Sound Bytes : Dacapo Records

Dacapo Records is a Danish National Label featuring contemporary classical, experimental, and electroacoustic music by Danish composers. This Sound Bytes special offers a sampling of the latest recordings from the label, featuring some abstract and experimental selections.

Kanding / Bretschneider
Auxiliary Blue
The first release in this column which grabbed my attention is the one by Ejnar Kanding and Frank Bretschneider. The former is a Danish electro-acoustic composer known for intermixing visual and auditory mediums. The latter is none other than co-founder of the German raster-noton label (along with Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai), with a multitude of releases on Mille Plateaux, 12k, and Line. The release collects the duo’s cooperative works, where one artist works with the materials of the other. The result includes some strikingly dark, tense and obscure cinematic pieces, most notable of which is Auxiliary Blue, an audio-visual installation originally commissioned for the Dexia skyscraper in Brussels, and in 2008 adapted by Kanding as an electro-acoustic piece for bass clarinet, percussion, violin and double bass (executed by members of Kanding’s Contemporánia ensemble). As you can expect from the master of the staple raster-noton sound, the intricate micro glitchy clicks are sprinkled throughout a repetitive and hypnotic rhythm of acoustic instruments. A challenging but cohesive minimalist record.

Katrine Ring
A Hand for Holmboe
In order to appreciate the full scale of A Hand for Holmboe, one must begin listening to this release with the included bonus CD, which features original chamber concertos by Vagn Holmboe, a Danish neo-classical composer. After an hour-long performance, which is not the subject of this review, one may turn their attention to the actual album. The ten pieces on A Hand for Holmboe are Katrine Ring’s interpretations of selected Holmboe’s works. By remixing suitable movements, Ring created a collage of arranged and triggered samples that evoke particular state of recognition of original works within the final juxtaposed puzzle. Additional field recordings, such as the purring of a cat and the sounds of tea being poured into cups (on the appropriately titled “A Nice Cup of Tea, Please!”) are sprinkled over this functional deconstruction. The result is a DJ inspired loop-based composition which works within the context of classical and electronic music techniques. Picture a techno surgeon working his splicing skills on works by Philip Glass, and you’ve got just a glimpse of A Hand for Holmboe.

Birgitte Alsted
Agnete’s Laughter
Agnete’s Laughter is a six-movement composition employing computer-processed sounds and vocals by Birgitte Alsted, a Danish electro-acoustic composer and graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. The pieces offer a glimpse into a hallucinogenic and at times even nightmare laden dream-world of experimental music laced with dripping water and schizophrenic voices. Alas, the darkness of these sounds and words are not so negative per se – the ability to capture the voices of another dimension and weave them into a sonic quilt is almost supernatural in effort. This sound collage is inspired by literature and poetry, drawing roots for this specific piece from Danish ballad, “Agnete and the Merman”, in which Agnete leaves behind her husband and children and dies of a broken heart. An underwater sculpture by Suste Bonnén at the bottom of Frederiksholm Canal is another interpretation of the poem, to which Alsted plays a tribute with the sounds of water. The compact disc release collects three other works by Alsted: Melencolia, Sorgsang V and Belletter.

Electronic Music Produced at DIEM 1987-2012
Just like the title proclaims, this double-disc compilation collects electronic music produced at The Danish Institute of Electronic Music (DIEM) between the years 1987 and 2012. This is a rather broad selection of genres, featuring everything from experimental sound art to ambient electro-acoustic works to even techno and IDM, documenting twenty five years of artistic production completed at the institution. “The story of DIEM is ambiguous, extremely loud but still at the edge of the audible; a story about meeting with the conception of the sublime.” Among the twenty archived pieces I barely recognize a few names – among them a collaboration between Puzzleweasel and Richard Divine, which is a DSP-rich hypnotizing [and previously unreleased] glitch heaven. The earlier works preserve the sounds and production techniques of DIEM studio’s analogue equipment, such as the Otari MTR 90 24-track analog tape machine, Yamaha DX7 FM synth and Oberheim Xpander hybrid synth, and serves as a good aural resource for all electronic music history buffs. Fans of early electronica will enjoy.