Marcus Fjellström: Gebrauchsmusik

If Marcus Fjellström's Gebrauchsmusik (German for ‘Utility Music') appears to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), it's purely by design as each of its thirteen pieces was written with a unique theme—war, art, festivity, sadness, death, and resurrection—in mind. Fjellström's provocative second sojourn into post-classical electroacoustic composition and uncompromising but in no way displeasing; if anything, it signifies a radical move forward for the Swedish composer. The material thoroughly blurs the line between electronic, Musique concrète, and classical realms with many pieces unique fusions of all three types.

The album opens unsettlingly with the macabre “Reanimation Music” wherein a dead body seemingly is dragged along the muddy ground while a possessed female choir quivers dissonantly alongside; equally disturbing is the dirge “Festivity Music” whose sickly sounds seem to rise from the catacombs. With their thrumming percussive clatter and jittery mechano-rhythms, pieces like “War Music, 1st Perspective” and “Dance Music, 2nd Perspective” call to mind George Antheil's Ballet Mécanique. In “Art Music,” Fjellström appears to play the insides and outside of a piano and then shreds the results using an electronic blender while the ethereal “Consolation Music” features what sounds like a bow being drawn across the edge of a saw against a glass orchestra backing. Though hints of other music surface—“War Music, 2nd Perspective” comes straight out of the Chain Reaction bunker, the funereal “Death Music, 1st Perspective” evokes the horn-drenched haze of Ingram Marshall's Fog Tropes, and the spectral “Fairytale Music, 1st Perspective,” with its muffled voice, ripples of vinyl crackle, and flowing orchestral tones, could pass for a Philip Jeck homage—Gebrauchsmusik transcends such derivative moments due to its remarkable stylistic reach.

January 2007