Danish drummer Anders Vestergaard works mostly in the zones of out jazz and improvised music; he’s collaborated with saxophonist Evan Parker, pianists Jacob Anderskov and Kasper Staub, and many others in a wide variety of contexts. His latest release, “prime float // unitary perfect”, is his second as a solo artist, following 2016’s eel. It’s available on the Anyines label, which describes itself as “a release platform for contemporary music working with experimental release formats.”
The first Anvines release was a small jar of moisturizer created by electronic musician Minais B. Others have included a vacuum-packed CD (in order to play it, one must destroy the packaging) by An Gella, and Envase by Xenia Xamanek, in collaboration with visual artist Lea Guldditte Hestelund. Xamanek’s music is constructed of abstract layers of vocals, clambering artificially up and down scales like an old Fairlight sampler trying and failing to imitate a choir. To accompany it, Hestelund created a pinkish marble sculpture, vaguely boomerang-shaped but with a fleshy quality that makes it look like a leftover prop from David Cronenberg‘s eXistenZ. This was adapted into various “souvenirs,” including stick-on tattoos, keychains, magnets, covers for iPhone 5 and 6, postcards, posters, and mugs, all available for purchase from the Anyines Bandcamp page.
Vestergaard’s work consists of two tracks, each approximately 18 minutes long. They are tribal percussion workout jams, lightly treated with reverb to create an atmospheric feeling. The rhythm is steady and tumbling, repeatedly shifting but staying the same for long stretches, with a focus on toms and a few slightly ringing, almost bell-like sounds, but no cymbals. There is a soft hum in the background, as though it was recorded in the belly of a ship. According to Vestergaard, the music is inspired by his practice of the Chinese meditation technique known as Qigong. “Though some of the beats are fast, the inner pace of the music is slow,” he claims. “That slowness and intensity derives from Qigong…I use the beats as a filter for my mind and to obtain a bodily momentum. It’s a kind of ceremony of physical presence.”
The music is only available digitally, but like other Anyines releases, it’s accompanied by a physical object, in this case a test tube containing five sticks of incense designed by the Korean artist Dambi Kim. The incense was given to Burning Ambulance art director I.A. Freeman for testing; here is her report:
The Object: The incense coming in a test tube instantly reminded me of medicine. Since I often use incense, I thought of its healing powers, and the powerful benefits for mind and spirit.
The Incense: The incense is woody. When I burned it, it made my heart rate increase in an uncomfortable manner. Each stick burns for roughly twenty minutes. For me, the incense took away from the experience, since it became overwhelming. It did make me aware of the passage of time, and made me live in the present. I needed to be close to smell it, though; just a few feet away, it was hardly evident.
The Music (with incense): This was not the result I expected; since my heart rate was increased, I did not experience a relaxing connection at all. In fact, I thought it was too aggressive. The first track was faster than the second, but neither was relaxing for me.
The Music (without incense): Without the incense, the repetitive nature of the music can be relaxing, to the point of falling asleep. At times it reminded me of the shamanic drumming of the Sami people, which made me think about sound as a healing force.