Zur Arbeit I


Ralf Wehowsky and Peter Kastner, aka RLW and PAAK, present their third collaborative album in a series of concept albums dedicated to various subjects. This record, their first on attenuation circuit, is about work, and as on the previous records (about food and religion, respectively), the titles, liner notes, and the sound itself suggest a rather sarcastic take on work, or more precisely, the situation of working people today.

Ralf Wehowsky has been a fixture on the international experimental scene since his 1980s work with P16.D4 and related projects on the Selektion label. The fusion of electronic sounds and non-musical, musique concrète material is characteristic of much of his work. Peter Kastner, working both in improvised sound and visual arts, brings a low-fi approach to jerrybuilt sound objects to the collaboration. By contrasting everyday noise that might well have been recorded in a factory, or factory canteen, with startlingly artificial, almost deliberately cheesy harpsichord and mellotron sounds, they create a tension between a nostalgia for beauty and the barrenness of everyday life, in three pieces, or perhaps movements. The liner notes leave no doubt as to what the three movements stand for: The 19th century with its mass exploitation of industrial workers (courtesy of a quote by Karl Marx), the 20th century with its progress toward more social security for working people, and the 21st century, which sees an erosion of solidarity as neoliberal policies take away social benefits such as rent-controlled housing.

File under: electronica, musique concrète

ACW 1004

blue marbled 12" Vinyl Album

Released in 2016

limited to 300 copies

price: 16.00 EUR (excl. postage)

Aufgenommen 2014/2015.
PAAK: Mikrophonie, Stimme, Lärm, Kantinen-Konstruktion
RLW: Instrumente (Harpsichord, Mellotron, Rhythmusbox),
Transformationen, Schnaps- und Gerberei-Konstruktion
EMERGE: Drahtast (Seite 2)

photography by Andrea Forster
design by EMERGE


Zur Geschichte der Arbeit I:

19. Jahrh.: "Der ehemalige Geldbesitzer schreitet voran als Kapitalist, der Arbeitskraftbesitzer folgt ihm nach als sein Arbeiter; der eine bedeutungsvoll schmunzelnd und geschäftseifrig, der andre scheu, widerstrebend, wie jemand der seine eigne Haut zu Markt getragen hat und nun nichts andres zu erwarten hat als die – Gerberei." (KM)

20.Jahrh.: Gut, dass wir jetzt weiter sind: Schnaps, Kantine & Sozialwohnung …

21. Jahrh.: Wo ist denn jetzt die Sozialwohnung? Also dann doch wieder die Gerberei ...

Also available here: http://www.discogs.com/seller/dependenz?sort=price&sort_order=asc&q=attenuation+circuit&st



Arbeit klingt unfein und unfrei, nach Feind von Freizeit, Urlaub, Spaß und Kunst. Nicht so bei WORK und bei ARBEIT, nicht so bei Zur Arbeit I (ACW 1004, LP, blaues Vinyl) von RLW & PAAK. Nach dem "Erst kommt das Fressen..." von "Mahlzeit" (2008) und dem "Opium für das Volk" von "Klingelbeutel" (2012) nun Marxens schmunzelnder Kapitalist und sein Arbeiter, "der seine eigene Haut zu Markt getragen hat und nun nichts anderes zu erwarten hat als die - Gerberei." Ein Dreisatz aus Schnaps, Sozialwohnung und Fell über die Ohren, konstruiert und transformiert mit Cembalo, Mellotron, Rhythmusbox, mit Peter Kastners bum-bum-bum und arbeit-arbeit-arbeit brummelnder Stimme und brotlos rumorendem Lärm. Unten um die Füße lappt die Ölpest, auf halber Höhe lärmt der Betrieb, oben klimpert, schwelgt und flötet die Scheinwelt der Smartphonesmarten und Facebookmöchtegerns. Sie, die verkehrte Welt, wird auf Gedeih & Spielverderb auf die Füße gestellt. Mag es für Klassenkampf an Bewusstsein und an Kampfgeist fehlen, um die Lage als Verblendungszusammenhang zu erkennen, der Ichsucht und Entsolidarisierung schürt und den Beiß- und Tretreflex der Habenden gegen die Habenichtse, dazu wäre es ein guter Anfang, die rosarote Brille abzusetzen und die Denkkurbel zu drehen. Ich scheue mich, trotz Adornos Mahnung, dass „das ephemere Bild von Harmonie, in dem Güte sich genießt, einzig das Leiden an der Unversöhnlichkeit um so grausamer hervorhebt, das sie töricht verleugnet“, die Harmoniespuren nur töricht zu deuten, den Krach als aufklärend und einzige Waffe der musikalischen Kritik. Harmonie, wenn auch nicht die Muzakschleimspuren hier, ist auch Vorschein (im Blochschen Sinn), Lärm nerv- und geisttötend. Nicht jeder Widerspruch ist schwarz auf weiß lösbar. 'Künstliches Paradies' ist ein Pleonasmus, kein Oxymoron, und letztlich das, woran wir arbeiten. Kakophilie und Anästhesie sind keine Optionen.




