ZEITKRATZER (feat. Lou Reed) - Metal Machine Music

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Untitled (3rd Track)

Metal Machine Music (excerpt)

Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music may be the most misunderstood work ever created by a popular musician. The original two record set, released in 1975, was mostly noise: feedback squalls, amplifier hums and the tortured screech of electronic gadgets. The consensus at the time was that it was not music, but a protest by Reed to his then - record label, RCA. People may not know that avant-garde musicians like John Cage, LaMonte Young, Iannis Xenakis and Reed's Velvet Underground partner John Cale had a considerable influence on the way he approached composition, even his more accessible rock and roll songs. Metal Machine Music was in some way a logical extension of atonal romps like "Heroin" and "Sister Ray. . . . . ."

Today Metal Machine Music has become accepted by the avant-garde and highly regarded for its contribution to the "noise" movement in popular culture. Directed by Reinhold Friedl, the 11-member ZEITKRATZER ensemble from Berlin gave Reed's album a thorough listen and and Ulrich Kreiger, the group's saxophon transcribed the sounds to create an acoustic music score for their ensemble to play live. Those familiar with the oft-criticized two-disc album might wonder how they pulled this off. ZEITKRATZER has the will and the musical ability to give the music the attention it deserves, having already produced minimalist reworkings and collaborations with artists like Keith Rowe, Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth, Carsten Nicolai and Elliott Sharp.

Says Lou Reed, "Let me give you a little background. Metal Machine Music was made 32 years ago. It was taken off the market three weeks after it was released. Still, time goes by and people get more used to what you call loops and electronics and noise and feedback. Okay? ZEITKRATZER gets in touch with me, 'Can we play Metal Machine Music live?' I said, 'It can't be done.' They said, 'We transcribed it. Let us send you a few minutes of it and you tell us.' They sent it, I listened to it, and the results were unbelievable. I said, 'My God! Okay, go do it.' They said, 'Will you play guitar on the third part of it?' So Metal Machine Music finally got performed live at the Berlin Opera House. It's extraordinary, because all those years ago it was considered a career ender. And it almost was, believe you me."

Reed's pronouncements on his most infamous opus have always been confusing, perhaps deliberately so, forcing listeners to come to their own interpretation about what they're hearing. Whatever the truth is, there's no denying the musicality (yes, the musicality) of ZEITKRATZER's interpretation.
With the 11 musicians - Burkhard Schlothauer, violin; Christian Messer, viola; Ulrich Maiss, violoncello; Alexander Frangenheim, contrabass; Ulrich Krieger, soprano and tenor saxophones;, Franz Hautzinger, trumpet; Melvyn Poore, tuba; Reinhold Friedl, piano; Luca Venitucci, accordion; Adam Weisman, percussion and Lou Reed, solo guitar - spread out over a large stage, the ear is free to wander into and around the music, picking out rhythms, overtones, hints of melody and other nuances that were largely submerged in Reed's original all guitar and amp onslaught. The relentless sound forces the mind to put aside its preconceptions about what music is supposed to sound like, or feel like, or look like. The brain starts to implode, or explode, or dissolve Zen-like into the controlled chaos of the performance, discovering a strange exhilaration, accepting an invitation to explore the outer reaches of texture and timbre and experience a sonic freedom that's rare in any art form.

Catalog Number: ASP 3002
Release Date: September 4, 2007

Track Listing

  1. Part One
  2. Part Two
  3. Part Three