's total running time, is an effective foil for the conceptual abstractions that indeed make up most of the piece. That groove is based on a dark secundal ostinato that is forbidding enough to turn away most of pop culture's more delicate ears. So, my first crisis with the piece was overcome, although I still feel injured by what feels like a compromise.

krop3rom's sound world is varied and rich, with a significant amount of granular synthesis and some passages sounding like the spaceship SuperCollider. Concrète techniques appear to be limited to recordings of human voices delivering text. The piece is highly oscillator and noise-based in its textures. In general, these are rough-edged sonorities -- really nice stuff indeed. There's much compression -- it's almost as though we've got a RealAudio-readied pre-master - another thing that, at first, put me off.

Text is often heard -- English, German, and French, and half the times it seems to be one or another kind of protest. Much of the German is processed and inflected in such a way as to evoke impassioned wax-recorded speeches of the early 20th Century. The piece is dripping with angst from start to finish (putting it, straight away, into my camp), and it even contains the "staging" of a political execution. One of the few English lines, delivered by a woman whose saccharine smile can be seen ever so clearly in the mind's eye, is spoken in a style reminiscent of a dehumanizing industrial training video. Thus, she interjects de-contextually: "Fuck freely, orgasmic therapy, bioelectric charge and discharge -- a genital embrace. Fuck freely, communist movement...[chop]" A decontextualization, a non sequitur? Potent symbolism or sensationalism? I must leave that open, but I'll suggest that the composer of krop3rom was committed to producing a work of artistic value and expressiveness. I do not question his integrity in carrying out that goal. My basis? What can I say -- the basis is no more than lots of careful listening over many years. In spite of the aforementioned musical compromise -- a calculated use, in my opinion, of non-related genre-specific material, I take the position that nothing in this piece is gratuitous.

The CD's 61 minutes are laid out over 98 individual tracks, with the 98th one's first four minutes (its total in duration is 4:38) housing a diabolical dead-silence. If we persist (or inadvertently let the CD run on through the first four silent minutes of this final track), we get a classic 'orpism -- the sudden eruption of hostile sounds: the stereo system is self-destructing (some listeners will never realize it's even there). This is close to a sonic analogue of antiorp's final cluster of ascii-art featured in many of his postings. The penultimate track ends with a strikingly haunting figure rendered by a woman's voice chopped by both a slow-grained and a very fine-grained process. This is a gorgeous moment that is setup in a utilitarian manner, by the work's one significant "developmental" passage -- a long section of sustained material led by a microtonally tuned church-organ. This part of the score, which strongly suggests time-travel, functions as a release and contrast from the tension-filled beginning and middle sections. Antiorp's chopped, semi-valedictory woman is a stroke of genius and makes a superb moment. But is it enough? When delving ten seconds or two minutes or 4:06 into the abyss of #98, it is enough. It is more than enough. Its haunting beauty still rings in fulfilling echoes. How generous of the great cyber-manipulator to offer four minutes within which to decide whether or not that perfect ending will be one's own ending -- this time. But one isn't aware that the choice exists unless one has suffered the disorientation of track 98's final 31 seconds of hair-raising sound, an enactment of frantic scrubbing of the radio dial in search of... kundry's kiss.

On several levels, krop3rom is as interesting as much of the "serious" work coming from inside or outside of academe, yet the work's episodic nature was a problem for me at first. Its frequent shifting may cause seekers of formal refinement to leave in frustration. The formal structure may owe to a stochastic base, through which krop3rom would exhibit a local chaos (...my "episodic" sections), but a global determinism. It does have shape, and even recapitulation, but it really boils down to a drama in sound -- a melodrama, and a gripping one indeed, one which ends in full flowering ambiguity. There is no resolution, no release, and no answer. And like the antiorp cyber-persona, this piece is infused with musical evocation of the cyclical word games of his postings, a rhetorical statement/rejoinder syndrome, and it is so at the level of its compositional syntax. Interestingly enough, this is a consideration unlikely to enter the consciousness of non-list members who aren't conditioned by luxurious message-postings, and the fact that such rhetorical cycles are at the syntax-level will not be a problem for many listeners who can approach this work non-programmatically. However, this technique, one that diminishes the sense of organic interrelationships in the piece, is a problem for me. This is not a fatal flaw, and once I accepted this work's alliance with the popular culture, or dare I suggest, to the cyber-culture, even the gaming sub-culture, rather than to the "concert-music" or "classical" world, I came to be on better terms with it. But none of my proposed "alliances" is adequately specific -- krop3rom belongs to an emerging genre of art-music or "sound-art" that is a new synthesis (I know one person who will, of course, claim it is aligned with no known genre, and never will be).

Listen to krop3rom. It will reward that effort. A view of its surface yields the sonic equivalent of antiorp's web persona. This is utterly uncanny, and more than entertaining enough. Then dig below the surface. There lies a compelling work -- one that transcends the single life form of its creator. I like it immensely.

r.a.falesch   2-jan-99 (rev july 2oo1)


this is an "improved" essay describing krop3rom. my wildly subjective, poorly written original essay, with all its patronizing blather and self-conscious buloney is still here. i don't recommend it, but i feel obligated to leave it up there.