'Above Buildings' CD

Janek Schaefer
Fat Cat Records FAT SP02
Buy Here!

.Play sample: Contraption: [with Real Audio]

Track Listing:
1. Forglen
2. Spindle Spider
3. Contraption
4. Thousand Camera Corona
5. Tone-arm Two
6. Indent Frame
7. Albarad
8. Light Over Las Vegas

Running time: 60:38
Released Oct 2000

CD Awarded 'Honorary Mention' at the Prix ARS Electronica competition, 2001.

Press Release

Having made his debut outing on FatCat at the end of 1998 (a Split Series 12" alongside Pan American), producer / turntablist Janek Schaefer has since gone on to release material on Diskono, K-RAA-K3 and Stock, Hausen & Walkman's Hot Air label. Having established a strong live reputation, other projects for Schaefer include collaborations with Robert Hampson (a CD under the monicker ‘Comae’ will appear soon on Mego-offshoot Rhiz), turntablists Phillip Jeck, Martin Tétreault. Whilst a full-length live CD was released on the Belgian K-RAA-K label, this release marks Schaefer's first studio release, and possibly his strongest work to date. Full of shimmering textures and sublime soundscaping, 'Above Buildings' is essentially an album produced through studio manipulations of field recordings and vinyl manipulations built up through live processing. The sound palette was sourced in England, France, Canada and the USA, and marks a move away from Janek's previous emphasis on his Tri-phonic Turntable.

'Forglen': composed from improvisations on an old family organ that Janek came across while visiting his father's relatives in Kitchiner, Canada. These recordings are then re-performed in the studio to produce a track which blisters with tonal sheets and break-ups.

'Spindle Spider': filters through from the debris that track one leave’s in its wake. Creating a calm space in between, it uses layers of cyclical textures born form the slow revolution of stuck grooves and electronic patinas.

'Contraption': is a short excursion into the realms of a brittle metallic space which resonates with inanimate activity and the presence of unseen actions.

'Thousand Camera Corona': Underlying this unfolding work is a real-time recording of the 1999 solar eclipse as unseen from the coast in France. A composition that slowly and inevitably grows in tension, drifting through a terrain of slowly pulsating frequencies and feedback to then gently disappear back into a bleached void.

'Tone-arm Two': Emerging from the corridors of Niagara Falls this track transforms into an aural investigation of the faulty connections and scrapings culled from the second tone-arm on Janek's schizophrenic Tri-phonic Turntable. Clusters of cracked connections dispersed around a lilting stuck groove melody which slips out of focus.

'Indent Frame': picks up the pace and tension through a rhythmical and elongated dissection of a prepared baby grand piano, contact miked during and after being moved, and before being re-tuned.

'Albarad’: Rekindling the trails of sounds left behind earlier in the album, Albarad takes us into an inner world of overlapping systems both fluid and mechanical. A claustrophobic chasm set before the gaping electric onslaught that follows.

'Light Over Las Vegas': Springing from the shadows, the essential elements of Las Vegas are brought to bear upon each other. Fizzing streetlights emerge and multiply drifting across a soundscape of the relentless slot machines below. Building into a climactic force, these textures surge ahead, eventually thinning down to slowly reveal an unwinding series of faltering vinyl notes. The album then concludes with a period of silence – allowing the re-emergence of your own immediate environment before the CD comes to rest….

 

Reviews

Friend of the devil website UK
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Janek Schaefer's ability to process source material is second to none. Reading about him, and listening to his electronic music you get the feeling that much of his work is derived from accident: stumbling across odd instruments, taking field recordings on the spur of the moment, improvising a recording made with damaged equipment, even a sound recording of the 1999 Eclipse (!). It suggests that there can never be a definable Janek Schaefer piece created from within, because the external options presented to him are infinite. Whatever is on this album would probably not be heard if circumstances differed ever so slightly. So 'Above Buildings' is a fine snap shot in an instant of time. That's the essence of Janek Schaefer. The opener, 'Foreign' is improvisation derived from an old family organ. The final result- a drone piece- sets up a certain mood for the rest of the album, that is gentle washes of sound, speckled by noise and full bodied drone brushstrokes. The sombreness does lift you above building’s as subsequent levitation becomes heady space flight. It's a calming album, that throws up many textures on many layers so your response will be as infinite as Janek's creative processes, but just don't think that this is the only kind of thing he does. Surprise us again, mate. 8/10


