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that political motives or a kind of canny manipulation superceded the quest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?
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.