Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


ALFRED 23 HARTH - Anything goes (Creative Works Records)

Those who think of constantly changing music as enervating should immediately turn their "attention" somewhere else, since these two albums, recorded by Harth halfway through the 80's, a truly bad period for artistic intelligence (indeed, not very much has changed), present hundreds of different approaches and genders which, fused together, feel like a riptide of brain-zapping instantaneity. "Anything goes", released in 1986, is Harth's second production on this label after "Red Art" (more about this one later) and also his first remix; its title refers both to the era in which the record came out and the works of Paul Feyerabend. The LP itself is purely and simply a sampladelia-cum-plunderphonic composition divided in two parts, "Beethoven, anything goes" and "Eris". The author tried, in his own words, to "take three of the strongest music sources of those years, Goebbels, Oswald and Zorn, and make something stronger out of them". By collaging fragments from these artists' releases, Harth engineers a lucid pastiche of electroacoustic matter; the operation's success is guaranteed by a perfect balance of fantasy and technical maturity, for the mix - in terms of volume, imaging and variety of ideas - is next to perfection. This is the deranged TV channel we all dream about: a CNN permutation, hybrid of horror movie and soap opera whose background music could include birds, regular singing, screaming children, nuclear fusion and the 20th Century Fox theme, but also spacey reverberations, a chainsaw-operating maniac and perpendicular TV themes. Whichever side you look at it, a great album.

In Touching Extremes

ALFRED 23 HARTH - Plan Eden (Creative Works Records)

The titles of "Plan Eden", out in 1987, refer to Doris Lessing, Friedrich Nietzsche, Robert Anton Wilson and Harth himself. It's another "separated at birth" statement: the first side is Harth solo on the tenor sax, playing a series of short improvisations whose atmosphere changes like tropical weather: a serene reverb-drenched meditation one moment, a torrent of multiphonic schizophrenia a minute later, and the firm reminder that what we currently worship in the so-called "reductionist" movement had already been tackled by Mr.23 at least a decade earlier. The second side features a clutch of duets with Lindsay Cooper - on bassoon and sopranino, while Harth uses clarinets - and a furious one with John Zorn, plus a three-minute improvised "mini opera" with Phil Minton gurgling his tonsils out and a pre-iPod, pre-electronics Günter Müller on drums among the others. In this album, just like in "Anything goes", the composer also took good care of the cover artwork; the LPs include inserts with Harth's drawings, and the nostalgic collector who replaces my good self every once in a while is still moved by the carton's smell of his treasured copies. Sniff....Aaaahhh....

In Touching Extremes