Other Music Reviews NYC
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Schaefer's last record used his imaginatively conceived and constructed mutant, three-arm turntable. But here he eschews the construction glee for a piece of fascinating textural density. Manipulating field recordings (okay, and some vinyl), this work, in eight parts spread over an hour, is like the sound _in between_all the sounds we consciously hear, only amplified and messed with. Dominating the proceedings are sequences of ephemeral,
almost three-dimensional rustic, spastic buzzings -- the flaws in every fluorescent tube you've ever heard cracking and humming. He works on a massive scale, filling even the tiniest of speakers with drones and malfunctions, rushing water, raging electrical arcs. Once in a while a conscious sound penetrates the torrents, a close-miked piano wire making like a church bell, or overtones of slot machines. Ambitious, revealing, and terribly, abstractly impressive. [Robin Edgerton]


Forced Exposure USA
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Janek Schaefer returns with his first studio release. Full of shimmering textures and sublime soundscaping, Above Buildings is essentially an album produced through studio manipulations of field recordings and vinyl manipulations built up through live processing. The sound palette was sourced in England, France, Canada, and the US, and marks a move away from Janek's previous emphasis on his Tri-Phonic turntable.
The songs are based on a family's rec-room organ, a faulty tone-arm connection, a Las Vegas night, (including the sizzle of neon and the arcade effects of slot machines), the contact-miked deliverance of an un-tuned baby grand, a corridor of Niagra Falls, and (incredibly) a real-time recording of the solar eclipse of 1999; in turns expanding on the familiarity of everyday life and bringing the enormous, infinite universe down to whisper a secret in your ear. A cinematic-like venture that evolves and climaxes, then concludes with a moment of silence, Above Buildings is a remarkable experience for the adventurous listener.

 

The Guardian, ‘On the edge’ CD of the week 22nd December 00
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There are times when you can make out the sonic equivalent of cloud patterns: when a backdrop of background noises reveals itself as a little symphony. You might find this in birdsong, the sea, or the way a distant bulk photocopier seems to play a South African folksong. Or even in the rattles and humming chords of a suburban railway suspended between stations.
The abstract, slow moving soundscapes of Janek Schaefer work a little like this: tracks such as Thousand Island Corona sound more like intuitive discoveries than preconceived compositions. At times, they could be the soundtrack to some unnameable cinematic horror or psychological trauma. Titles such as Spindle Spider and Tone-arm Two hint at Schaefer’s roots as a turtablist - he uses a custom built contraption with three tone-arms to make several strands of sound from the same piece of vinyl.
Working with wonky turntables may have given Schaefer a liking for the non-rhythmic, repetitive cycling of grainy sounds here. The sound spectrum is surprisingly limited, but Above Buildings tells some truths about the modern world, in all its drab banality and occasional beauty. Other recent adventures by Schaefer, who studied architecture at the RCA, include Wow, a limited-edition seven-inch single pressed off centre on the disk, and a forth coming collaboration with his great hero Philip Jeck. ***

 