Ugh, work sucks, am I right? Another day, another dollar, or Deutschmark if you’re from Germany, like the Augsburg-based label attenuation circuit is. They use euros there now, you say? Figures. But hey, I love a good round of Kumbaya, a little bit of Namaste, and a whole big chorus of “Come Together” now and again. That’s what makes us all good people in the end, our sense of camaraderie. The EU is one big happy family. I think. I imagine they are anyway.

But still, you gotta get through that workday, and once you do, once you’re on the other side, you can appreciate the parts of your life that aren’t governed by “the Man.” That’s the beauty of it – compared to the 9-to-5, the rest of your day comes off pretty swell, filled with laughter and friends, joy and comfort. Listen, you’re not just a wage slave, in it for the bare living – there’s more to you than that. There’s flavor and color, and you just have to hang on long enough to take advantage of it.

Zur Arbeit I, a collaboration between Ralf Wehowsky and Peter Kastner, aka RLW and PAAK, emphasizes that hanging on is just about the extent the vast majority of people are able to do these days. As a concept, it’s pretty hefty – almost every moment of the record recalls human beings toiling at something, whether it’s in a factory or collaborating in an office or even having lunch with the other stupid drones you’re forced to interact with. I’m not even kidding, though, I’m having a hard time keeping it together, because I feel like “the Man” – there it is again! – is right over my shoulder, watching my every move. He’s siphoning off my future anyway, why shouldn’t he be all up in my business on a daily basis?

RLW / PAAK keep it moving though, from the bizarre harpsichord comedy of errors “Schnaps” to the Terry Gilliam-on-acid lunch break of “Kantine” (and when is Terry Gilliam not on acid, honestly?), finally veering into straight paranoia on “Gerberei.” You know those rose-colored glasses you’re clearly wearing after the whistle blows at the end of the day, the ones that make the evening hours way more acceptable (if you’re not stuck in the graveyard shift)? Liars. Your crummy life really is just better compared to your working one. Time to shake off the haze and think like a human being, not a zombie.

You wanna talk Marx? You wanna talk Social Security? How about our current system where the middle class and the little guy are getting straight railroaded by big business? RLW / PAAK writes odes to the downtrodden in their sleep, then pieces together the results in a musique concrète pastiche as mesmerizing as it is horrifying. But mostly mesmerizing. And even in the horrific parts, it generates more hope than maybe it ought to. That’s probably all on the musicians though. Can’t trust that to the fatcats on Madison Avenue (or whatever the German equivalent of Madison Avenue is).

Grand statements about economic hardship and the plight of the downtrodden aren’t new manifestos, as it were. We’re all just wage slaves. We’re all subject to the safety nets of our respective countries. And when it all comes down to it, are you secure in the knowledge of assistance? Do you trust “the Man”? Are RLW and PAAK blowing smoke? Are you part of one big happy family? Better reevaluate everything, if you ask me.




You could easily forget that among the vast amount of CDR and cassette releases by Attenuation Circuit (see also elsewhere) they also release CDs and LPs, and here's one of the latter variety. RLW I should hope, despite releasing a lot less these days, is the well-known brainchild of Ralf Wehowsky, who in the early 80s was the main force behind P16.D4 and the Selektion label. Paak is perhaps less known, but Peter Kästner hails from Hamburg, Germany, and works quite a bit with TBC (see Vital Weekly 987). I assume this record is the result of exchanging sound materials back and forth. Paak gets credit for microphone, voice and noise and RLW for playing the harpsichord, mellotron, rhythm machine, and transformations, while also mixing the side long piece that is 'Schnaps' and 'Gerberei' on the flip, while Paak created the 'Kantine' piece. There seems to be a political theme throughout this record, which is about 'work', and the situation workers are in today. Those seem to be the basics of this release.
I must say that I didn't hear much difference between the two pieces mixed by RLW and the one by Paak, which I guess is a good thing, even Paak seems to be using a lot less of the instrument recordings. Like many of the records by RLW, solo and otherwise, it is all about the balance between non-instruments, noise, objects and such like on one hand and instruments on the other. To hear the mellotron and harpsichord is perhaps quite odd as they surely add a more musical dimension to the release. Sometimes the two are set apart, with a block of 'instruments', followed by a block of 'noise', but sometimes they also are overlaying each other. Especially the harpsichord is a really weird instrument I would think. It is full of history, like baroque music, but it sounds wacky, funny, silly or simply bizarre, when it pops up in these electro-acoustic compositions. It's not easy to make up my mind regarding 'Schnaps', the piece in which these instruments sound most; I think I preferred the second side better. Here the pieces were stricter in composition, tighter if you will, reminding the listener of P16.D4 at times (well, this listener anyway), and there was a fine amount of tension right under the surface, which made me listen over and over again. No work was done, but that's okay. We live in a different age I guess. (FdW)


RLW - PAAK Zur Arbeit I cover front
RLW - PAAK Zur Arbeit I cover back
RLW - PAAK Zur Arbeit I InlayRLW - PAAK Zur Arbeit I Inlay
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