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zeitkratzer performing Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music

zkr0016 zeitratzer records CD, LP on Karlrecords (180g vinyl), LC 18747, EAN: 4250137262864
first full instrumental version performed live by zeitkratzer
recorded live by Klaus Dobbrick at Festival Romaeuropa, Palladium, Rome and at Festival Aperto, Teatro Cavallerizza, Reggio Emilia, Italy; mixed and mastered by Rashad Becker at dubplates & mastering Berlin, released 2014

zeitkratzer directed by Reinhold Friedl
Frank Gratkowski, clarinets | Matt Davis, trumpet | Hilary Jeffery, trombone | Reinhold Friedl, piano | Marc Weiser, guitar | Maurice de Martin, percussion | Burkhard Schlothauer, violin | Anton Lukoszevieze, violoncello | Uli Phillipp, double bass

About 10 years after their first, critically acclaimed performances of Lou Reed’s adventurous album, zeitkratzer presents an audacious new interpretation of this 20th century avant-garde classic. Here, for the first time ever, all four parts of Metal Machine Music played by zeitkratzer on one recording! Seriously "clangorous"! This new version of Metal Machine Music is even more transparent, instrumentally pure and radical than the shortened 2007 release; Live recordings from concerts in Rome and Reggio Emilia, Italy, mixed and mastered by Rashad Becker. A real sound experience!After their first performances in 2002 (documented on the 2007 CD release on Asphodel) Reinhold Friedl gave Reed’s album a new thorough listen and transcribed the sounds to create an acoustic score for the ensemble to play live. Those familiar with the oft-criticized two-disc album might wonder how they pulled this off, but they did and their interpretation of the work brought it to the attention of a wider audience. It is therefore partly thanks to the zeitkratzer version that Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music has been rediscovered as a classic of the Twentieth Century. It was at the live performance with zeitkratzer in Berlin, that Lou Reed spoke for the first time in public about the musical details of his composition, in an...  more

Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music may be the most misunderstood work ever created by a popular musician. The original two record set, released in 1975, was mostly noise - feedback squalls, amplifier hums and the tortured screech of electronic gadgets. The consensus at the time was that it was not music, but a protest by Reed to his then record label, RCA. People may not know that avant-garde musicians like John Cage, LaMonte Young, Iannis Xenakis and his Velvet Underground partner John Cale had a considerable influence on the way Reed approached composition, even his more accessible rock ‘n’ roll songs. Metal Machine Music was in some way a logical extension of atonal romps like Heroin and Sister Ray.

Today Metal Machine Music has become accepted by the avant-garde and highly regarded for its contribution to the free music movement in popular culture. The 9-member zeitkratzer group from Berlin gave Reed’s album a thorough listen and transcribed the sounds to create an acoustic music score for their ensemble to play live. Those familiar with the oft-criticized two-disc album might wonder how they pulled this off. zeitkratzer has the will and the musical ability to give the music the attention it deserves, having already collaborated with artists like Iannis Xenakis, Keiji Haino, Lee Ranaldo, Carsten Nicolai (alva noto) or Elliott Sharp.

Lou Reed said: “Let me give you a little background. Metal Machine Music was made over 30 years ago. In the year 2000, they re-released it with a new mastering job by Bob Ludwig and myself - the 25th anniversary of Metal Machine Music. It was taken off the market three weeks after it was released in '75 Still, time goes by and people get more used to what you call loops and electronics and noise and feedback. Okay? zeitkratzer’s Reinhold Friedl gets in touch with me, ‘Can we play Metal Machine Music live?’ I said, ‘It can't be done.’ He said, ‘We transcribed it. Let us send you a few minutes of it and you tell us.’ They sent it, I played it, and there it was. It was unbelievable. I said, ‘My God! Okay, go do it.’ So Metal Machine Music finally got performed live. It’s extraordinary, because all those years ago it was considered a career ender. And it almost was, believe you me.”

 “We thought Metal Machine Music was a very important piece, comparable with the contemporary music pieces of that time.” says Reinhold Friedl, zeitkratzer’s director. “It’s constructed in a very orchestral way, so we thought this music asks for a live instrumentation.” zeitkratzer was clearly ready for the challenges of performing Metal Machine Music live, and drew packed houses to their presentation of the work. It reinforced their assertion that “rock ’n’ roll as serious contemporary music has been ignored for too long, in too arrogant a way.”