Stylus [Canada]
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I put Janek Schaefer’s new cd, "Above Buildings" into the player as I'm working around the house. Shortly into the first track, "forglen," an appliance in the kitchen beeps softly and I'm struck by how wonderful the two sound together. I pause hoping for another chance meeting and mixing of sounds. This music makes me think about the sounds around me. I immediately plan to listen to it on my walk to work taking the route that makes me pass that noisy streetlight. Usually a nuisance, maybe tomorrow it will sound like it was meant to be in the mix and somehow Schaefer missed it.
Schaefer studied architecture at London's Royal College of Art and it is in the notions of "location" that we can hear a lot of the ideas at work on this release. His interest in site specificity, locale, and acoustic space pronounce themselves - usually gently, sometimes urgently - as in light over las vegas, an aural snapshot of the city and its buzz and howl of a million lights snapping to life.
Using "source sounds recorded in England, France, Canada and America," Schaefer creates compositions that are open and warm and full of shifting swathes of static and hum. Schaefers music is lush and gorgeous. While this may all too often get relegated to the glitch set, its a shame that others may not hear it. It seems anyone who feels the warmth and urgency of a My Bloody Valentine or Ride may want to give this a go and wind it up
to 10. Or point5. This music sounds equally interesting at high or low volumes. While there are eight tracks on "Above Buildings", I find myself not realizing when or where one begins and another ends. It doesnt really matter though, the CD player's on repeat. [Steve Bates]

 

Paris Transatlantic [France]
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After a live CD on K-RAA-K and a split 12” on FatCat in 1998, “Above Buildings” is Janek Schaefer’s first full-length studio work, in which the architect-turned-musician puts aside his Tri-phonic turntable (a triple-armed monster allowing a vinyl to be manipulated in a bewildering number of ways) in favor of some painstaking old-fashioned studio time. His source sounds are diverse, ranging from cranky old organs to Vegas slot machines and electrical storms and solar eclipses, but if I didn’t tell you that you’d probably never guess (I only learnt it from the Press Release): these field recordings are lovingly transformed into expansive and colorful musical landscapes, austere at times but utterly compelling. (Next time I drive across central Nevada, this is going in the car stereo.) Unlike much contemporary electronica, which tends to sprawl aimlessly across seventy-minute CDs as if the mere novelty of its sound could ever compensate for lack of a strong sense of structure (it can’t), Schaefer really knows how to handle large-scale form - that’s what comes from studying architecture. “Above Buildings” is strong, satisfying and sensual work from someone we’ll be hearing more of in years to come. Dan Warburton

Uzine webzine Holland
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Delightful! And how beautifully does the final track blend back in with the sounds in your house indeed! Musically, this most certainly is Mr. Schaefer's most mature release yet, although his triple-armed-turntable antics were of course very heart-warming as well (cf. elsewhere on our Ultra site). This eight-tracker, on the other hand, certainly sounds more freezing than warming, but then again aluminium and the atlantic were more likely bound to meet on record than on the Aran islands, or the Acores... Lest I spoil your fun, however, quickly think "Mzui (UK)" era Dome, and a lot of it; add some "Shivering Man" era Bruce Gilbert ; stir with frozen Eno ; have it mixed by a Pierre Henry dreaming of doing the Eraserhead soundtrack ; and top it off with a dash of Kubrick's 2001 time travelling through a field replete with crickets that were handicapped by the Gumbo boys. Or just stick to your first image: Janek in the sky with diamonds, reinventing his kitchen. (And if you still need convincing: have the Fat Cat people e-mail you the press release text: it's beautifully written. Or get to know Bruce Gilbert urgently.) (pv)

 

Aquarius Records USA
Janek Schaefer worked extensively as an architect before shifting his aesthetic focus to sound design — specifically, vinyl manipulation with modified turntables. On this recording, he incorporates field recordings into his signature magnification of slow turntablist actions, and uitilises much more digital production than his previous work, creating an exceptional album of drones, but full of eccentric details that remind us of Stilluppsteyppa. ‘Above Buildings’ invokes Schaefer’s architectural fascination not only through the title, but with his compositional strategies as well, musically defining the space of a claustrophobic closet or a majestic open hall. Attention to detail keeps this record interesting, with surface noise being processed to sound like sizzling bacon fat and sawtooth distortion waves cajoled to release subtle melodies. Janek’s digitised grey drones ebb and flow as if they were the somatic rhythm of some living architectural entity. Nice!.

