Chop Shop
Oxide
23five012

REVIEWS:

Brainwashed.com
May 4, 2008

     The inevitable fallibility of magnetic media can, while being frustrating as all hell to an artist, provide the impetus for an even better creation. Oxide represents such a creative disaster: old cassettes and reels of tape had been accidentally subjected to moisture damage. Instead of tossing them, Scott Konzelmann strung them up and pulled what he could off of the decaying tape and built this new work out of the remnants in his first full length release in quite awhile.
     The structure of the single 49 minute track alone is a metaphor for the fickle nature of magnetic tape: it has a very cut & paste quality, but without the per-sample perfection of digital audio editing tools. Instead, it feels raw and unpolished, like art based on rotting audiotape should. The rough structure is only amplified by the actual sounds that lie within it. Sonically it is a rather noisy work, sounds resembling machinery rattles, amplified sandpaper, abrasive textures, etc.
      It is jarring at times, listening to what may simply be amplified and processed tape hiss requires careful attention to hear subtleties before the listener is slapped in the face by a raw blast of pure audio sludge. From the sound of things, it doesn't sound like a great deal of processing was used to the original raw material, since it sill retains such an unaffected, analog quality. The original sounds were based around Konzelmann’s traditional approach to music: utilizing various junkyard sonic installations to create a veritable Sanford and Son noise orchestra. However, the decay of tape makes this less relevant but doesn't hamper the artistic quality of the work.
      The actual sound of decay that is presented here is by far its strongest asset: the listener can practically hear the creases in the tape, pieces of magnetic oxide that may have flaked off due to environmental damage, mold blocking the tape heads, etc. Often, the minimal nature of the damage is fascinating: the sub-bass hum and crackle at around the 17 minute mark are among the most compelling audio textures I've heard in material like this. The parts that are more dissonant rank up there with the best of the analog noise kings, before folks like Merzbow traded in their junk gear for Powerbooks.
      The overarching analog sound of this work is what makes it stand on its own amongst its peers. No matter how complex one can make a Max/MSP patch, or how many modules one can load into Reaktor, getting textures and sounds like are found here simply isn't the same. Perhaps the most adept artists could model sounds like this, but I'm skeptical that it would retain the same warmth and fascinating microcosmic worlds that are here. An abstract, occasionally violent, but undeniably amazing collection of accidental textures and sounds. -- Creaig Dunton


Bad Alchemy
May 2008

      Bei Chop Shop denken die Eingewiehten sofort an ganz speziell verpackte Sammlerstücke, Kassetten, 3"-, 5"-, 7"- oder 10" Scheiben zwischen Stahlplatten, Dachpappe und dergleichen, die ab 1989 bei Banned Prod., Pure, RRRecords over V2_Archief herauskamen. Scott Konzelmann erschien in der Noise Culture damit als amerikanischer Vetter von Zoviet*France, auch wenn seine Klangwelt sich aus anderen Quellen speiste. Hier greift er in die hinteren Winkel seines Archivs, zu Bändern, denen der Zahn der Zeit, Feuchtigkeit und andere Missgeschicke böse zugesetzt hatte. Lost efforts, recovered. Aber den Beschädigungen, dem Verfall und Verlust gewinnt er nun neue Reize ab. Wie ein Archäologe oder Crime Scene Investigator versucht er, die in Eisenoxid und Chromdioxid gespeicherten Spuren zu sichern und zu lesen. Oft ist er nur ein letzter Seufzer, ein letztes Stottern, ein letztes Furzen, ein wummerndes, grummeliges, zischendes Implodieren, bevor die Bänder endgültig zebröseln. Die Schönhein des Zerfalls? Die Sublimität des Anästhetischen? Konzelmanns Ernte ist unspektakulär, die Geste als solche hat aber genau jene Poesie, die von Recycled Music bis Rusty Hum sein Oeuvre bestimmt.


