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Something That Has Form And Something That Does Not (On (Reworked by Fennesz))

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Album Review

The continuing project of On — where each new release by the duo of Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess becomes a remix collaboration with another artist — reaches another peak with the release of Something That Has Form and Something That Does Not. There's a simple but key reason — this time around, the collaborator is Fennesz, the noted Austrian guitarist/soundscape creator who thrives in partnerships as much as he does on his own. Hearing the high, persistent feedback scrawl on the opening "The Inconsolable Polymath" almost marks his participation from the start, but the best partnerships find ways to meet in the middle; the floating drones and calm piano suggest, however subtly, something different from the invited guest. From there the album progresses with five tracks of varying length, with a crumbling wash of sonics set against a calm, sudden precision that could come from any of the participants — the arcing whine of something almost mechanistic on "Blank Space," the metronymic yet still almost strangely unstable cymbal hits on "A Tardy Admission That the Crisis is Serious." The title track's use of percussion starting almost five minutes in after an extended drone/loop opening is a nice enough touch of drama, but even more appealing when it makes the music sound like a murkier, late Talk Talk instrumental. Meanwhile, the concluding "The Sound of White" might be the most opaque of the five tracks — less obviously a collaboration between two different acts than something else again, a flowing movement over 20 minutes of a bright loop, implied rhythms without beats, and the occasional chime.

Customer Reviews

Great experimental ambient

Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess, who record together as On, have an interesting approach to their music. First they recorded some live improvisations in their studio. Then they handed those recordings over to experimental drone maestro Christian Fennesz to rework the music completely. You can call these "remixes" but the album is really a unique collaboration between the artists: Chauveau and Hess provided the raw material, Fennesz refined that raw material into 5 compelling tracks of abstract noise.

At times the music is tense and uneasy, like "Blank Space" with its restless crackles and harsh textures or "The Inconsolable Polymath" with its dissonant tones. Yet it can also be quite mesmerizing and peaceful. The final track, "The Sound of White", is pure bliss. A looping pattern creates a feeling of stasis, but an undercurrent of sound pushes the piece forward, evolving slowly. It's as if you are asleep and you can hear someone moving about in the same room, but you are unable to wake up and your hazy consciousness can not fully grasp what it is hearing.

All together this album is a very rewarding listen. It's worth the purchase if you listen to experimental ambient/drone music.

You either get it or you don't

I read some of the one star review's and I don't quite think everyone understands this music. There is a time and place for which certain genres are appropriate. I love almost all music so long as its good (to me) , hip hop, rock, electronica, jazz and all in between. I like to listen to this stuff when Im reading, studying, or need to chill out. No beats or lyrics just hypnotic sounds to relax with.

Headphone space out

Grab the headphones and forget your place in the world with this one.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

On is singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ken Andrews' one-man band. Formerly of the alt-rock group Failure, Andrews began working on his own material after the band's demise in the late '90s. In 1999, Andrews released On's debut EP, Soluble Words,...
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Something That Has Form And Something That Does Not (On (Reworked by Fennesz)), On
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