 

The Wire Nov 2000
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"Above Buildings", Schaefer’s new album for Fat Cat, is an altogether more leisurely exploration of his aural Op Art. Throughout, his music brings hidden colours flowering forth out of apparently monochrome waves. These spectral, shivering pieces layer phased and irregular frequencies, punctuated from time to time by immanent clunks and clicks, whose origins remain obscure even as their jagged edges and crumbling boundaries bring to mind the awkwardness of tape dropouts and chipped styluses. Schaefer combines his sources in shifting, gided nebulae, whose organic progress often manages to transcend the greyscale austerity of the original material . In his hands, the sudden entrance of high pitched tape chatter ["Spindle Spider"] takes on the evanescent magic of birdsong. Which is not to say that "Above Buildings" is a pastoral experience exactly. Schaefer’s boffinish concern with the effects that extremes of sustain, decay, and distortion have on soundwaves, and the harmonics they throw off produces a bracing aridity.

 

Scaruffi Italian web site [Auto-translation from Italian - doesn’t always make sense!]
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Janek Schaefer is a rising star of new European music electronic, to the level of Marcus Popp, Fennesz and Pita. One remembers the split 12 " recorded in 1998 with Pan American for Fat Cat, and the collaborations with Robert Hampson and other material escapes on Diskono, Hot Air and K-RAA-K3. Schaefer is in the first place a "not musician", he is therefore essentially a manipulator of sounds and an expert in the techniques of digital recording. "Above Buildings" is its first album that very reassumes aesthetic the musical one of this young talent. Right from the first minute of I listen denotes an amazing cultural preparation care the present history and last of music electronic and the enunciation series and to austere are perhaps end too much. " Forglen " puts in evidence clear Oval infuences of first period (piu' or less " 94 Diskont ") and seems nearly a case isolated regarding the rest. " Spindle Spider ", " Tonearm Two " and " Indent Frame " risentono of all the passages experiences of the historical electro-acustica (Eimert, Berio, Xenakis, Ninth) and constitute the sorpendente aspect piu' in a young person like Schaefer. " Thousand Camera Corona " and " Albarad " who is austeri poemi seriali to apparently immovable sonorous bands (has Clement present the "Informel " of and " Atmospheres " of Ligeti, capira') and is probably the better compositions of the disc. To close the album we find an other dared partitura, " Light Over Las Vegas ", realized in one style much similar to that one of Pita of " Seven Tons For Free ". Altogether the judgment is positive, even if Schaefer should try to shake himself of back that excessive austerity (or coldness). (7/10)

 

Chronicart.com France
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"Forglen" is the first track on the first album from the studio of Janek Schaefer (whose recordings of live performances came out on the K>RAA>K3 label), and is strangely reminiscent of some of the first album from the Austrian laptop composer, Christian Fennesz (Hotel Paral.lel, which came out in 1997). If these two men have ever played or improvised together, however, their respective domains are essentially at opposite poles of the spectrum: Fennesz works on his portable laptop with the most recent generation of computer wizardry, while at the other extreme Janek Schaefer (rather like the pioneer of "musique concrete" whose name Schaefer's closely resembles ) prefers invention - a departure from electronica's norm - as evidenced by the invention that made his name and reputation, the three-armed, bi-directional, multi-speed "tri-phonic turn-table". The artistic resemblance of the two artists is striking: the same use of field recordings both as punctuation (crackles, breaks, clicks) as well as artistic substance, the same breaking down and reconstruction of sound and resulting music. The fact that their respective sound universes are so close, while the technical means they employ are so different, shows how the means can be of mere secondary importance, even in a domain of music whose very essence is founded largely in exploration and discussion of the means itself.
Schaefer is to be distinguished quite radically from some other turntabilists (from Christian Marclay to Martin Tetreault or Otomo Yoshihide) as regards the means, in that for him of foremost importance is the music itself rather than the medium:one is reminded of the French Erik M, and above all of Philip Jeck, whose very visual musical universe is closest to that of Schaefer. Schaefer seems to hold dear the semantic and cultural aspects of the sound sources he employs (an old family organ including the traces of the recording process, the faulty arm of a turn-table...). Schaefer creates long, calm expanses which are visually and emotionally evocative, and of great sensitivity and fragility. Taken altogether, the whole emotive sound universe of this work comes across as both very held together and very personal, and of an integrity which is far from facile cliches, culminating in the very beautiful "Tonearm two" (the most beautiful track on the disc, without a doubt), and showing again how truly moving and satisfying honest experimental music can be when it is the expressed statement of a sincere artistic movement. (Author: Olivier Lamm. Translated from the French original by MMM) [Olivier Lamm] ****

