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Album Review

Following the critically acclaimed CD Defragmentation/Blue, Relisten is, from at least one perspective, its exact opposite. The 2000 album created the illusion of a deserted hospital, while this release focuses on revealing the inner beauty of selected field recordings. The album opens with "It's Like," a collage of American idioms. Very different from everything that follows, this prologue takes its meaning from its title, which could be used to describe any of the other tracks. "It's like hundreds of bees," someone could say about "Bee Bee," a clever piece using the humming of the Brooklyn Bridge as a sound source. Gal applies Francisco Lopez's technique of starting from near-silence and building up to a climactic roar, letting the sounds gain meaning with decibels. Only during the last quarter do the bees start to sound like cars. Transportation is also at the heart of "57A" (public transportation in Vienna) and "68th Street" (a subway station in New York City). Both works are strong examples of evocative musique concrète, restructured soundscapes. More enigmatic, "Lv, Nv" was made using heavily treated money and slot machine sounds. The aerial events heard sound synthetic (one thinks of Sergio Barroso's music). Gal slips in a few seconds of field recording from a casino to give the listener a key. "Tong-Hua Yie-Shi" is an untreated stereo field recording, a walk in a Taiwanese market by night — one take, untreated. It offers a puzzling, shifting landscape where the human factor is strong. Interesting as an aural document, it introduces an element of discomfort among the other tracks — hearing the Backstreet Boys (from a nearby ghetto blaster) is not what listeners would expect. Less striking than Defragmentation/Blue, Relisten still shows Gal's commanding talent for sound art. Recommended. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Relisten, Gal
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