Reed’s pronouncements on his most infamous opus have always been confusing, perhaps deliberately so, forcing listeners to come to their own interpretation about what they’re hearing. Of the original four-sided album he once quipped, “Anyone who gets to side four is dumber than I am.” On the other hand, he told rock critic Lester Bangs that he’d intentionally placed sonic allusions to classical works like Beethoven’s Eroica and Pastoral Symphonies into the mix. Whatever the truth is, there’s no denying the musicality (yes, the musicality) of zeitkratzer’s interpretation of the full four part version. With the nine musicians spread out over a large stage, the ear is free to wander into and around the music, picking out rhythms, overtones, hints of melody and other nuances that were largely submerged in Reed’s original all guitar and amp onslaught. 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.


zeitkratzer haben “Metal Machine Music” ihre Bedeutung zurückgegeben…
Spex, 9/2007

In all honesty, I can say that you've probably never seen or heard anything quite like this. Leave aside your preconceptions of what you think music should be, and take a step into the new and dangerous by listening to Metal Machine Music as performed by the zeitkratzer ensemble and Reed live. You might just be in for a surprise and find you appreciate something new and exciting.
BBC Music UK, 9/2007

Die bislang spektakulärste Einspielung des längst weltweit gefeierten Ensembles. .. Eine kongeniale Neuinterpretation, auch weil sich hier Provokateure von heute einer Provokation von damals verschreiben.
Die tageszeitung taz, Andreas Hartmann, 9/2007

Played by a live group, "Metal Machine Music" sounds even wilder and more frenetic, and Zeitkratzer's act of fandom - countless work-hours involved in transcribing and orchestrating - moves "Metal Machine Music" into a context where, perhaps, it always belonged: as an avant-garde piece of bristling minimalism rather than a rock musician's bizarre experiment.
New York Times, may 31, 2007

Fort. Trop fort.
RifRaf, Belgium, 10/2007

zeitkratzer’s version has drawn praise from both the high-brow New York Times and hip indie-music websites like Pitchfork. … In other words, it’s a very different way for the musically adventurous to take a walk on the wild side.
Deutsche Welle, Jefferson Chase, 12/2007

zeitkratzer inszenieren MMM wie ein Feuerwerk: es zischt, kracht, orgelt, das Schlagwerk knallt trocken wie ein dicker Kracher. … Man surft auf dieser Musik. Fünf Jahre haben die Live-Aufnahmen gebraucht, ehe sie veröffentlicht werden konnten. Aber was sind fünf Jahre angesichts einer Musik, die auf Ewigkeit und Grenzenlosigkeit hinaus will.
StadtRevue Köln, Felix Klopotek, 9/2007

an avant-garde classical ensemble named Zeitkratzer decided that they were going to do the impossible by transcribing the chaotic Machine in its entirety. As if that wasn’t enough, they then performed it in front of a live audience in a single take. So impressed with their accomplishment, Lou Reed gave Zeitkratzer two very special things: his blessing ... and a new guitar solo.
PopMatters, UK, Evan Sawdey,10/2007

… eine zur Komposition gewordene bekloppte Idee, realisiert und live umgesetzt, die in dieser Form vielleicht in den Kanon maßgeblischer zeitgenössischer Kompositionen des 20. bzw 21. Jahrhunderts eingehen wird.
Jazzthetik, D, 9/2007

Da öffnet sich „Metal Machine Music“ durch die zeitkratzer-Bearbeitung zur organischen Musikalität.
Skug, AT, Heinrich Deisl, 10/2007

Une relecture effectivement volcanique
Magic, F, Julian Welter, 10/2007

Eine kathartische Erfahrung!
Groove, 9/2007

zeitkratzer humanizes Reed’s machines — hilarious
Blender, UK, 8/2007

Ein Unterfangen so aberwitzig wie unterhaltend und belehrend. Die Neufassung ist so vielschichtig und tief, wie nur ein Orchester klingen kann. Man meint, mehr als zehn Musiker zu hören, angehörs des infernalisch schönen Klangs. Großartig – mindestens.
Trust, D, 10/2007

That Zeitkratzer could even conceive of transcribing Reed's original album in the first place almost defies belief. That they could take the score from there to a position where they could play it live is sheer genius.
musikOMH.com, UK, Jenni Cole, 9/2007

this performance is exceptional and delivers a most unsettling but ultimately worthwhile experience. Not for the many but for those prepared to work as hard as the performers to understand the music it is truly rewarding.
Music new.com, UK, 9/2007

most extreme example of noise rock
UK-Fusion, UK, Matthew Hirtes, 9/2007

Yes, this is the sound of MMM, the legendary first noise album, the litmus test by which all musical patience has been measured, performed live as a modern composition. It truly works! So, is this necessary? Do you still need to own it? YES. ABSOLUTELY. I would go so far as to say this should be the neophyte’s introduction to MMM; perhaps from there further tastes in noise and avant-garde music will develop.
Movement Music Reviews, US, Adam Naworal, 7/2007

