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Alva Noto – Xerrox Vol. 3

Xerrox Vol. 3

Xerrox Vol. 3 is the third part (duh!) in what is going to be a five part series inspired by the process of copying.
All three parts have their subtitle: “Old World” (Xerrox Vol. 1, 2007), “New World” (Xerrox Vol. 2, 2009) – and  now Vol. 3 is labeled: “Towards Space” .

It took five years to release this part of the Xerrox series. There were other Alva Noto releases in that time, but this one returns to the basic concept of copying (sometimes referred to as Xerroxing):
“using the process of copying as a basis, the xerrox series deals with the manipulation of data by means of endless reproduction. Due to the inherent vice of the procedure that becomes especially visible when copies are made from copies, everyday sound are so much altered that they can be hardly associated with the source material anymore. As a result, entirely new sounds are created that, being copies of originals, become originals themselves.” 

When comparing this third album to its predecessors in the same series, it seems that the sounds here are somewhat more ’emotional’ than before.
I don’t mean to say that the previous editions were without emotions (because they weren’t) – but there ís a difference… It’s as if the copying process has been made secondary to conveying more personal emotions this time.
As if the copies have become originals, maybe?

No doubt this can also be related to Alva Noto‘s source of inspiration: his childhood film memories from the 1970’s including Tarkovsky’s Solaris and La Isla Misteriosa Y el Capitán Nemo.
The combination of the xerroxed sounds, detached from its originals, with the quiet, unhurried melodic arrangements indeed breathes the same mysterious atmosphere that has made Solaris into one of the greatest movies of all time.

While the concept of the repeated copying as a continuous process sounds somewhat theoretical, the result is suprisingly personal: “a personal reflection of dreams, an imaginary journey through emotional landscapes”.
A suprise also for Carsten Nicolai himself: “I have to admit that this emotional output is a surprise even for myself”.

If Xerrox were intended to be a trilogy, this would have been the perfect finale.
But it does not stop here, and with two more parts to go we can only wonder where Alva Noto will go from here. I guess the only one possible destiny can be the future
 … and – no doubt – far beyond.

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Alva Noto – XERROX


William Basinski has built almost his entire oeuvre on deteriorating copies of original tape recordings. (The Disintegration Loops may be the best example).
So, when reading about the new Alva Noto release, Xerrox, I had to suppress a ‘not again’ yawn..

“Via the technique of duplication the copy often contains mistakes and glitches that differ from the original. The mutating copy emerges as a new original and thereby provides space for development”

I can understand a tape deteriorating (which is what Basinski uses), but how’s that with digital samples? Isn’t a digital copy exact the same as the original?

For Xerrox, Carsten Nicolai used the xerrox sample transformer built by Christoph Brünggel to  process the orginal samples.
Funny, isn’t it? Someone creating a device to simulate the deterioration that the new digital recording techniques eliminated….

The copies of the samples used are very much detached from their originals, and still live a life of their own. The overall sound is harsh and high pitched, as might be expected, but the very thing that struck me is that there is an emotional chord in this recordings that makes it differ from other, comparable projects.
This project is not about how copies sound when sampled and resampled. It’s about how sampled and resampled copies may sound when you order them in a specific way and add emotional content by arranging them to sound like beautiful chords..
In fact, that may be what separates the artist from the standard cut’n’paste computer user

Alva Noto – Xerrox

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