Radboud Mens - Test Tones: "Maybe a high price for the real thing, but worth every penny in your download price range."
You could think I put 280 euros on the table to purchase this record, as that is this price it is sold for, and yes, that’s pretty steep indeed, but it comes in a box, with three artworks by the composer and a poster; oh, and there is only one copy available. I didn’t buy it, but I did hear it and so can you, as the music itself is available as a download. It might be no secret that I know mister Mens for a long time, and at one point we were even colleagues. I followed his career from early on, when he called himself Hyware, then Technoise and ultimately under his own name, when he released a bunch of highly minimal techno 12″s, mainly on the audio.nl label. In 2001 Mens made music with a test-tone record and a delay unit, set in a locked groove tempo, thus overlapping sounds and creating a rhythm. It was a project he never finished, but for his Sediment release (which is all about a concert and a subsequent ‘one copy LP’ release, hand-cut) he dug out the original idea and in concert scratched the test tone record while playing it. That’s what you get on vinyl; or download. As I was playing this I looked a few times up and thought ‘wow that is a scratchy record’ and then realized it was a digital file. It is an odd combination these test tone sounds and the scratching of the vinyl. At times it locks into a fine rhythm, with the test tones providing the bass and the scratches the high end sounds (hi-hats?), and they grow together in an organic way, but it never becomes a dance record of any kind. And sometimes, especially on the second side this grows into something quite chaotic and then it doesn’t work very well. The first side is for me the better of the two; everything evolves in a natural way and there is quite a bit of tension in the music and a natural flow to the piece. There is also a bonus in which Mens takes one of his old Audio.NL and adds scratches to that, thus giving it the good ol’ Thomas Brinkmann approach, when we first got to him. Maybe this one is also chaotic at times, but with the entirely different result than on the LP, and a very nice result at that. Maybe a high price for the real thing, but worth every penny in your download price range. (FdW)