Here's the second of three (forthcoming) albums on Cellule 75 by Marc Richter (aka Black To Comm) following the (very different sounding) Diode, Triode LP (recordings made at INA GRM and ZKM) that came out earlier in 2022.
MM∞XX is a virtual orchestra Richter initiated during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Isolated at his Hamburg studio he started to reach out to former collaborators and old friends, picking up on previous conversations as well as asking people to post short previously unused sound recordings for a collaborative piece of music. He then assembled, transformed and mixed these generous offerings (by 33 artists) into perpetually evolving compositions to be published and performed in different constellations, formats, versions and mixes over the course of 2021. Not only did he get these lovely sonic gifts from his many collaborators - he received messages about childbirth and death, marriage and divorce, building houses, buying houses, happiness and depression, everyday life.
The resulting pieces were premiered at the lockdown editions of Rewire and Papiripar Festival in 2021 and are now compiled into this lavishly produced Double-CD set with mastering by Rashad Becker and Bora Başkan's beautiful paintings on the cardboard sleeve.
The music is as unpredictable as the guest list yet it all gels in unexpected ways. Some of the pieces are surprisingly beautiful while others are deliberately comic and ridiculous.
Richter often piles up 5 or more unrelated samples on top of each other with unforeseeable results; Andrew Pekler's psychedelic Ambient loops combined with a discreet noise guitar and subtle field recordings by Luke Fowler and others, Paul Regimbeau's Doom Metal guitar colliding with Roger Tellier-Craig's Musique Concrète recordings and Brian Pyle's artificial church organ, sounding like a long lost Melvins/Luc Ferrari combo, Lucio Capece's reed noises screeching on top of Felix Kubin's voice/MS-20 mobile phone recordings. Almost every track features at least one surprise element that would never happen on a non-collaborative album: the Guido Möbius slide guitar, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh's wonderful buzuk playing, Jan van Hasselt's singing robots, Eric Chenaux's recurring voice memo loops.
Collaborators were free to send any kind of sonic material. Among the soundfiles Richter received were pure field recordings (cats, children, toilets), dictaphone sketches (people singing/whistling/whispering their song ideas), found sounds, accidental sounds, sample loops, tape loops, voice recordings, improvisations on buzuk, clarinet, guitar, piano, no-input mixer, Buchla Music Easel, MS-20 and modular synthesizers in varying fidelity and tunings.
Richter is an idiosyncratic and autodidactic expert in sampling and audio collage for almost 20 years now so it's no surprise that nothing here sounds forced or hyperbolic and even the strangest combinations always make sense. And fortunately he knows when to withdraw from the setting and when to simplify the proceedings.
Collaborators in the MM∞XX project include:
Andrew Pekler, Richard Youngs, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart), Felix Kubin, Eric Chenaux, Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek), Timo van Luijk (In Camera, Af Ursin), John Fell Ryan (Excepter), Roger Tellier-Craig (Fly Pan Am), Maja Ratkje, Brian Pyle (Ensemble Economique), Joni Void, Paul Regimbeau (Mondkopf), Dan Hayhurst (Sculpture), Jonna Karanka (Kuupuu), Jan van Hasselt, Jan Anderzén (Tomutonttu, Kemialliset Ystävät), Guido Möbius, Alexander Rishaug, Frédéric D. Oberland (Oiseaux-Tempête), François Bonnet (Kassel Jaeger), Luke Fowler, Janek Schaefer, Konrad Janvas (No UFO's), Pascal Hector (Datashock), Ulf Schütte (Phantom Horse), Jani Hirvonen (Uton), Alexander Schubert, Christoph de Babalon, Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club, Vibracathedral Orchestra), Antonia Leukers, Lucio Capece, Floris Vanhoof
Marc Richter records as Black To Comm for Thrill Jockey, Type and Dekorder and under the Mouchoir Ètanche and Jemh Circs monikers for his own Cellule 75 imprint. He collaborated with visual artists such as Ho Tzu Nyen and Mike Kelley. He also produces soundtracks and acousmatic multichannel installations for institutions such as INA GRM Paris, ZKM Karlsruhe and Kunstverein Hamburg.