szmt: Parvenu

Gruenrekorder recordings are often filled with surprises, and szmt's Parvenu is no exception: the brainchild of Tobias Schmitt, the forty-eight-minute release was created entirely using sounds derived from three bee hives. Given the szmt description provided, Schmitt, who also issues material under the Suspicion Breeds Confidence alias (e.g., The Fauna and Flora of the Vatican City) and has contributed to a number of releases on the label over the years, would appear to be somewhat of a provocateur. szmt, we're told, “contextualizes seemingly contradictory material and techniques” such that all input is “formed into a coherent but nevertheless open-to-misinterpretation result by means of improvisation and composition.”

In the case of Parvenu, four long-form explorations are presented, each carrying with it a wordy title, the lengthiest “The General Skepticism of the Constitutional Monarchy Was Justified as New Forms of Authority Surfaced.” The material's predictably abstract and amenable to interpretation, the listener free to conjure any number of possible interpretations in response. Occasional moments of insect swarm and buzzing do surface, but for the most part Schmitt's treated the original recordings like so much raw material ready to be liberally shaped and transformed.

As the recording plays, it's impossible to predict what direction it'll take; at one juncture, a writhing, industrial-inflected rhythm pattern begins to assert itself before a swathe of smears abruptly takes its place. Elsewhere, amplified chirping, grinding, and warbling noises suggest a microphone moving in closely on the hive and its inhabitants, with rutting sounds of indeterminate origin implying activity of some (re)productive kind occurring within. Tinged with sci-fi bleeps, a few ambient-like episodes arise that one would perhaps misidentify as synth-generated were one unaware of the production methodology involved, and strange though it might sound, that aforementioned track, especially when it features clattering beat elements, threads sequences into its fifteen-minute frame that aren't unlike what one might encounter in an early Autechre experiment.

A number of possible descriptions come to mind, but experimental soundsculpting might be the best and simplest fit for what's going on here. Such experimentation is business as usual at Gruenrekorder central, of course, as long-time followers of the label already know. As strange to outsiders as Parvenu will be, to Gruenrekorder fans such weirdness is nothing more than standard operating procedure.

January 2018