Swiss Christoph Hess uses 5 turntables, without any vinyl disc, as sound source, creating a rhythmic, nervous and powerful soundscape



..strotter inst.:: live act at oblo We’ve said it a million times, but it bears repeating, we love turntables, and scratchy records, and the sounds of both, we even (especially) love the sound of both with the music removed. Or at least most of the music removed. Fuzz and crackle and buzz and pop and warble and whir. All the sounds people try desperately to remove from their listening experience is exactly what we want piled on top of ours. In fact, all the crackle and surface noise that audio nerds discard, well, they should save it all up and bequeath it to us to sprinkle, dollop, pour, douse all of our music with. So it was really a no brainer that the debut cd from Strotter Inst. would be record of the week here at AQ (as it was just a few weeks ago). Strotter is the work of one man, Swiss turntablist / sound artist Christoph Hess, who takes old turntables, augments them with various wires and elastic bands, pieces of metal and all sorts of found objects, and then creates gorgeously Spartan symphonies of rhythm and texture using just the turntable and the stylus, no records at all. No music. The turntable becomes an instrument capable of more than just playing other peoples’ music, it is a sound making device, an instrument as viable as any other. Although with a truly unique palette of sounds, reminiscent of some strange minimal electronica, albeit with a much more organic feel.This disc captures a performance recorded live to minidisc at Oblo Cinema in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April of 2005. And is a gloriously hypnotic soundscape of glitchy beats, warm textural drones and strange low end strums, all locked into hypnotic loops, that slowly shift and drift in and out of sync as more turntables join the fray, or as the speeds of the turntables change, or as various implements shift. The set begins with a lush drone, difficult to imagine how it’s produced, but it is warm and deep and quite organic sounding. Soon the sound of the reverberating bands are introduced, sounding a lot like some muted guitar, playing a simple low end figure, the notes coming faster and faster until the whole thing stumbles into a shambolic rhythm, a loping lurch, with occasional bursts of needle squelch, eventually settling into a dreamy motorik groove. The set seesaws back and forth between strange machinelike rhythms and stretches of drone and rumble. Right toward the end there is a burst of super distorted NOISE which slowly gives way to the final rhythmic groove, that slowly winds down, notes drifting off until all that is left is a single mechanical pulse. So nice.Comes packaged in a cool cardstock sleeve with a little diecut circle perfectly above the hole in the center of the cd. More nods to the record and its design. The picture of Christoph Hess on the inside of the booklet looks like some old faded textbook photo of Einstein Or Edison, hunched over his machines, modified turntables in this case, a study of a quirky inventor, Strotter as the sound of antiquated machinery, of objects reassigned to new tasks, the tireless pursuit of technology recontextualization, only adding to the whole vibe of Hess’ music being some recently unearthed or discovered scratchy, crackly sonic artifact.

The Wire

Strotter Inst.
live act at oblo
excellent turntablism (of the marclay/jeck school rather than the Invisibl Scratch Piklz variety) by Swiss boffin Christoph Hess, producer of the palindromic single Anna (whose tracks played in opposite direction and met in the middle). On this dociment of a live show in Lausanne, he takes a diferent approach. Like Otomo yoshihide (and, lest we forget Richard James) before him, he dispenses with vinyl altogether and exploits the mechanical properties of his array of decks rather than using them as playback tools. the variety of sounds and rhythms he produces is remarkable. alongside the expected static pops and smears of smeary noise, moving in and out of sync in delightful steve reichian fashion, there are further preparations involving (i think) the bowing of strings by the spinning turntables themselves, a feature that recurs at intervals to provide the set with a satisfyingly episodic narrative. Indeed, Hess’ deftpacing of his necessarily limited sound palette is whatsets this apart