The work of Christian Fennesz has featured in my listening since the late nineties. As part of the superbly inventive releases on his hometown Vienna’s staggeringly good label Mego (or Editions Mego as its now called), he was always another innovator in that gang to watch. The melding of guitar with blistering corroded electronics, snatches of melody and blocks of digital scree chopped and stewed in the same pot to create hugely textured, richly detailed 3-dimensional music.
Albums like Endless Summer and Besc are two completely essential works in his small solo discography. His famous Plays 7” approximates The Rolling Stones Paint It Black and The Beach Boys Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) are more like tracings than cover versions.
In a way, I’d lost a little impetuous to jump on some of his more recent releases but this year’s Agora had somehow piqued my stupid brain fog. In the initial chatter around the release, the main story seems be that this record is a return to far simpler means and was made at home with his laptop, guitar and headphones. It also appears that whilst these new tracks all have a stunning speaker rippling quality, on the headphone listen, this is as immersive. as it is stunning.
Wolfgang Voight’s entire GAS project zoomed in on how huge almost orchestral arcs interweave through a ghostly grid of rhythm. Whilst on the surface, Fennesz plays a similar trick, it’s easy to imagine these 4 elongated tracks like a sonic version of Naum Gabo’s sculptures. Huge swelling pillows of sound generators contoured by, and a looping current of place markers. Sounds reaching out and expanding whilst growing tiny little scaffolding elements to support the branches. This is no linear journey but an organic growth.
With Agora, Fennesz explained the music was made at home on headphones, sitting with his guitar and software. You get a sense his neighbours probably were oblivious as he quietly and thoughtfully gathered together this vast welcoming ecosystem of sweeping gloriousness at the kitchen table. Whatever magic glues Agora together, and despite its relative youthfulness – it’s an album to get superbly lost in, time and time again…
Go deep into Agora here