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Bob Ostertag

Sooner or Later (RecRec RecDec 37) CD 43 minutes

This is played entirely on a digital sampling keyboard, using only two brief tape recordings as sound sources. The first is a recording of a young boy from El Salvador, burying his father, killed by the National Guard, and the second is a 20-second recording of Fred Frith's guitar playing. Ostertag's political commitment is unquestionable, but it's difficult not to have some misgivings about his deconstruction of this young boy's grief. The recordings are chopped up and reassembled, layered and slightly processed. It's much better than most sound disassembly, precisely because of the very strong focus produced by the limited raw material. What results is never comfortable entertainment. Ostertag manages to find both great sadness, terrible anger and a pathetic beauty in the sound texture that results. It's frequently powerful and disconcerting listening, but occasionally it's just ineffective improvisation. The best moments come both from those that remain most faithful to source, and those that make it most unrecognisable. [Distributed by Rec Rec Genossenschaft, Postfach, 8026 Z¸rich, Switzerland; or These Records in the UK] BD

[jim horton thinks that S or L is completely non-exploitative but on the contrary is artistically composed to elicit compassion]


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