 

Pitchfork Media web site USA
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Why would anyone want to listen to noise? One theory is that songs with words and more "musical" kinds of music are meant to convey a certain feeling through an agreed-upon language, while noise music is meant to replicate the sound of consciousness itself. That's how I like to approach albums like Above Buildings. These drones, scrapes and hisses are what happens in my head on a particularly bad day, and there's something reassuring in having it out there, encoded on a 5" aluminum disc, where I can reach it when I want it.
Janek Schaefer makes his living as an architect, and his recorded work has a serious conceptual bent. An earlier piece called "Recorded Delivery" consisted of sounds recorded by a mini-cassette as it traveled through the postage system. Live, Schaefer performs with a three-armed turntable with wires connected all screwy, so he gets strange phasing effects coming through the amplifiers. Above Buildings, his first full-length, is, on the surface, more "straight." This is billed as a record of "field recordings" that have been manipulated in the studio and blended with choice textures from Schaefer's three-armed bandit.
I must say, though, I don't ever want to spend a night in the field where these recordings were made. About 70% of Above Buildings is dark, sinister drone music of the most engaging order. It's cinematic, yes, but far too daring for most directors to take a chance on. Schaefer has a fondness for scrapes, brushes, static and friction, not unlike other Central European artists like Oval and Fennesz. Layers of this itchy stuff are piled upon the processed sounds of breathing concrete and single church belltones that last forever.
Initially, the most striking thing about Above Buildings is the brilliant use of dynamics. In order to properly hear the faint but important details, you'll need to turn your stereo's volume knob to an anxiety-producing level. And eventually, this extreme setting will come back to haunt you, as Schaefer's imposing machinery comes crashing down in a noisy heap. You cannot listen to this music and do something that requires concentration.
But what really makes Above Buildings great is the variety of the sounds and artfulness of their arrangement. Though Schaefer's mostly working with drones, scrapes and assorted odd tones, he's capable of making something that strikes me as "happy." The opening track, "Forglen," is what it sounds like inside the mind of someone who's coming up on amphetamines, at the point of euphoria, just before thoughts of bad side effects kick in. (Well, kind of happy.) The track resembles a laptop mutation of the drones of My Bloody Valentine, but these warmer hues only pop out of the bleak canvas occasionally. This contrast makes for an absorbing whole, and one that comes highly recommended to admirers of pure sound.

 

Jean from Bristol [a French friend]
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I've been spending my last week-end listening to your new release...It was a really strong experience, I first felt like I was going inside my body and after I felt like my soul was leaving my body to fly away high in the sky and at the end I could see what was going on "above buildings".. Congratulations Janek, you broke the rules and this new LP is very innovative, it's really minimal and it's like if everything is at its right place, sometimes really light, sometimes dark and heavy.. Yes Janek you did something new and you're not a turntablist, you showed that you've got loads of new ideas and i can't wait to be surprised again and again, your music makes me feel in a way that not many records do, only "the culling is coming" (23 skidoo) and the "ambient works 2" of Aphex Twin make me feel that way...It's really hard to explain why because it's about the way i feel when i listen to them, i think it's really spiritual, probably a way to make me feel closer to some people that i lost several years ago...(my dad for example) I believe in spirits and i strongly feel some invisible presences sometimes...

