Review: Die Neuen IBM – Herzkreisnegativ

Die Neuen IBM - HerzkreisnegativThe sound of the cassette can be a grubby amulet found in an old attic box. A token of a time-space-elsewhere, raising more questions than it cares to answer, pointing toward a potential origin and letting the mind of the finder imagine the rest. With Herzkreisnegativ, I hear machines that were lost down the cracks of technological evolution. A scientist’s crackpot teleportation device in the 1970s; a contraption whose loud, dramatic sonic by-product makes promises that the machine itself cannot keep. It fires up, and I hear the whirring motors and the electronic pulsations of complicated quantum probes – the escalating symphony of science, as the machine fires up and prepares to do…nothing. Everything stops. The tape wobbles and warps. What just happened?

That’s another thing about the cassette. Fuck the polite cross-faded etiquette of digital mediums. Tape is all about brash jump-cuts, tugging me by the collar between times and places, thrusting me in the midst of a process that may have been going on for an hour prior to my arrival. Near the end of the first side I’m presented with a mesh of dissonant organ tones, throbbing gently and twirling between different pitches; then suddenly I’m outside, listening to a synthesiser simulate the glutinous drip of a tap while traffic passes in the background; then amidst the cool breeze of a gigantic spacecraft hangar, listening to ships take off with a gentle rumble and whoosh. What Die Neuen IBM do so well is allude to music – an eerie, psychological sci-fi soundtrack to be precise – without ever actually making it. This is how instruments sound when they think all of the microphones are turned off. Organs and synthesisers grunt and moan, letting their sound unfurl like a body stretching in the morning, while Die Neuen IBM capture the scene via a dictaphone concealed in their top pocket.