Electroshock Records: Review:  
Antanas Jasenka: “Point/Circle” (Electroshock Records 2010, ELCD 059)

7 tracks. Total time - 67:16.

“Point Circle” pretty much pushes the envelope as far as it will stretch when defining what is exactly music and when sound is just that... sound. The album is made up of two distinct sections - the first is called “In/Out”, and over its six lengthy tracks it individually features drones created by flute, organ, trombone, siren, electric piano and CPU which are then treated by software on the computer to sound... Well, sound like anything but what they originally did. Sometimes these drones change only minutely while others do gradually evolve into something slightly more musical. This is machine or system music at its most pure, and one could imagine the Cyborgs in the “Terminator” movies grooving to these mathematically created “boogies” on their internal sound systems while slaughtering the remnants of Mankind. The final piece on the album is called “Out off Ciurlionis”, which is performed by string quartet and live electronics. This features drones and dissonances created by the Chordos String quartet, while Antana Jasenka and Antana Kucinskas treat this sound live and create new sounds mixed in with the original. It seems reminiscent to what Stockhausen used to do, and I don’t feel equipped to judge it any further. “Point Circle” is an album which will have a job finding a home in any regular music collection - mainly because the music has been stripped down to its primal core, just the basic elements of sound.

John M. Peters ("The Borderland")

Antanas Jasenka has taken the opportunity with his latest record “Point/Circle” to really create a vessel for the listener to take advantage of, if he or she wishes to step out of mind and body for oh say sixty-seven minutes. The collections of fluctuating tones snuck up upon by moments of sheer dissonant fear and terror enable you to transcend time and space, if only for a short time. Each piece was arranged for a specific instrument (and computer) ranging from flute to trombone to electric organ and finally culminating with a piece “for string quartet and live electronics”. Each song is distinct while remaining a part of the whole (appropriate considering the first six songs are technically different movements of a single entity wholly entitled “In/Out”), some with tastefully abrupt and crashing endings are reasonably minimal in a way that really works, with textures flowing slowly in, around and through themselves. There is even a point where Jasenka introduces what I could only classify as light digital funk. This album is otherworldly, drifting along the edges of reality. The record defies me not to specifically mention the incredible “Out off Ciurlionis”, the piece designed for string quartet. Now I definitely expected something other than the average symphonic piece here, but my expectations were nonetheless completely shattered. Completely unconventional use of the instruments makes for one of the most interesting string pieces I’ve had the pleasure to baste my ears with. The booklet of the disc contains a schematic diagram of the processes used in the creation of this song wherein the actual audio of the instruments was through various means converted into digital commands which fueled both audio and video processing, essentially making one great, giant proverbial feedback loop, a concept which I find quite interesting, if only I could see the video which was produced.

Barton Graham (“Chain D.L.K.”)

“Point/Circle” is Lithuanian composer Antanas Jasenka’s third album for the “Electroshock Records” label. The CD consists of two compositions, starting with the 6 part 44 minute “In/Out”. The piece is a mostly quiet, understated sound exploration. It opens with a single electronic wave wandering steadily along a subtly evolving path, accompanied by a quieter, barely present partner. Two other components of the piece are billed as being for flute and computer, and trombone and computer, though if there‘s flute and trombone they are processed beyond recognition. Jasenka makes interesting use of pulsations, vibrations and ambient waves. At times I felt a cold spacey ambience, filled with howling and weaving drones and scattered blips. I liked the dark intensity of the fourth part, “Output/Input”, which has a somewhat orchestral sound and a nice spacey vibe. But the final part, “Output 1”, was my favorite, being the most varied, musical, and rhythmic section of the piece with its off-kilter beats, sharp scattered blips, string plucking, water drips, pleasant melody, and much more. An interesting and stimulating conglomeration of sounds.
The second composition on the CD is the 23 minute “Out off Ciurlionis”. Credited as being for string quartet and live electronics, Jasenka and fellow electronic artist Antanas Kucinskas are accompanied by two violins, viola and cello. The piece opens with the musicians plucking their instruments and using controlled breathing effects in accompaniment. The pace slowly picks up as the musicians bow, pluck and manipulate their instruments to produce pleasantly accessible avant-garde chamber music. It isn’t until around the 10 minute mark that the electronics are introduced and it’s an interesting combination indeed. The strings play along merrily while the two Antanas’ crank out playful alien sounds. At times the music has a humorous Carl Stalling quality, and it was easy to imagine a Bugs Bunny-Daffy Duck adventure. But overall the electronics are secondary to the strings on this piece and I would have preferred more prominence and assertive interplay with the string musicians. Lots of great possibilities with this combination.

Spaceman33 (“Aural Innovations”)

In this album, Lithuanian electronic musician Antanas Jasenka offers us a work (“In/Out”) in six parts composed by him, and another work by him and Antanas Kucinskas (“Out off Ciurlionis”). The six themes that make up “In/Out” range from mysterious ambient to electronic experimentation. The music has an attractive cybernetic air, not only for the use of the computer but also for the textures of sound, deliberately icy and enigmatic, which enhance the extra human, hypnotic character of the melodies. As if in a journey to the soul of circuitry, the compositions suggest ghostly soaring over continents of bytes, or whispers between awareness and the unconscious uttered by beings shaped in the innermost core of chips. “Out off Ciurlionis”, on the other hand, combines electronics with a string quartet, and flows near the approaches of “contemporary music” or the “new music”.

Eduardo Fontana (“Amazing Sounds”)

Lithuanian composer Antanas Jasenka has earned notoriety over the past decade or so for his works in the electronic realm. He’s into the science of sounds, especially when they’re electronically generated. It’s easier to absorb what he’s doing if you think of non-melodic sounds as music - no problem for fans of folks like Edward Artemiev or Terry Riley. Jasenka is noted for using a laptop as a sound generating device, capturing signal inputs and processing them into drones that are then ma­nipulated, often beyond recognition. This collection includes treatments of flute, organ, trombone, electric piano and even a siren. By layering the sounds Jasenka tries to imbue the resulting soundscapes with organic qualities, though I find the results often to be cold and artificial. That’s not to say these pieces don’t produce an emotional response, though they tend toward visions of dystopian futuristic settings (think George LucasTHX1138”) or white noise vistas in limbo. Part of appreciating Jasenka’s work requires an understanding of the process employed to produce these sounds, and fortunately he even includes a “schema” to show how all the elements interconnect. This is most relevant on the last piece, “Out off Ciurlionis”, a collaboration between Jasenka and a string quartet where he provides real time signal processing. The human brain is a funny thing when it comes to interpreting sound and here Jasenka is pushing the boundary of what it means for sound to be musical. His findings are - to quote Mr. Spock - “fascinating”.

Paul Hightower (“Expose”)


The “Chordos String Quartet” joins Antanas Jasenka and Antanas Kucinskas for this outing. Recorded at the “Lithuanian Composer Sound Studio” in Vilnius; Antanas’ efforts here are clearly intense and consistent. (Lithuania has a large and varied electronic music scene. But Lithuanian electronic music influences are global rather than local.) His work seems to belong within the context of the sound art scene and it is dynamic and multilayered, populated with diverse electronic sound objects - from glitch to soundscape. The conception: The beginning is the end. The end of the circle is in the path. There is no straight line, yet he lays a straight line to fascination.

(“DWM” Music Company)



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