Jan St. Werner – Glottal Wolpertinger (Fiepblatter Catalogue #6)

Jan St. WernerHave you eaten something recently? Any digestive problems? Have you felt nauseous in the last hour? Hormonal imbalances? Pregnant? Because this shit is going to get strange. Really strange. Like, really-really strange. Like walking in on your parent changing and seeing they’ve transformed into a giant cockroach, the sound of their scream hurts your ears, Kafka is laughing his ass off in the corner as he reads a Garfield comic strip and says in between bouts of laughter, “Ja, Montays really are zee vorst!” kind of weird.

So mind your hats goan in.

This album starts with a young woman listing off individual frequency bands. Ya, that’s how this shit starts. She says things like, “285 Hz”, “382 Hz”, and this goes on until a wave of modulating sound takes over your ears like a goddamn tidal wave. Immediately, and with a surefire and venomous intent, I said, out loud to the room, “fuck this shit” and turned it off. I’m fairly sure that’s what the general reaction to this music will be. I feel like it’s the sane reaction. Listing out frequencies and then playing those frequencies does not sound like an album, it sounds like a fucked up interrogation technique. A few days later, I went back to the album. Why? Well, I wanted, naw, I needed to know what the fuck was happening. And by the fourth track, I was in love.

If you decide to listen to this, most likely you’re going to judge the fuck out of me. Good. I hope you fucking do. I hope you judge me for lengths of entire songs. You’ll be sitting there hating every second of the song and think, “Fuck this Brightly Off-Coloured Discophile person. What a phlem gargling photon cruncher.” And your insults will be really fucking stupid, like a children’s cartoon level of stupid, but that’s what happens when you’re overwhelmed and angry. Eventually, there’ll be some small aspect of the album you enjoy. A unique sound. A feeling. And then you’re fucked. You’ll find yourself on the other side of some large ideological fence and trying to explain to a sea of raised eyebrows how this could be called music, just like I am now.

If you’ve studied linguistics the term “glottal” won’t be new to you. Sounds made deep in the throat or the gut are lumped into this category. The Glottal Stop, for instance, is the sound of the dash in “uh-oh!” Ya, we’ve got a name for fucking everything. A “Wolpertinger” is a messed up being that, most commonly, has a head of a rabbit, the body of a squirrel, the antlers of a deer, and the wings of a bird. Why would someone call their album, “Glottal Wolpertinger”? My guess is that this album, even to Jan, is made up of fucked up sounds that come right from the gut.

If you’ve gone deep into the works of motherfuckers like Éliane Radigue, Daphne Oram, or if Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II is one of your favourite albums, then you may jump into this mess of sound with the ease of a buttered up Olympic diver. This album is composed of drone-like electronic sounds. At times it can sound like you’re standing next to a power station as it’s being encircled by a Bugs Bunny sized magnet. But, somehow, you like it. This isn’t Jan St. Werner’s first electric rodeo. Bastard lives in the world of refrigerator motor music and has made a career living on the outskirts of what electronic music can be. What Jan does better than other sound artists, ones that are strange for the sake of strange, is embedding calmness, openness, and intent into his music. And it’s these things that make the difference between gluing a severed arm onto your chest and Frankenstein’s creature; baseless symbolic dumps and Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”; and children’s paintings and Jackson Pollock. Sure, all of these things are strange, like really-really strange, but they’re fucking beautiful once you catch them at the right angle.




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