 

Small Fish Records

SECOND IN THE NEW "SPLINTER SERIES" FROM THE CATS... ...FEATURING A FULL LENGTH DEBUT FROM JANEK - YOU REALLY NEED TO TAKE TIME & CHECK THIS OUT - LAYER UPON LAYER OF SOUND & SPACE TO GIVE YOU TIME TO DEVELOP --- ABRASIVE OR NOT SO... THIS IS CUTTING EDGE 

 

Gonzo Circus Peter Wullen, Belgium
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Binnenhuisarchitect Janek Schaefer stak ooit een op stemmen reagerende
taperecorder in een omslag, stuurde de envelope op naar een kunstgalerie en perste een vinylplaatje van de tijdens het traject van het postpakketje opgenomen gesprekken en geluiden. Het spraakmakende project heette 'Recorded Delivery' en werd uitgebracht door Hot Air. Schaefer is tevens de uitvinder van de Tri-Phonic Turntable, een platendraaier met drie toonarmen die in alle richtingen en op verschillende snelheden vinylplaten kan afspelen. In '98 bracht hij een ophefmakende debuutplaat uit op Fat Cat (een Split Series 12" met Pan American). Halfweg '99 kwam er een live cd uit op het Gentse (K-RAA-K)" label. De liveopnames van 'Out' werden gecapteerd tijdens een Fat Cat event in Hasselt alwaar hij een erg gesmaakte performance met zijn Tri-Phonic Turntable ten beste gaf. Sexy Schaefer heeft in een jaar tijd een ganse weg afgelegd. Hij werkte onder meer samen met Martin Tétreault, met Philip Jeck en met Christian Fennesz. Na een korte tournee door de VS (met Robert Hampson als Comae) brengt hij op korte tijd zowaar twee cd's uit plus een vinylsingle. Binnenkort verschijnt de debuut-cd van Comae, een duoproject met Robert Hampson (Loop, Main, Chasm, etc.) op Rhiz, een zusterlabel van het Oostenrijkse experimentele Mego-label. In afwachting is 'Above Buildings' het echte studiodebuut van Schaefer. 'Above Buildings' bevat een achttal bevreemdende, sonische exploraties op basis van opnames in Canada, Engeland, Frankrijk en de VS. Schaefer maakt zich hier los van zijn associatie met de Tri-Phonic Turntable en toont dat hij wel wat meer in zijn vingers heeft dan manipulaties met dat bizarre instrument. 'Above Buildings' heeft zijn titel niet gestolen. Luisteren naar 'Above Buildings' lijkt op het op lage hoogte scheren boven de gebouwen van een grootstad terwijl het leven onder je zijn gang gaat. 'Above Buildings' is uitermate geschikt voor het beluisteren met de koptelefoon in een stille, donkere kamer. Zeer pakkend zijn 'Thousand Camera Corona', opgenomen aan de Franse kust tijdens de zonsverduistering van '99, en 'Light over Las Vegas', een auditieve impressie van gonzend, elektrisch neonlicht en ratelende gokmachines. Een ander affaire is 'Wow', een 7" verdeeld door Diskono. De twee zijden van de single bevatten exact dezelfde opname maar één kant is opzettelijk niet helemaal centraal geperst. Doordat het gat niet in het midden zit, krijg je een oscillerend 'woooowww' effect... Diskono moedigt op haar website iedereen aan om een 'Physical Remix' te maken van het plaatje.

 

Vital Staalplaat email list, Holland
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Janek Schaefer is back were he started his career, but now with a full length CD. Schaefer is a hip turntablist, using a record player with three arms. Much of his previous works were captations of live work, but this CD sees him working in the studio. That's a good thing, since, to put it blunt, I'm not particular fond of DJ material on CD, no matter how many tone arms they use. Schaefer uses here, I guess, primarily source material recorded by himself, like an old family organ, prepared baby grand piano as well as found sounds and feedback. He creates subtle peices, that are either too short or a bit lengthy. The tension is a piece like 'Thousand Camera Corona' can almost be felt and there is ok at its 13 some minutes. The droning opener 'Forglen' could have been twice as long as far as I'm concerned. The sounds are carefully chosen and placed neatly in intense tracks. A slow version of musique concréte, should this mean anything. More studio time for herr Schaefer please!


