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This is an approach to the myth of the city of Jerusalem. With this project Sebastian Meissner maps out the city's topography and traces the multitude of influxes that charge the place as a cultural, political, and religious point of reference.
Meissner explicitly approaches the subject as an outsider who wanders the city, by using Arabic (Joujouka) and Jewish (Ashkenazi) music of exile. Through digitally produced textures Meissner observes and stages the holy city as historic-political waiting room. In the course of his encounters his observational gaze slowly acquires an understanding of the specific and the particular: Streets of houses and daily details manifest themselves in recordings of shopping malls, bus journeys and the frequencies of pirate radio stations.
PITCHFORK MEDIA
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Could anything in music be more inevitable than a glitch backlash? When a technique with an extremely specific application gets transformed into a "movement" it's bound to eventually lead to some seriously boring records and an indifferent audience. On the evidence of its most recent Clicks & Cuts compilation, Mille Plateaux seems to sense that academic glitch-for-glitch's sake may have run its course, and it set its sights on more pop-friendly waters. Still, the techniques in glitch can be used in service of amazing music when the artist has an understanding of context and a commitment to holistic design. Case in point: Walking in Jerusalem by Random_Inc.

Walking in Jerusalem is a concept album, as sure as anything Rick Wakeman ever dreamed up. It's about the city of its title, a beautiful place with a long history, a fragmented place brimming with tension. Some of these tracks are sourced from field recordings Sebastian Meissner (who works as Random_Inc) made inside the city; about half the tracks are named for her neighborhoods, which are revealed in detail on the map of the city painted onto the CD itself. The sounds of Jerusalem, both real and imagined, form the backbone of this record. In addition to the field recordings, traditional Middle Eastern instruments are sampled and manipulated, giving Walking in Jerusalem the kind of ancient-world-meets-postmodernism-dynamic that Muslimgauze perfected. To convey the tradition, splendor, distortion and confusion that are Jerusalem, Meissner utilizes some of the familiar glitch processes (lots of static, musical fragments chopped to bits and reassembled, and so on) to serve the larger idea. The application to this subject couldn't be more appropriate, and the result is one great record.

The bulk of the proper tracks are remix collaborations, while 11 interludes consist mostly of field recordings. Guests include Electric Birds, Tim Hecker, Ultra-Red and Dub Taylor. The meetings between Meissner and his collaborators on the figurative streets of city (tracks titles are named using the dub tradition, i.e., "Random_Inc Meets the Rip Off Artist in Har Hazofim") lend diversity to the record, which remains singular through its concept and the consistent sound palette. The track in collaboration with Tim Hecker, for example, finds the seam of tension inside the fabric of glowing static in much the same manner as the finest moments of Hecker's Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again. "Random_Inc Meets Electric Birds in Mamillah", not surprisingly, uses a more subtle approach, as a curtain of noise sways lazily in the distance to the pulsating sound of synth pads that seemed derived from some sort of Middle Eastern instrument.

Meissner's solo pieces reflect the work of a skilled electronic composer. "Random_Inc Entering Jerusalem (Coming from the West)" is almost unbearably tense, as a looped double-bass riff juts up against metallic percussion and random sounds from the street, signaling the approach of menace. "Random Inc Entering Jerusalem (Coming from the East)" delivers on that threat, with a dense, atonal web of sampled classical that takes the sound of a string quartet and reassembles them completely wrong, a wheezing contraption that sounds like it's going to hurt somebody.

The vinyl version of "Walking in Jerusalem" is apparently a completely different album, one geared toward the dancefloor using the microhouse techniques on display here on "Random_Inc Meets Dub Taylor in Mahane Yehuda @ 4:30 p.m. (On April 12, 2002)". It's amazing how well this appropriately stripped-down and clubbed-out track works in the context of this abstract record-- a nod, perhaps, to our collective imagination of Israeli nightlife. No matter what kind of track Meissner has in mind, it works as a piece in this larger puzzle, a testament to his thoughtful design. Walking in Jerusalem should be listened to closely, preferably in one sitting. The uncanny sense of movement and immersion as one track slides seamlessly into the next gives the record the feel of that thing that has been such a cliché, the "aural film," the movie without pictures. As long as the techniques can be applied to moving art such as this, I say Long Live Glitch."

[Mark Reichardson]

WRECK THIS MESS
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Sebastian Meissner est une colombe dans un monde en proie aux faucons... À la manière d'Ultra-Red qu'il côtoie sur ce deuxième album, il recycle des sonorités prises sur le vif dans une optique politique et philosophique. Son terrain de chasse favori, pour des raisons personnelles, est Jérusalem... Il met en scène les rumeurs de cette ville millénaire qui a toujours été le n´ud gordien du monde... Refusant de trancher, il capture des sons qui réunissent les communautés israélienne et palestinienne. Mais là où Muslimgauze s'imposait avec la force et violence d'un photo-journalisme musical, Random Inc déambule "tranquillement" d'Est en Ouest en compagnie de Dub Taylor, Electric Birds, Bizz Circuits, Tim Hecker... Ensemble, ils mélangent les bruits, les musiques et les ambiances de la cité avec tous les artifices numériques et rythmiques propre à la mouvance clicks-n-cuts. Il semble qu'il en existe une version "dancefloor" disponible sur un double EP... Ce disque est important, très important. Peace now!"

