AGF: Westernization Completed
Orthlorng Musork

Anyone expecting Antye Greie-Fuchs' second full-length to be Head Slash Bauch II should cast those expectations aside, for Westernization Completed is a markedly different animal. Her debut, a dazzling amalgam of digital static, industrial clatter, and sensuous recitations, has now evolved into a sound that's more intimate, exotic, and impressionistic, one more accessible than before yet still uncompromisingly experimental in nature. On Head Slash Bauch, lyrics are based on fragments of HTML script and software data and are consequently distancing. On Westernization Completed, the lyrics, now entirely in English and more direct and personal, are typically recited and at times, her voice is mixed so prominently you could easily imagine her sitting next to you, whispering in your ear. Unlike Head Slash Bauch 's hermetic qualities, Westernization Completed expansively draws upon a wide array of inspirations that includes Ulyana Gumeniuk's expressionistic paintings, Kim West's graphic design, Vesna Pavlovic's photography, and Uli Dziallas's clothing designs, all displayed to gorgeous effect in the deluxe hardback book packaging which incorporates the disc. In a manner that recalls similar inscription strategies used in Peter Greenway's The Pillow Book, words are etched onto AGF's skin, just as she is herself inserted into the book's paintings and designs. We find here an interweaving visual analogue to the music which similarly fashions an intricate web of diverse musical styles, personal recollections, and correspondence.

It begins with a gentle, evocative intro “LETSmakeOURmovies” that features AGF's sensuous, reverberant voice accompanied by fluttering synth sounds and exotic jungle chatter. Softer tracks like this one and “inBETWEENmovies” with its gentle percussive patter contrast dramatically with the more tactile and aggressive percussion on “ambientTRUST” and “MYpatch.” Those familiar with “pianos,” AGF's contribution to Clicks & Cuts 3, will recognize it here, newly christened as “PRIVATEbirds” with its vague hip-hop-flavoured stuttering rhythm. It's a prototypical Westernization Completed track with its fractured beats, distorted vocals, echo effects, and dropouts. The recording's collagistic leanings come to the forefront on “chorizon” where Michael Schmidt's saxophone accents and AGF's fragmented voice are accompanied by lumbering beats, telephones, and Chinese voices. The effect is cinematic, suggesting what it might sound like to be dropped into the middle of Blade Runner's exotic 2019 LA setting. As already stated, AGF uses her speaking voice predominantly throughout, but two tracks offer welcome instances of her singing. “youSTOP” is a melancholy, twilight piece that's reminiscent of Laub in its vocal style and evokes Björk in its open display of naked emotion. On “contemporaryWESTERNIZED,” on the other hand, AGF's vocals resemble those of Regina Janssen (Donna Regina).

While it may be relatively more accessible than its precursor, it's still a challenging listening experience. Tracks are rarely structured as straightforward songs with conventional rhythms. Instead, the mercurial pieces unfold like biological organisms, mutating unpredictably from one moment to the next. Beats are treated elastically, and commonly threaten to collapse if not vanish altogether. They're dropped out boldly, their flow undermined, their rhythms skewered. AGF willfully deconstructs and fragments the tracks, turning Westernization Completed into an impressionistic 50-minute collage of speaking voices, electronics, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, fractured beats, and samples. In fact, the recording could be regarded as AGF's extremely idiosyncratic take on dub, as the frequent dropouts, echo effects, and exploration of structural elasticity are all hallmarks of dub style. It's an organic, impressionistic, and poetic recording, perhaps best characterized as a memorable exercise in electronic haiku.

January 2004