Tabs Out | The Lärmschutz splits

The Lärmschutz splits

6.11.19 by Ryan Masteller

Faux Amis records is putting their money where their mouth (mouths?) is (are?) here in 2019, as in they’re not kidding around at all when it comes to releasing tapes. The label, based in Utrecht, Netherlands, is unleashing a tape a month from fellow Utrecht-based freeform noiseniks Lärmschutz, in what is almost certainly a sign that our world is probably coming to an end very soon. But it’s not just Lärmschutz on these things, oh no; the trio’s bringing along pals for the ride, splitting the releases right down the middle, guests on the A-side, Lärmschutz on the B. In what is perhaps the most democratic use of magnetic tape since the advent of the compilation (except those ones that have like five songs by the curating act), these releases showcase experimental artists in their natural habitat: basements, hunched over vast arrays of instruments and effects.

I kid! I’m sure some of these people go out in the daytime occasionally. Don’t they?


Webster and Dunning each has a vast discography, and they’ve even played together before too, most notably in the Markus Popp cover album “Oval” (I think I may have the facts wrong there). Here they run clichés through the ringer – not musical clichés, oh HELL no! I’m talking about actual clichés, like “If it’s broke, don’t fix it” (although I’m not sure they got that one right), “Paint yourself into a corner,” and “Burn that bridge when you come to it.” Actually, I don’t think they got any of that right. Maybe the idea is subversion, and if it is, then they’ve done it! Utilizing snare and objects (Dunning) and alto and baritone saxes (Webster), the duo paint deceptively mesmerizing portraits with their interplay, their intimate recordings a paragon of organic acoustic instrumentation. Lärmschutz follows suit on their side, offering restrained takes with their usual guitar/trombone/electronics setup, sounding relatively unplugged, a perfect counterpart to their A-side mates. (Also, it’s nice to see that the Dutch also enjoy “Stranger Things.”)


Dirk Serries plays one noisy guitar – but that’s just the “surface,” get it? As in, “Surface chord extraction…”That’s the name of his lone twenty-one-minute track. You wouldn’t get the reference unless you had the tape in front of you, I imagine. Doesn’t matter. If you play through “Surface chord extraction” one time, you’ll scratch precisely that: the surface. Repeat listens are the key, wherein you’ll unearth nuance that you missed the first time around, because maybe you were emailing your coworkers with Serries’s tidal waves of lava belching through your speakers in the background. You gotta rectify that. Lärmschutz, for their part, scale back, especially in relation to Serries squalls of feedback. “The particular sadness of February” mirrors that actual feeling, with low-tone dread punctuated by guitar and electronics throughout the track’s twenty-three minutes. It’s a nice counterpoint to Serries, and each side when juxtaposed with the other enhances the overall effect.


Balagan’s almost as old as my parents! Wow, that’s a crazy thing to know. I’m gonna be honest, if my dad was a musician (he most certainly is not), he’d be worshipping at the altar of Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley and, ugh, Johnny Horton for god’s sake. Balagan, aka Sylvain Perge, is so not my dad that it’s … refreshing. Yeah, that’s the word. Perge plays trombone, synths, guitar, and piano, and his side of the split is a delightful revelation of scattered ideas that cohere into an exciting whole. Perge darts back and forth from acoustic to electric instruments, and he’s quite adept at teasing out fascinating passages no matter what he’s playing. It’s playful and forward-thinking all at once. See Dad? You CAN do new and interesting things as you get older! Lärmschutz, relative whippersnappers that they are, take a page from the Balagan playbook and mirror the playfulness of his side. Less abstract than some of their pieces on the earlier tapes, the tracks here gallop and lurch, stutter and weave, bringing together stark experimentalism and cohesive band interplay in a single entertaining package.

Now, where’s volumes 4 and 5? Oh, they’re already out…

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