PBK & Artificial Memory Trace
  transphere 1997-1999

cdwhon002, released in october 2000, 9 tracks

... where some electro-acoustic music seems to shift rapidly from one stream of events to the next, our music utilizes thematic development to empower the sound structure. Because there are little repetitive characteristics to the structure, it takes root in ways that more chaotic sound-collisions cannot. Even as we find structure, we begin to destroy, or deconstruct, it. There are constantly, at all moments, areas that tend to punctuate the piece with dynamics. I like the way, at times, the structure can be down to just one line of sound expression and moments later there are many lines crossing and converging ...

PBK, December 1998 - from process

[jump to radiantslab's shop]



Since the mid-'90s, Artificial Memory Trace (the working name of Slavek Kwi) has released CD after CD of fascinating electro-acoustic music. Transphere 1997-1999 is the result of a collaboration with American noise artist PBK. The album is structured in three TransPhases presented in chronological order. Both artists' sonic universes integrate pretty well. PBK's approach is more tone-based (drones, sustained noise), while AMT works with sound events, situational recordings, and extensive transformations. The way the two collaborated is not clearly specified, but each artist provided at least basic material for each piece. Obvious structure, repetition, and rhythm are three elements missing (but not missed!) on this CD; the music takes a musique concrète approach of "cinema for the ear," with multiple plots interlocking into an ever-changing story. The best example of this is "TransPhase 1: Mioru." The last piece, "TransPhase 3: Mus-eq," is a recording of a workshop with autistic children listening to music by PBK. It brings a strange (and maybe unnecessary) conclusion to the project. Better appreciated when listened to with headphones, Transphere 1997-1999 provides an enjoyable aural experience to the audio art fan. Recommended.

François Couture, All-Music Guide

Here we have two artists who work with sculpting sounds. I have had more exposure to AMT (see &etc v1.5, 1.10 & 1.12) whose work is rapidly moving and changing electroacoustic, while PBK is (I think) more into electronic drones and tones (on the basis of this: I must admit to being a little shy of PBK exposure). Here they are working with each others material (its a 'versus' album), adding their own touches and sounds.

There are three parts to the disk. The first, TransPhase 1 sees two long tracks 'PBK (vs AMT)' and 'AMT (vs PBK)' separated by a short 'transition zone'. I am assuming on the basis of the sounds and some later track names that the part in brackets is the originating source. The first track is quite gentle and subdued - throughout there are some soft electronicdrones and tones, with occasional flashes of activity: crackling and rumbling, machines whirring, bent notes, scratching mikes, electronic winds. These grow to transient climaxes before moving on, building to a dense accumulation at the latter part of the track, condensing around a squeaking noise like a gate. 17 seconds of breaking glass and a whirring wind (the transition zone) before we enter AMT (vs PBK). This takes the transition sounds and builds from them - more clicking and rumbling accompanying the wind, lots of squeaky radio sounds, low throbs, sqirrling space noises, high ticks. There is a lot of movement and activity shifting across the sound spectrum, building moments then moving on. The sounds selected are subtle and seductive, and include the human voice singing, breathing. Again, there is a transition between periods of intense activity and almost stasis: around halfway after some dense electronoises, the content drops to an almost silent dripping beat, gentle patterns overlaid, before rebuilding: starting with distant phasers and geiger counters, joined by many other sounds, including a huge flock of starlings. Another wild noisey climax leads to a gentle subdued fade.

In TransPhase 2 PBK (vs AMT) leads off with a single long track matched by 4 shorter ones going the other way. He provides a swirling electronic (sometimes feedback) soundscape over which clicks and ticks, processed voices, echoing blurts build and sweep. It is very dramatic and exciting, somewhat more forceful than TransPhase 1. The second half is more restrained, with the backdrop removed and a focus on echo&processed voices - indeed there is a sortofdub feel to a lot of the activity occuring - before metallic tones and ticking build, ebbing and flowing to a pulsing end. 'Fragmenthol I.' [AMT (vs PBK)] sees a percussive outing with a deep beat, chitters and a fast knocking which shifts around the soundspace. These elements are joined by a fast tick before it breaks down to a slower beat and electronoises in the central part before redeveloping with the occasional clatter. There are two parts to 'Retouch': the first half is very restrained with a gentle clatter and drone joined by fleeting sounds - organ pulses, crackling, wooshes, bubbling - to be replaced by a dense complex of almost random accumulations of similar noises. The final two pieces in this section - 'Contextura I._III.' and 'Fragmenthol II.' - are very minimalist. The first works around long rising and falling tones, with low banging, pulsing, deep notes and a crackling percussive texture, while the second is quite a glitchy microwave piece building to a climax and retreating.

And finally, the single 'Mus_eq (PBK/AMT)' of TransPhase 3 - perhaps one of the more unusual pieces I have come across: it is a recording made by AMT of 'children with learning disability listening to PBK, manipulating paper and plast.' Which is exactly what it is - a distant PBK electronica with rustling noises over the top, little local noises, and then a child crying and another vocalising. Quite bizarre, but strangely it works.

This is an album which, like other AMT material, revels in its diversity, and which the descriptions above should be seen as only touching on. The sounds are always interesting, never merely annoying (and if they are only briefly and in context), and wildly diverting - the range of moods, methods, sounds and sensations is absorbing.

&etc v3.8 - Jeremy Keens - Ampersand Etcetera - Volume 3 Number 8

PBK has been making music since god knows how long, but things were relatively quiet in the last few years. AMT did it the other way round: his releases are coming rapidely now. Even when both use the same sort of sounds, the process and the result they do and arrive at, are totally different. PBK seems, at least to me, the guy of the good ol' analogue processings, making tapeloops, using analogue multitrack and processes of that nature. AMT is a person of the digital areas. This is best heard in Transphase 1. Both use the same set of sounds, but PBK's recycling is thick, harsh ambient sound spheres and AMT's piece is more fragile, with more eye for the detail. In Transphase 2 there is one PBK track, using different sounds from AMT, and vice versa but then with four tracks. It's unclear to me if these tracks are further extensive recyclings of the first Transphase. Maybe so, as it seems more austere, as if all unwanted parts have been cut out. In this phase the results seem interchangeable, or better: if PBK adapted the methods of AMT. The last track is a filler: AMT recording disabled children working with paper and plastic while listening to the music of PBK. I have no idea why this piece is on here. The result of this collaboration is well-crafted, but didn't lead to a surprising new thing. Not that this is always necessary.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly 251

An electro-acoustic collaboration between Belgium's AMT (who I am not familiar with) and established American composer PBK, 'Transphere' proves to be a more minimal experience than PBK's past works, with subtle frequencies and resonating tones. There's no mention in the sleeve notes of any sort of 'theme', necessarily, though I'm certain there's more going on here than simply a sound collision between intercontinental artists. Stylistically, this work ranges from abrasive musique concrete juxtapositions/edits to semi-ambient fields, always with impeccable depth and an air of cinematic tension. The final track is more interesting in theory than in result, being a recording of children with learning disabilities manipulating paper and plastic while listening to PBK. All-in-all, a rather puzzling yet engaging listening experience firmly rooted in the abstract music mode.

Todd Zachritz, Godsend online