Sami Sänpäkkilä [Finland]
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At first listen the album sounds very disoriented. It took a few times of listening to get the overall picture of the album. It also took a while to realise that you should listen to the album quite loudly. I tried to listen to it at night in bed. For me that didn't work. I think there's no compression whatsoever on the album and while the loud parts were really loud I couldn't hear the quiet parts. But of course there is a reason (if not meant by Schaefer, a reason for me at least) that the album is not compressed: I had to turn the volume up. Ok, so I sat on the bed the next day and watched the traffic and buildings through the window while listening. I don't know is it because of the fact that I've read that Schaefer's an architecht and his music has been characterized as being architectural but the music was really giving me the feeling of being inside buildings, under buildings, below buildings and above buildings.
For example "Thousand camera corona" leads you above the buildings in your mind. You're watching down at the buildings and you can hear children playing on the streets. There is a screeching sound that appears in a slow curve. At about eight minutes a steadier beautiful loop comes and really gives the track an epic feeling. I find this track very melancholic and beautiful.
The sounds that Janek Schaefer uses are very steely and cold at times. The effects are not used in a proclaiming way, they fit the soundscape very well and are all in their place. Maybe the recording has been done using natural effects of buildings. The music is very technological music. There's very little human touch in the sounds. Inspite of this the record has a definite warm feeling on it and it really gives you something for your heart. At any point the sounds are not even near industrial. There is something cold and something warm but no matter how I try I can't explain where either really is.
The question that do you need to understand this kind of music has the same answer as always. You don't have to understand it to listen to it, but you have to listen to it to enjoy it.

 

Freq [UK web zine]
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Janek Schaefer is more interested it seems in texture than specific sounds, though each of the eight pieces on Above Buildings has distinct source material as its basis, sometimes the preferred mode of listening is switching off and stepping inside the soundscape. Derived from fizzing lamp fittings to old organs, needles and grooves, Niagra Falls to grand pianos via the 1999 Solar Eclipse, malfunctioning tone-arms and the internal noises of digital sampling disappearing up its own fundament, the shifting sonic landscape reaches an attenuated blissout at times, sucking in the outside world and engaging through the identifiable and the refracted sounds alike.
Ideal for headphone listening, Above Buildings shifts angles and sweeps in and out of close-up on any particular, particulate, sound; and the cinematic similie is appropriate, as this is highly visual music. It is very difficult not to build storyboards to accompany the placement of sounds across the stereo spectrum, and the results are diffuse, sometimes tensely dramatic, frequently obscured by layers of fractured mini-rhythms, swarms and swathes of processed, invasive noise, and highlighted by silence


Octopus France, Christophe Taupin
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After "Out", issued last year by K-raa-k3 which gathered performances recorded in Belgium, scotland and Germany, "Above Buildings" is the first real [studio] album by Janek Schaefer. Here, the young architect gives up his triphonic turntable, a record player which can read three parts of the same record at the same time, affecting them differently; this lethal weapon meant that Schaefer has been compared to, and also collaborated with Philip Jeck.
On Above Buildings, Schaefer builds up dense soundscapes from environmental recordings made in England, France, Canada and USA. He uses these sounds as source material that he shapes and combines in the studio. "Forglen’s" beginning reminds me of the organic textures of "Hertz" by Main.
The interest of Schaefer’s works lies in the choice and interactions of sounds. The mixing of sounds create a "wide sound universe" which is fully explored. "Thousand Camera Corona" uses a recording made [during shade!] of the 1999 eclipse, in parallel with this aesthetic Schaefer builds a heavy sound tension growing in a feedback effect. "Indent frame" is a recording made with a contact mic in several places, and at several recording levels, inside a prepared piano; the result evokes the most minimal Hafler Trio. "Light Over Las Vegas" brilliantly concludes the album. It mixes microscopic and macroscopic sounds, makes them grow, while working on their textures to create a sound dramatisation of an incredible intensity. This little wonder of electro-acoustic music is probably the beginning of a series of works from which we can expect great things, since Schaefer is to collaborate with Robert Hampson and Christian Fennesz. Keep an ear on the work of this young "sound designer" whose work appears essential.

