Erik Friedlander
/brassland; 2005/


OK. What do we have here. A celloist? Solo? All right, I’ll give it a listen, but then I’m putting Antics back in. Huh? I’m supposed to read these excerpts from some surrealist poet while listening to enhance the experience. OK, whatever.

“...unless he bring to his reading a rigorous logic and mental application at least as tough enough to balance his distrust, the deadly sins of this book will lap up his soul as water does sugar.”

Ohh, I’m scared. What is this? The guy’s playing a creepy cello. Is it all gonna be like this. OK fine, I’ll listen closely. This material is messed up though, all this guy writes about is disturbing stuff.

“...sink your long nails into his tender breast, but not so that he dies, for if he died you would miss the sight of his subsequent sufferings.”

Is he playing or attacking the thing? Those sudden strikes. All of these notes are so, twisted is more like it. Huh, nahh it’s not that creepy...

“Then dogs, driven wild, snap their chains and escape from far-off farms...Suddenly they stop, stare in every direction with a fierce unease, their eyes ablaze, and, as elephants in the desert look up one last time at the sky before dying, desperately lifting their trunks.”

It’s pretty heavy, I’ll give it that. Wait, it’s getting nicer now, finally. Really soft plucking. OK I’m going to ease up a bit, this is less engaging. Told ya it’s not that heavy. But...I’m still sorta nervous. I don’t know why. Oh shit, what the fuck is that still the cello... Shit, is someone crying?

“ a poplar leaf blown along by the whirlwind of unconscious powers she, her youth, her illusions and the past happiness she glimpses again through the mists of a demolished mind.”

Alarms are going said there were no sound effects! My God, that high pitched ping. It says here something about a madwoman dancing while she dimly remembers something. What is she trying to remember? There’s kids around. Why can I see this so clearly...

“I am filthy. Lice gnaw me. Swine, when they look at me, vomit...Seated on a shapeless chunk of furniture, I have not moved a limb for four centuries. My feet have taken root in the soil forming a sort of perennial vegetation not yet quite plant-life though no longer flesh as far as my belly and filled with vile parasites. My heart, however, is still beating.”

That’s got to be a sound effect, he can‘t make that noise, it‘s impossible. There’s got to be more than one cello playing. Everything is so obfuscated. I can hear the man. I hear his heavy breaths, the thing. It’s pulsating, groaning in agony. I’m so sorry, I feel sorry but I’m scared. He’s looking at me. Shit, I feel sick. He won’t stop groaning. Shut up! Shut uuuup!

“Flights of starlings have a way of flying which is theirs alone and seems as governed by uniform and regular tactics as a disciplined regiment would be...From the particularly circulatory motions appropriate to each of its parts, and whose center, perpetually tending to expand but continually compressed, pushed back by the contrary stress of the surrounding lines baring upon it, is constantly denser than any of these lines, which are themselves the denser the nearer they are to the center.”

I ran from the thing, the monster, he was trying to get up. I can’t breath properly. Starlings. They’re mocking me, circling around and around. I can hear them. Get away! Fuck, get away. I’m getting dizzy. The pages, these lines are mixing in with the music. My mouth is dry. It will not stop.

“I know all about age from the physiognomical lines of the forehead...the muscular movements in wounds in the soft parts of the lower cervical region...that perpetual rat-trap always reset by the trapped animal...and above all, as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!”

I can’t stop screaming in my head.

After my room reverts back to silence I can hardly fathom that the nervous, neurotic, anticipatory feeling that I’m left with is due to the manipulation of a cello. Of course reading the cryptically presented source material in the liner notes helped, but this music could have done the same without it. That alone is the single greatest evidence of a successful interpretive work; Maldoror is a significant success, with or without the available prose. I couldn't approximate the sounds on this disc if I had all the time in the world and access to anything in a studio (including a cello). Friedlander exhibits a masterful control over his instrument that few other artists can claim to possess. There are many moments throughout Maldoror where the music, it’s structure, is unbelievable, but the most telling sign of Friedlander’s talent is in his restraint. Where others may have hastily banged out a self aware interpretation, Friedlander’s notes dance above a deep dark void, and some of the most chilling moments are when he let’s you hear the nothingness down below.

You would think this to be esoteric music but Maldoror exhibits a universally profound terror. Like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive this disc slowly propels you into the surreal, trapping you in a world where the burden of consciousness is the most antagonizing thing of all.

- Andrew Iliadis

/feb 15th 2005/