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In the Last Hour

Janek Schaefer

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Album Review

In the press release accompanying In the Last Hour, Janek Schaefer claims this is his favorite album, but it seems he has been saying that with each new release since Pulled Under. True, Schaefer has been refining his art for the last few years, regularly reaching new heights, but you may not be quite willing to put this opus above Cold Storage — yet. However, In the Last Hour is a mighty fine record of ambient drones and puzzling sound art. Since Black Immure, Schaefer has been quieting down and uncluttering his sound. On this album, he sticks to a small selection of sound sources, most of them melodic in nature: piano, clarinet and chord organ, along with delicate location recordings and vinyl. Once his weapon of choice, the turntable is here relegated to the role of backdrop provider, occasionally weaving its way to the foreground in ways subtle enough to mistake it for something else — don't expect tunrtablist wizardry: the man is not there anymore. What you get instead are peaceful landscapes with occasionally troubling quirks, slowly unfolding between your ears. The album consists of four pieces that are actually movements of a single site-specific composition that runs for 60 minutes flat. The chord organ is omnipresent in the first pieces, before being replaced by a town hall organ, truly majestic in comparison. This switch conveys a liturgical feel to the final piece, "The Ruined City," the album's highlight. The first half of "Half Submerged by Each" is also exquisite; however, the second half peters out. In the Last Hour invites and rewards an immersive listen. You cannot be in a hurry to appreciate it. And it definitely takes Schaefer one step further away from the electronica concrète stylings of his early albums. In fact, this is his most contemplative work to date. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1970

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Londoner Janek Schaefer began deconstructing music at the tender age of six, when he assembled a sound collage called "Journey." After studying architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University, he continued his sound art experiments with a piece called "Recorded Delivery," which premiered at a London exhibition organized by Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson. The piece consisted of edited sounds culled from a tape recording made by a voice-activated device that traveled in a box through the British...
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In the Last Hour, Janek Schaefer
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