CM Von Hausswolff – 800 000 Seconds in Harar (Touch) 2011


I the last few years of his life, Arthur Rimbaud, lived in Harar Ethiopia where he made his living as a coffee merchant and arms dealer. It was the place where he first started suffering the symptoms of cancer which would later claim his life at the age of 37. A playwright, Ullrich Hillebrad sent Swedish sound artist and composer  CM Von Hausswolff to Harar to record sounds for some music that he wanted Von Hausswolf to develop for a play based on a letter written by Rimbaud.

Von Hauswolff manages to  get a large number of field recordings from his stay in Harar as well as some notes from an ethiopian string  instrument called a krar which he then creates into pieces of the most exquisite minimalist drone. The first two tracks, Day and Night,are like a perfect amalgam of two of my favourite records, Russell Haswell’s Wild Tracks and Kevin Drumm’s Imperial Horizon.  The remaining two tracks are not quite as strong as the two openers, but the third track Alas! is what I reckon Stars of the Lid would sound like if they scored a horror film. Glacial tension if you can imagine such a thing. I suppose another way to hear it is  as an interesting link to Von Hausswolff’s interest in EVP’s and other  spooky things.  The final track is much more challenging.   A Sleeper in the Valley is an oscillator overlaying a morse code rendition of one of Rimbaud’s poems. Awesome? Shit yeah! And pretentious as fuck I might add but when the record sounds this good I  don’t really care.

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