CM von Hausswolff: Operations of Spirit Communication
Die Stadt

CM von Hausswolff: Operation of Spirit Communication
Die Stadt

First things first: why are there two (almost) identically-titled Operation(s) of Spirit Communication releases by Swedish sound experimentalist Carl Michael von Hausswolff? The first is a limited run (300-copy), 12-inch clear vinyl (more precisely a lovely off-white, bone hue) repress of a 47-minute 2000 album release issued in a gatefold sleeve; the second (the colour cover) is a 7-inch companion release featuring two unreleased tracks (“12 Sine Missing One,” “1 Sine Missing Twelve”) recorded in 2006.

Secondly, the driving idea: the work was originally presented as a 1998-2000 sound installation that aspired to achieve communication with other worlds, specifically the dead (the installation picks up electrical and radio transmissions: microphones record the noise of electricity, sine wave tones are received, and cameras capture electric behaviour). von Hausswolff's project was inspired by Friedrich Jürgensen who believed he could channel the voices of the dead onto magnetic tape or shortwave radio.

Thirdly, how well does von Hausswolff succeed in his attempt at spirit invocation? Let's just say that, though it requires a very strong suspension of disbelief to regard the recorded sounds as authentic remnants of the dead, even skeptics will concede that the work's low-level drones, wavering tones, and occasional murmurings add up to an elegant, ethereal, and, yes, reasonably convincing evocation (unless I'm hallucinating, bird twitter, train horns, and the muffled trace of a band playing surface on the second side of the 12-inch disc). Whether he succeeds in accumulating sufficient evidence of the 'other side' is ultimately of secondary importance to the aural content which is suitably transfixing and rife with subtle detail. Listeners not partial to the drone genre, though, might wish to look elsewhere as von Hausswolff's approach is uncompromising.

August 2006