The zeitkratzer disc rightfully restores the focus to the music, which has proven to be in step with the 21st century's conflations of rock, noise, and the classical avant garde.
The New York, Sun, USA, Alan Licht

'Metal Machine Music' is the critic's ultimate nightmare.
GetReadyToRock.com, US, Pete Feenstra, 10/2007

This is refreshing and a lot more alive than you really have any right to expect it to be 32 years on, this really does work.
Organ Magazine, US, 9/2007

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.
New York, Downtown MusicGallery, 1/2008

Experiment dur, profound I fascinant!
Avui, ES, 8/2007

…this live version is a wonderful opportunity to get (re) acquainted with one of the most adventurous pieces ever composed by a major rock musician. As Reed stated on the original album “my week beats your year”.
Vital Weekly, 9/2007

Gran espectaculo de erizado minimalismo!
Juan Manuel Freire

Ces Allmands pas complètement fous ont dû se souvenir de l’avertissement de Lou Reed “quiconque est capable d’écouter ce disque jusqu’à la quatrième plage est encore plus malade que moi!” zeitkratzer nous permet d’entrevoir ce que Lou Reed avait en tête lors de l’enregistrement de cette musique, mais que les moyens à sa disposition ainsi que la folie ne lui premirent pas d’exprimer.
Popnews.com, Cyril Lacaud, 9/2007

Une dégustation au long court qui est grandement aidée par la vidéo du concert, qui permet de mieux appréhender l'oeuvre et de visualiser l'extraordinaire travail de l'ensemble Zeitkratzer. Un travail tout en brutalité qui pendant près de trois quarts d'heure souffle d'ardentes braises sonores avant de stopper net pour laisser place aux accords métalliques de Lou Reed et de terminer tous en coeur pour un final en apothéose.
Loin d'avoir constitué pour Lou Reed le disque d'une fin de carrière prématurée, Metal Machine Music s'érige, enfin, bien des années passées, en porte-étendard d'une musique sans concession et fondamentalement bruitiste sans pour autant renier ses élans rock qui furent à la base de sa composition. Un disque unique donc et le couronnement de Lou Reed en tant que compositeur contemporain. Un must dans le genre...
Foutraque, F, DrBou, 9/2007

… et l’on pourrait sans peine attributer à cette relecture de Metal Machine Music par zeitkratzer la petite phrase de Lester Bangs: “MMM est le plus grand album jamais enregistré dans l’histoire du tympan humain!”

Pathetic! Sogar abgebrühten Krokodilen standen danach Begeisterungstränen in den Augen. Die Metal Machine Music bewährt sich als kratzbürstiger Wirbel extrem diskanter Dissonanzen. Keine Sekunde, die der „Musikliebhaber“ nicht gelernt hat, zu verabscheuen!
Bad Alchemy, Rigobert Dittmann, 9/2007

zeitkratzer gelingt eine mikrotonale, frenetische Tour de Force, die nicht genug bestaunt werden kann.
Bad Alchemy, 11/2007

Das Berliner Großereignis
Hessischer Rundfunk, HR2, 9/2007

So holt man sich Krieg ins Haus oder zerstört langjährige Freundschaften. … Übrig bleibt der reine, bloße Klang, der mehr Feinheit in sich trägt als sekundenschnelle Analysen aufweisen können. … Der Ursprung der Freiheit. Zeitkratzer kratzen daran.
Plattentests, Markus Wollmann, 12/2007

Das außergewöhnliche Ereignis ist nun auf CD und DVD erhältlich. Was Streicher, Bläser und Perkussionen kreieren, erinnert an einen in die Länge gezogenen Autounfall. Der Moment des Aufpralls, das schneidende Geräusch von Blech, das zerknittert und zersplittert, nicht lediglich für den Bruchteil einer Sekunde, sondern 50 Minuten lang - so lässt sich der Klang beschreiben, der aus den Lautsprechern dröhnt.
Laut, D, Giuliano Benassi, 9/2007

Eine weitere unglaubliche Leistung. Metal Machine Music bleibt Metal Machine Music – wird dabei aber noch frenetischer, orgiastischer …
Magagin, D, S.Krutzinna, 10/2007