D-Side
July 2008

      Sculpteur autant que musicien, c'est principalement à travers des installations que la New-yorkais Scott Konzelmann développe une oeuvre faite de haut-parleurs et d'éléments récupérés dans des décharges. Rien d'étonnant donc à ce que pour lui, le son soit davantage caractérisé par sa matérialité que par sa musicalité. Et si Oxide est le premier album CD réalisé sous l'identité de Chop Shop (après nombre de vinyles et cassettes depuis 1989), le matériau sonore utilisé est loin d'être récent, puisqu'il est constitué de bandes retrouvées qui avaient commencé à moisir et tombaient en ruine à mesure que Konzelmann tentaient d'en sauvegarder les données. Fantôme du passé, Oxide est donc particulièrement marqué par l'entropie, celle-ci imprimant aux drones, habituellement très métallique et agressifs de Chop Shop, une patine qui n'est pas sans rappeler celle que William Basinski avait fait subir à ses Disintegration Loops. Assemblé, ou laissés tel quels, qui sait, en une seule longue piste où les accidents (chutes de son, sautes brutales, flou bouillonnant) prennent autant d'importance que les sources sonores elles-mêmes, Oxide est brillante étude du tempes qui passe et de ses effets délétères sur la musique. -- Jean-François Micard


Musique Machine
June 2008

      Oxide’s tense, stark and white neon bleak soundworlds are built from corrupted, decaying and damp ruined taped elements & Over the piece's near on hour playing time a very real feeling of anticipation, dread and starkness is built up, that at times almost reachers fever pitch.
      The piece is built from layers and textures of tape corruption and decay taking in all manner of muffled, stuck, droning and latter agitated tone. It all starts off relatively stretched out and fairly pedestrian if still very bleak, I guess best described as greyed & pale ambient air. As it progresses the shifting from one texture to another gets more rapid & there’s also a greater layering and knitting together of the sound layers as it gets more suffocating and connored-in in it’s feel. The deeper you get into it feels more and more as if your been slowly swallowed by the sounds stark and muffled presences and increasing weight of atmosphere. It's a dammed journey into stark, draining and bleak space with no harmonic or pleasing textures to be found- this is one of the most airless, mean spirited and hopeless things you’ll ever have audio swam through, yet it keeps you attention fixed unwavering through out it’s decaying and wearing out decline.
      With Oxide Chop shops Scott Konzelmann has managed to build a draining, sometimes jarring and noisy- but always compelling long shifting sound canvas, which through simple in it's concept is deeply rewarding and replayble. -- Roger Batty


Octopus
July 2008

      Chop Shop c'est la petite boutique pas bien nette au fond de la cour, celle qui vend des pices détachées d'occasion dont la provenance est douteuse. Autrement dit l'intégrité et le bon fonctionnement du matériel qu'on peut y trouver sont tout sauf garantis ! Chop Shop c'est aussi le nom qu'a choisi Scott Konzelmann, artiste sonore dont on sait peu de choses mais dont le modus operandi est en accord total avec le pseudonyme. On remonte la trace du bonhomme jusqu'en 1987, date de ses premiers essais en recyclage sonore qui l'associrent à l'esthétique industrielle. Depuis, son travail n'a été disponible que par intermittence à travers des éditions trs limitées (cassettes, CDR...), expliquant peut tre que ce nom demeure essentiellement inconnu du large public. C'était sans compter sur l'excellent label 23Five qui entend bien changer les choses en publiant le premier CD longue durée de Chop Shop aprs plus de vingt ans d'activité ! Le titre de cette unique et longue plage, "Oxide", dit presque tout de son contenu. C'est en effet à partir de bandes magnétiques, partiellement abimées aprs un "regrettable accident", que Konzelmann a construit cette pice mystérieuse, tirant partie du caractre hautement dégradable du matériau de base. La texture des bandes, déjà bien r‰peuse, n'en est que plus irrégulire, parsemée de microtraumatismes et de distorsions intimement liés à l'usure inéluctable de l'oxyde de fer ou de chrome. On a l'impression que des fragments de longueur aléatoire ont été coupés et assemblés laborieusement à la colleuse : une démarche pour le moins marginale à l're de la précision digitale, clinique et sans défaut. Le résultat est des plus intrigants car si la dimension physique de la pice est palpable, elle n'en demeure pas moins ostensiblement mécanique et déshumanisée. Avis aux amateurs. -- Jean-Claude Gevrey


Vital Weekly
Number 625, April 29, 2008

      This filled me with much pleasure, as I never expected this. Towards the end of the 80s and in the early 90s, when we were still firm industrial music lovers, Chop Shop was one of our heroes. Not because he was so incredible loud, but his loudspeaker installations looked raw and sounded good. No, actually they sounded 'rusty', as well as a rusty look. Through his speaker installations Chop Shop, the one man band of Scott Konzelmann fed a blend of decayed sounds, taken from all sorts of machinery, sonic residue taped on cheap cassette tape or reel to reel tape machines. Much more serious in his approach than the average noise maker, Konzelmann was already more a visual artist than a musician. I have no idea why he 'left' the scene, or why we didn't hear his name that much in the last ten years, but it's good to hear Oxide. Salvaged from old, damaged tapes, which caused 'flaking, static, dropouts and print through'. If you never saw or heard a cassette or a reel tape - and in these digital days that is probably a lot of people - it's hard to understand what static or dropouts are. Listening to Oxide is a like being transported back in time, to the era of cassettes, hiss, when the music dropped a bit due to an imperfection of the cassette tape. Konzelmann takes all of these sounds, of pure hiss, of loud machine noise, of decay, of erosion and creates his Oxide piece with it. He deliberately leaves in the 'unwanted' breaks, the mistakes and the faults, but his piece is, at least for me who heard pretty much everything of his 'old' music, a true delight. Great to see this on CD and becoming more easy to access, but surely its time to out some of the older releases and have a nostalgic evening of humming noise. -- Frans de Waard


The Sound Projector
May 2008

      Chop Shop is the New York sound-art veteran Scott Kunzelmann. His Oxide (23FIVE CDP 801673901225) is derived from tapes of his metallic sculptures, junkyard specialities which have featured heavily in his steely soundworks from over 20 years. Those fearing a brutal assault on the ears need not worry however, as this 49-minute CD is an intriguing assemblage of long-form abrasive drones, whose varying timbral qualities have been further distressed by moisture damage sustained by the original tapes. Cover imagery features a close-up photograph of a morass of unspooled cassette tape forming a worm-like jungle of disturbing proportions, and it arrives in an embossed slipcase bearing Chop Shop’s emblem. -- Ed Pinsent


ChainDLK
July 2008

       Though active since 1987, US noisemaker Scott Konzelmann is not really one of the most prolific artists around, so this Oxide cd was hailed as a sort of event. If you're familiar with past Chop Shop releases, not much has changed - crude sections of feedback noise/drones aired through modified loudspeakers, here battling with the defects of damaged tapes (expect some extra hiss and abrupt overlapping). It's grey, raw static music, whose gritty textures tend to acquire a sort of atmospheric feel. If you can imagine a more physical and unrefined version of López's "ambient" untitled works, you'll get close to the listening experience of Oxide. On the other hand, it comes as no surprise that these static sound masses have been mentioned as a fundamental influence by the master of today's wall-noise, Richard Ramirez/Werewolf Jerusalem. Killer packaging with embossed cardboard jacket and an excellent layout throughout. -- Eugenio Maggi

Signal To Noise
#52, Winter 2009

     The oxidation and ultimate corruption of magnetic tape has inspired a wealth of creative endeavors in recent times, perhaps most notably William Basinski's elegant Disintegration Loops. Increasingly in the post-glitch age, other elements of failure in our media have become opportunities for inspiration and compositional / improvisational chance -- something clearly articulated on this new release by Chop Shop, aka Scott Konzelmann, which takes full advantage of chance drop-outs and other audio hiccups. Konzelmann is best known for his provacative "junk-made" installation work, in which he labors to create unique speaker configurations that alter the way in which his inputs are heard. His archive of tapes documenting his various works was damaged to moisture and on Oxide these tainted drones, industrial whirs, and corroded tones are crudely (and no doubt intentionally) placed side by side in counterpoint. At times, this release is live a drive along a highway dotted with industrial plants -- each new texture filling the sound field entirely. It's at times harrowing stuff, but as the work wears on the textures are reduced and by the end of the piece, you're left with something that could be an air conditioner in your window. This could easily have been a dry exercise in monochromatic sound, but the results of Konzelmann's salvage project are a worthy journey of considered density. - Lawrence English