AGF, “head slash bauch”

Artist: agh
Title: head slash bauch
Release Date:

AGF, head slash bauch, released 2002 by Orthlong Musork

01) liniendicke
02) bgcolor
03) torture
04) rauhe wand++
05) kassandra
06) graue wand
07) readme
08) brut al
09) breite wand
10) impuls
11) suba+++
12) shumine
13) mandeln
14) klick mich
15) uralow
16) kalt
17) zwangsam schwierig
18) knitter
19) object
20) hand
21) tag or limit the amount of so
22) trink und vergiss mich
23) specify u

agf stands for Antye-Greie Fuchs, a female vocalist and electronic artist best known for her work with electronic pop outfit Laub. Head Slash Bauch, her first solo album, is extremely abstract, harsh, and abrasive electronic music, but quite satisfying if I’m in the right mood — which, admittedly, is a rare occurrence.

The tracks on the album are based on “glitch” music, music based on the pops and clicks of malfunctioning equipment, bad wiring, skipping CDs — “wrong” sounds, essentially. Unlike much glitch music, this is not so much intended to be danced to as to provide an alien sound-world (probably conciously) in the spirit of Xenakis and Stockhausen. This in and of itself would be interesting but not really good.

What makes this CD compelling is the extensive processing agf applies to her vocals. Most of the text — German HTML code, I believe — is chanted, with a bit of singing. Her voice is clear, silky, and cold, detached from any humanity…and therefore perfect for electronic manipulation, which ends up sounding like the aural equivalent of corrupt video — pixelation, digital artifacts, color bleed, etc.[1] I think that’s quite cool, as I have always been fascinated by electronic deformation of the human voice, although I’ve never done anything significant with it myself[2]. Your mileage may vary.

Despite Head Slash Bauch‘s abrasive sonic environment, agf’s voice somehow gives it a fragility, like a complex tower built out of glass or crystal, even as its presence adds a grotesque and unsettling element. It’s not an experience for everyone, and only barely one for me. But it’s a very cool project, one which I respect very much; and I’m glad to have heard it, even though it’s something I would rarely listen to for pleasure.

(1) Think Shodan, but, like, cubed and used as a musical instrument.

(2) I think that no matter how dense or interesting a musical texture, if there’s a vocal element in it — even if barely audible — our ear automatically and inescapably latches onto it, the way a streak of red would focus our attention in a painting of mostly blues and greens. We’re hardwired to lock on to the human voice, to give it priority over any other auditory stimulus — and I find it particularly interesting when that focal point is distorted and made clearly inhuman.