Side R & Side W


The Rough & Wojtyla album Side R & Side W offers a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that recreates a monochromatic landscape. Drones are supported by tentative jazz drum beats, and just when you think you have found some stability in the listening, ruptures happen and multiply. In perfect harmony, the two musicians don't take themselves seriously; they saturate their sonic world with long abstruse silences, before returning more furiously into the barely hidden chaos. The listener is constantly pushed around, always looking for something to hang on to without ever finding it. But concretely, what might one find in the music? Maybe Walter Ruttman and his Weekend (1930)? Or maybe Albert Ayler? Some Stockhausen? When the fury of the sax swirls around the siren, it's a bit of Cluster taking a trip to the land of free-jazz that rips the thick veil of the oppressing yet liberating first part. Or this disco rocket, which for a very precise 15 seconds would have you believe that expectations might be met. But nothing that comes next resembles what has just crumbled. The duo is enjoying itself with this collage, this assembly of sonic decadence where nothing holds, not even the bearing walls. This structure is ready to crumble at any moment. The krautrock-inspired electro passages get entangled, but the experience of the two musicians prevents them from falling into the too obvious influence of Can's Tago Mago (1971). So what to do now? What is there to understand when the cellos cry on this fragment of post-rock without reference? The tapes are altered, sped up, it sways and it dances as if it's inside a schizophrenic brain that can't stop spinning. This record's 35 minutes will just hit you across the head. The music meanders constantly; funk, jazz, rock, all incorporated without an apparent link. The constant pace of ruptures leaves you almost dizzy. But this is not random, the whole is a serious abstract or cubic masterpiece you can't keep your eyes off of in fear of missing a nuance or a sound. And maybe that's it and nothing else: art. The capacity to take someone's gaze and direct it towards an incomprehensible evidence. Personnel: Robert G. Rough - electronics, field recordings, various other instruments; Karol Wojtyla - drums, saxophone. Recorded, mixed, and edited by Robert G. Rough. Edition of 200.