Orson Hentschel – Feed the Tape

8 Production
9 Composition
9 Mood
8 Instrumentation

Coming onto the scene with an hour-long collection of sounds and rhythms, the Düsseldorf-based Orson Hentschel pretends to be more of a multimedia artist than a composer of contemporary music.  With his otherworldly compositions of sounds he explores the boundary between the two, multimedia and traditional music. In an invigorating process of creation, Hentschel extracted samples from music, film scores, and sound libraries, among others, alienating them from their context and giving them a new purpose. With his debut “Feed the Tape”, Hentschel truly manages to captivate the mind of the listener, while reaching right into the heart and touching upon our deepest fears.

RELEASE DATE: 26 February 2016  LABEL: Denovali Records

The compositions of sonic choreography that “Feed the Tape” throws at its listener are piece by piece journeys of incredible depth and intensity. Every song starts out in relative comfort, presenting the listener with sounds that are easy to grasp and process, yet as the songs progress they start to become more intricate, turning over into the uncanny until the speakers churn out noises that make you feel your heart throbbing uncomfortably inside your chest. And each song has its own vision, it’s own theme. “16 mm” sounds like a 50s call centre, with sounds rhythmically clicking away, pulsating, and then they start to move. The vigorous drumming on the title track, and its harsh noises, make the listener feel like standing close to a busy train track with trains passing by, frantically sounding their horns. It is one of the most memorable and terrifying moment on the album.

Accompanying the sounds and samples on the album is the live drumming of Lukas Baumgart, which liven up the songs and add another dynamic aspect to them. The beats are perfectly blended in with the other noises and often it is hard to distinguish whether the sound heard is a sample or a live instrument. These are the moments when the experimental value of “Feed the Tape” becomes perfectly apparent, and the frontier between multi-media composition and music becomes blurry and unrecognisable.

A favourite feature of mine on this album is the sampling of polyphonic vocal music from the late Middle Ages, that enliven the songs “Slow-Moving” and “Florence”. Especially the latter becomes a truly haunting piece that perfectly shows what “Feed the Tape” is all about. “[Hentschel’s] aim is to take the listener on an hour-long journey which brings him to the limits of what he can bear. This is achieved by extended repetitions and long arcs of suspense rather than sheer volume.” And Hentschel delivers on that promise.

I remember watching an animated film called “Coraline” once, which is about a little girl who is fed up with her boring life with her parents. One day she finds a secret doorway in her house which leads to a parallel universe where her parents are exciting, the boy next door isn’t such a brad and life is generally great. However, as she visits this parallel universe more often, her ‘Other Parents’ start to act more strange and the alternate dream world changes into a nightmare with devastating rapidness. Similarly, “Feed the Tape” seemingly creates a safe haven, a shelter where sounds are ordered and precise, but as each song progresses, the sounds become more distressing, and revisiting the record does not lead to familiarisation. Instead, the listener becomes all the more prone to its unsettling qualities.

As a conclusion I can say that rarely I have been touched more by an experimental record. It is dark and nerve-wrecking, but it is something new, it is something exciting. “Feed the Tape” is a veritable addition to the landscape of avant-garde art and sees Orson Hentschel at the front of a movement towards the future of music.

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