23five are a new label for me and with further investigation I was impressed by their back catalogue. The previous output had included personal favourites, Zbigniew Karkowski and Francisco Lopez. In terms of audio expectations this pointed towards avant-garde sound art over the DIY execution of tape noise outfits. (The end result was somewhere in between but leaned more toward the avant-garde). Also new for me was the name Chopshop ? the moniker for New York based sound artist, Scott Konzelmann. For over twenty years Konzelmann has produced varied sound art and a mere handful of physical releases in an astonishing variation of formats. Notable outputs have even landed him releases for the highly successful V2 label.
This record plays like a documentary, reminding me of the exquisite compilations of nature recorder Chris Watson. It?s made up of one 50 minute track that?s been surgically sliced into smaller particles with the aid of silence. The sound is comprised from a scrapbook of decaying and dying sounds. Many of the recordings document the final death-rattle of badly damaged and decaying tapes. Konzelmann comprised various scraps of salvaged tape after an unhappy accident, which resulted in a large quantity of the original Oxide recordings being badly damaged by moisture. Konzelmann decided he would rescue his efforts in completing the record as a document to decay.
The various sounds are full of hiss and wavering drones. Simple, yet organically complex in its irregularity, the sound rests somewhere between William Basinski and the Halfler Trio; with a little of the darkness of Zoviet France?s minimal work. This is sound that warrants attention, and which would sit more comfortably in a gallery space rather than one?s living room or on one?s headphones. Airport ventilation and inner-storm rumblings gather and lose momentum in what feels like considered randomness. This is a tightly composed piece executed with precise attention and a deep appreciation for each sound sequence, rather than trusting to randomness and destruction. The slow trudge towards the inevitable conclusion of death bares comparison to the video work of Bill Viola and his study of decaying fruit and animals. It voices the wonderment of natures directing hand in manipulating our ephemeral efforts.
To conclude I found the overall affect arresting but also a little dull in its range. Some sections warranted shorter attention and others longer. This is minimal fog of varying density that insists on being heard. It comes on a limited CD (500 copies), yet would suit vinyl a lot better due to its quality and organic nature. Yet it may be the artists prerogative not to disrupt the 50 minute running time. This was a project heightened by chance and a rare look into the collapse of a sonic structure. 7/10 -- Peter Taylor (13 August, 2008)