Album: Wiener Process
Author: Christopher Nosnibor
Yes, you read that correctly. A 24 CD Box Set. Conceivably, not since Throbbing Gristle’s ‘24 Hours’ legendary cassette box set has there been a project of this magnitude or perversity (although Kenji Siratori’s 12-CD ‘Merzbomb’ is certainly a contender).
There’s method behind the apparent madness, of course: in 2010, Frank was diagnosed with tinnitus, which greatly disturbed his sleep. So he started to research a sound treatment that would mask or eliminate the high frequencies he was doomed to hear for the rest of his life.
The story goes that after 4 years of experimentation Frank failed to find a cure for tinnitus, but discovered what he proposes as the “scientific method of psychostochastics” and a new conception of music: music that has no time. Statistically designed - so that listeners will not remember what was heard a few minutes ago and what they hear will be different upon each encounter - they enter into what he postulates as a “zone where there is no beginning nor end, no linear development but the laws of quantum mechanics”. To gain a new understanding of our perception of sound, time and uncertainty, he calls this the Wiener Process; as a nod to the mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener.
The press release explains that ‘seeded from a single algorithm, the Wiener Process unfolds in 24 distinct 1 hour “zones” or pieces. Each is nothing but a drawn-out instant of time, an ultra magnified moment of Planck time.’ Not to be confused with the fad from a couple of years ago where people would lie flat in incongruous places, Planck time truly does seem to be a law unto itself, and Rothkamm’s strange and ambitous project certainly demands a different approach to listening.
With each disc containing a single track an hour in duration, ‘Wiener Process’ is an exploration in (pink) noise and multi-tonal frequency, that ranges from the barely there to the barely containable. An eternity of hums and drones, slow oscillations and protracted periods of semi-silence, it isn’t music in any conventional sense: it isn’t even really ambient or ambient industrial, and sounds more like an empty rehearsal room with the amps left on or radios out of tuning than anything else. How on earth is one supposed to actually listen to this?
In truth, that’s not the purpose or primary function of this release. Uniquely, the project is designed for low-volume headphone listening, and to co-exist with any other music or sound environment, or to simply function as an auditory 24 hour clock. As such, while the limited edition CD box set in its sleek, minimalist perspex box may make for a more impressive-looking objet d’art and elicit a greater engagement on a tactile level, the download version, in offering the potential to be played full-cycle without breaks engenders an experience that is closer to Rothkamm’s core objectives. Leaving the audio to run while you go about your everyday activities may or may not have a particularly significant effect on your life experience, but it will likely have some small impact on how you feel over the course of your day.
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