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RETRO: Germany's zeitkratzer Transcribe, Transform Lou Reed's 'Metal Machine Music'

By Logan K. Young l.young@classicalite.com on Mar 24, 2016 12:24 AM EDT

It only makes sense that the land that brought us both Bach and Beethoven and Holger Czukay and Irmin Schmidt would be the first to even think about transcribing Lou Reed's 1975 hocus pocus opus.

Back in March of 2002, saxophonist Ulrich Krieger and accordion player Lucca Venitucci had their 34-page, through-composed score performed by forward-thinking Teutons zeitkratzer at the venerable Maerzmusik, Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

The Coney Island baby, himself, was in attendance that night; and with guitar in hand, he joined the rest of the strings, winds and percussion for the last 16 minutes of, quote the late Mr. Reed, "LaMonte Young [sic] drones."

As I, myself, duly pointed out for Jason Gross and Perfect Sound Forever:

"And yet, like a true champ, Reed's RCA kiss-off refuses to go down at all. By now, it is part and parcel of our culture. Extolled 17 times over by Lester Bangs, sampled wholesale by Sonic Youth and even transcribed by Zeitkratzer, it will fall--if it goes down at all--at the hands of posterity as either the best or the worst thing Lewis Allan Reed has ever done."

Finally, after more than five years of only imagining, San Francisco label Asphodel released the results of that magical night on Saturday, September 1.

Like Phil Zampino's Squid's Ear notes: "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."

No matter what YOU think it sounds like, I bet it kicks the teeth in of that "Ensemble Modern plays Zappa" disc a few years back.

Either way, Bismarck must be beaming with pride.

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TagsZeitkratzer, Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed