PBK ‘Macrophage/The Toil and The Reap’

When considering American independent electroacoustic music (as opposed to composers working in university studios), we generally spot strong individualities like Kim Cascone, John Hudak, Minoy, John Wiggins, Philip Perkins, etc (Tellus cassettes #13 Power Electronics, 1986 and #20 Media Myth, 1988, are a valid introduction), though it would make sense to consider the trend as a movement, like German Elektronische Musik or French Musique Concrète. Philip B. Klinger (b 1960, Michigan) has been a prominent figure of that scene since 1987, releasing many solo and collaborative tapes on various US underground labels. At first belonging to the nebulous US noise underground, his style had moved to distinct electroacoustic endeavors at the time of his first CD release, ‘Macrophage/The Toil and The Reap’ on Daniel Plunkett’s N D label. The disc pairs two electronic suites, the noise ambient Macrophage and the nuanced and restrained The Toil and The Reap. The opener ‘Forge’ aludes to Wagner in both title and content, as it could pass for an updated soundtrack to Siegfried‘s scene where the dwarf is forging a blade in a cave. Macrophage can be heard as an homage to Richard Wagner, the creator of noise music, though PBK put his PBKSound archive under the tutelar figure of Luigi Russolo. The Toil and The Reap explores dreamy, cinematographic territories with subtle combinations of inscrutable electronic and musique concrète sounds, synth loops and sound effects. The free-floating, amoebic music of track #10 ‘Beckoning’ is a collaboration with Dirk Serries’ Vidna Obmana. N D also released another PBK CD ‘Shadows Of Prophecy/In His Throes’ in 1994.
More info on soundgenetic.blogspot.com/. Thanks to Philip for permission.

01 Forge (6:06)
02 Enmesh (4:26)
03 Cell Wall Defect (3:45)
04 Fusion (5:41)
05 Onset (3:27)
06 Aftermath (3:49)
The Toil and The Reap
07 Anger and Real Force (5:21)
08 Till The Stone Spells A Name (7:45)
09 Eyelids Closed, As In A Dream (9:17)
10 Beckoning (5:50)
11 Poison Sweets Of Love (6:24)

Total time 61:49
CD released by N D , Austin, TX, USA, 1992



16 Responses to “PBK ‘Macrophage/The Toil and The Reap’”

  1. 2 continuo January 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    You’re welcome.

  2. 3 vc January 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    ditto- this is beautiful.

  3. 4 continuo January 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Agree, Vittorio. Nice paintings on your blog. Did you know Philip B. Klinger started as an abstract painter as well?

  4. 5 xopher.tm January 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I knew that! ;)

  5. 6 continuo January 26, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    I shall know: I have the smartest readership around ;D

  6. 7 Art Of Losing January 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Very nice indeed. thanks.

  7. 8 continuo January 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  8. 9 vc January 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Hi again, thanks for checking out the blog- yes, I knew PBK was a painter, I think I read it in the Electronic Cottage zine, back when I ordered the Die Brücke cassette.
    It’s fun to think about the parallels. . .

  9. 10 Acousmata January 31, 2010 at 12:42 am

    “…Richard Wagner, the creator of noise music…”

    I believe this statement demands a bit of explanation! I’m all ears.

  10. 11 continuo January 31, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Obviously, Industrial Music had to be born during an Industrial Revolution, I’m thinking of the Second Revolution, around 1850 in Europe. A time of steam engines, power looms, blast furnaces, gas lighting, factories, railways, printing presses, etc. The terrible concert piano (“a more powerful, sustained piano sound, made possible by the ongoing Industrial Revolution”, Wikipedia, Piano article) was invented to resonate in newly-build, large concert venues. Hence, 19th century music will be played with hammers, as composers rushed to use the noise potential of the new machine (Liszt, Alkan). It took Wagner to understand and use the psychological aspects of noise, to impress, shock and submit audiences with dreadful orchestral settings during his operas. The Times’ review of a 1855 Tannhäuser performance is clear: “A more inflated display of extravagance and noise has rarely been submitted to an audience.”

  11. 12 Acousmata January 31, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Ah, now I see your angle. But if you’re relating the “discovery” of noise to the industrial revolution, wouldn’t the discoverer be not Wagner but Berlioz?

    Even so, I’m a bit skeptical, since people have always used “noise” to refer to sounds they thought were unpleasant or that they couldn’t understand.

  12. 13 continuo January 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    That’s exactly what The Times’ reviewer wrote: “extravagance and noise submitted to an audience”. Do you have an example of noise in Berlioz? (I don’t).

  13. 14 Acousmata January 31, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    “The fifth part [of the Symphonie Fantastique], the Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath, mingles the trivial, the grotesque, and the barbarous; it is a saturnalia of noise and not of music.” This is Francois-Joseph Fetis, writing in the Revue musicale in 1835. Robert Schumann, in his review from the same year, quoted the following anonymous comment in response to Berlioz’s music: “Que cela est fort beau, quoique ce ne soit pas de la musique” (“It’s very beautiful, although it isn’t music”).

    Like I said, I think you can find people using “noise” as a derogatory term throughout music history. What’s new in the 19th century is how music begins to resonate with the soundscape of industrialization, as you suggest.

  14. 15 continuo January 31, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I’m not convinced by your Berlioz example, and Fétis doesn’t appear like someone able to grasp new musical tendencies. My point is this: some 19th c. composers deliberately used noise (loudness, dissonance and non-musical sounds) as a way to express their ideas. The general public usually considers everything as ‘noise’ except pop songs, but this has nothing to do with composers using noise in their music.

  15. 16 Acousmata January 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Your distinction is a helpful one, between noise as a catch-all for “non-music” and noise in a strict sense, as the deliberate employment of certain kinds of sounds. On this much we agree! But I stand by Berlioz. In his time and afterward he was perceived as a noisy composer, an experimenter in timbre and orchestration.

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