 

Dissonance Italy, Leonardo Di Maio
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In the first days of the year as soon as begun the record debut has seen the light on Fat Cat of the young electronic musician Janek Schaefer. " Above Buildings " is a quality, inventiveness and job great pregio, these, than difettano to many discs of new-electronica (sees the last little convincing tests of Pan Sonic, Ryoji Ikeda, Famous, Bernhard Gunter, Steve Roden). Schaefer res-establish itself above all to the great European elettroacustica tradition of years Fifty, with a particular attention to iconoclasti the experiments of Xenakis, Luigi Ninth and Vittorio Gelmetti. The author makes resorted to whichever trick from recording room in order to create these eight poemi elettroacustici (" fields recordings " riprocessati in study, accurate manipulations of sounds and noises, quite a plate to three braccetti). The digital minimalismo of " Forglen " and " Contraption " immediately makes to think next to the electronics stratospheric of Oval and Fennesz. The complex sonorous texture of " Thousand Room Crown " develop between dark dissonances and cageani intervals. " Indent Frame " and " Albarad " prepare the road for the extraordinary nebula " Light Over Las Vegas ", made of growing electronic and fadings noise, one the composition worthiest to appear on the album " Seven Tons For Free " of Pita. Hour is only hoped of being able to see Schaefer to the work also in Italy, even in one future edition of " Dissonances ".


Pittsburgh Press USA, Nikki Trader
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Music may be powerful in many ways, but it’s not often that a record can break beyond the speakers and take on a life of it’s own. This is exactly what the music of Janek Schaefer does: Within a minute or two of pressing the play button, a listner can’t help but feel as though there’s someone in the room with them. The effect is rather creepy and hard to ignore, like a cold draft tickling your ankles when there are no cracks in the wall. The term ‘song’ doesn’t quite fit the peculiar witchery Schaefer produces on his slew of recording equipment. ‘Sound Collage’ is much more appropriate. The effect ranges from the tension-building compositions [the kind frequently found in movie soundtracks] to a quirky British version of Halloween sound effects designed to spook trick-or-treaters. His music sounds like the soundtrack to a movie never made. There’s some sort of action that should accompany what you’re hearing, but the screen remains eerily blank. One can hear everything from an old family organ to the corridors of Niagra Falls in Schaefer’s slew of compositions.

 

Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank: 32,253 !!! yippeeee [March 2002] and then 7,191 !!![December 03]

 

ARS Electronica Digital Musics award: 2001

Golden Nica
Ryoji Ikeda (Japan): "Matrix"

Distinctions
Markus Popp / Oval (Germany): "ovalprocess/ovalcommers"
Blectum from Blechdom (USA): "The Messy Jesse Fiesta"

Honorary Mentions
Janek Schaefer (UK): "Above Buildings"
Pansonic (SF): "Aaltopiiri"
Orm Finnendahl (D): "Kommen & Gehen"
Lucky Kitchen (E): "Haunted Folklore one/Ruinas Encantadas"
Ted Apel (USA): "Potential Difference"
John Hudak (USA): "Highway"
kid606 (USA): "Down with the scene"
Richard Chartier (USA): "Series"
Tigerbeat6 (USA): "Attitude"
Louis Dufort (CDN): "Decap"
J Lesser (USA): "Gearhound"
Mille Plateaux (D): "Clicks + Cuts 2"