Acezantez | Acezantez
Sub Rosa (LP)

Originally released in 1977, this self-titled re-issue is my personal introduction to Ansambl Centra za nove tendencije Zagreb, or Acezantez for short – likely for many of you as well! Croatian composer and instrumentalist Dubravko Detoni (b. 1937) is again seeing the light of day forty-one years after it’s original issue (notably by British imprint Paradigm Discs in 2000). The record brings together an ensemble of five players wielding wind instruments (including voice), piano, strings and even the Glockenspiel. The arrangements are broken into two compositions that run at about twenty minutes each, one per side: Kič-Varijacije/Kitch Variations and Bajka/Fable. Official re-release date is October 19.

From the first note this relegated into a magical, mystical setting, with twitchy bells and animated sounds like a Disney fairy making pixie dust flow from a wand. It’s a sprite atmosphere these musicians create, hard to imagine this is hardcopy. There’s a freeness to the way the quintet addresses the material, after all it was the 70’s I guess. This work is alive with much tension and bounty of cryptic corners and a tinge of folky atonality. It darts in and out of strange goings-on reminding me of an orchestra set to play in concert for a silent film. Yes, it’s “that” dramatic. It keeps good pace and has these rapturous breaks that become nearly silent, yet there’s always a flicker, a ticking, a small action to let you know the stage is a beguiling place of activity. It all ends like space junk playing a disappearing act.

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Where atonality is to the fore in much avant-garde music, Deoni’s sense of abrasion is met with bouts of melodic intervention. Elsewhere, heavy industrial sounds are used as percussive texture; mixed with forceful electronics and dramatic instrumental passages, they create a complex and textured series of compositions.”

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Once you flip the record out pops the granular surface of Bajka/Fable – like rolling marbles along a race course for toy cars but amplified to super-human scale. It’s an abstract set of contortions where voices are instruments and verse-vica. The stops and starts like a tape-loop rewinding cut-ups is matched with the stern of a ship and a foghorn in the distance. It’s as romantic as it is strange. Brussels-based imprint Sub Rosa has long celebrated some long forgotten oddities in the world of electronic sound and avant work that would slip into the annals of time without them. This particular piece is astonishing in its noir patina, a very activated set of passages that will stir the most casual listener. By incorporating radio voiceovers and other random foreign signals it causes for an optical connection to the material that feels tactile. This is especially obvious when a series of cosmic effects blend with industrial machinations and a sweet voice reading from an old fable. It goes deeper and deeper, bright eyes, layered and becoming more suspiciously distorted and marvelously convoluted.

MODERN PLUMBING: Everything but the kitchen sink and a whole ball of wax (and a bag of chips). OK, my breathlessness kicking in even further – they roll the tape, roll it like a film reel flying off the handle, and try to catch up and make sense of it all as it giggles and whimpers. The last eight minutes of this is to be heard to be believed as it wrangles spoken word into a set of fractured cartoons. The human voice never sounded so peculiar, hushed, slowed, compressed — coming off in certain instances like an odd preamble of baby talk. Devoid of actual words this plays a certain lip-service to accidental linguistics. This breaks all the rules of language, and then some. Ending on a call for help that is simply seductive.  Can you fall in love with a record?

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