DUSTED MAGAZINE
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"The windy rhetoric that characterizes today´s global political climate moves too often from pole to pole, from one end of a duality the other. Random_Inc, a.k.a. Mille Plateaux´s Sebastian Meissner, breathes new life into one of the most highly charged topics and regions in recent global history. Sonically, and in some ways conceptually, Random_Inc takes cues from Muslimgauze's sonic pilgrimages, posing as a modern wanderer in an ancient land, gathering sound snippets and melodic fragments and warping them through strands of static. But whereas Muslimgauze´s work was unabashedly partisan (and he never actually physicallyvisited the Middle East), Random_Inc, walks an entirely different path. The premise is that Meissner journeys, literally, through Arab and Israeli quarters in the embattled holy city, picking up shards of sound along the way - of people´s voices, of radio transmissions, of the air that hangs in the streets – that he then warps and filters beyond context. The conceptual separation between Jewish and Arab sounds, however, is deliberately removed – sounds are pulled and twisted into such different contexts that it´s not instantly clear upon listening which quarter, Arab or Israeli, Random_Inc is walking through. In throwing the "Which is it? One or the other?" question completely out the door, Walking in Jerusalem focuses less on divisions and cleavages as it does on unfoldings and unravelings in any number of directions. From the ground, Random_Inc says, there are infinite ways to see. At times he walks alone, while on other tracks, he travels with a companion like Dub Taylor, Electric Birds, or Tim Hecker, who tweak his work into exquisite layers of buzz, glitch, and drone.

It´s a high-minded project, and Meissner pulls it off with a grand subtlety that´s not only a theoretical and intellectual challenge, but a beautiful listen as well. In as much that this album is a very academic take on a nonlinear account of contemporary history, it´s also very much about urban spaces. ´Walking in Jerusalem´ is a digital portrait of a city magnified to an enormous degree, with each hugely magnified pixel taking on a massive character of its own. Meissner achieves this sonically, zooming in until we hear the very granules of glitched sound. ´Random_Inc Entering Jerusalem´ is a forbidding counterpoint between strings and cellos, evoking a tense air full of bickering, while Tim Hecker´s track falls beautifully apart like the breakdown of a day into evening. ´Random_Inc meets Electric Birds´, with its striking repetitive tones, seems made up of ever-eclipsing crescents and currents and is somehow highly disturbing in its placidity. And The Rip-Off Artists´ track throbs with a broken-down beat that stumbles all over itself, as if on a path well-trod by countless feet for innumerable purposes, from galloping to battle to trudging solitary. Even the historical archives that Meissner draws upon are recontextualized as well – any partisanship or religious fervor contained in the samples is dissolved into smooth grayness, or a granular dustiness.

The album is characterized by the scrape and crumble of stone, or concrete rubble, or what seem to be palpable airwaves – but maybe more accurately, instead of about objects, or subjects, it´s about spaces: the spaces between cracks, open passageways and roads, alleys, corners. Even with the samples of human voice and activity – singsongs of children, bustle of market – the album feels distinctly stripped of people and of the outsized personalities that have dominated portrayals of their conflict. With the human fervency removed, we´re left with corridors and corners and ceilings: the architecture of a city, and the air that crackles through it. The album´s mood, while constantly shifting, is captured perfectly by the final lines of the sleeve notes, a quote from Eran Sachs: "The silence is more terrifying to me than those party noises. This silence can barely hide the reality beneath it". Random_Inc sweeps away all but those silences, and they are his gifts to the listener: poetic revelations of space that are confounding, terrifying, beautiful."

SEMIOTIK
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Eine der CDs, die ein offenes System bilden, wie bereits vergleichbare Werke von Ultra-Red dies taten (mp ...). Sounds aus der Umwelt finden Eingang in die Klangwelt dieses Systems von Random Inc, neben Ekkehard Ehlers dem anderen Teil der Autopoieses. Ein klingendes Reisetagebuch. Ein Aufzeichnungsmedium. Eingeschrieben haben sich eine Ankunftshalle im ersten Stück, dann die dezentrierte Anfahrt, aus dem Westen, aus dem Osten. Offenbar führen viele Wege nach Jerusalem. Dann natürlich Walking in Jerusalem. In the Mall and on the beach (wo das sein soll, weiss ich allerdings nicht). Aufnahmen auf der Strasse, in Gebäuden und im Bus. Radiostationen werden gescannt. Und andere befreundete Musiker getroffen, darunter The Rip-off Artist, Dub Taylor, Tim Hecker, Bizz_Circuits, Electric Birds. Vieler Wege führen nach Jerusalem. Gemäss der Mille Plateaux Philosophie: Verbinden, verschalten, Netzwerke bilden. Der Klang einer Stadt ist ein Netzwerk, ein System, ein Plateau aus Klängen."

BOOMKAT
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"A game of two halves, excuse for the football analogy. This continuation of Autopoeises member Random_Inc's exploration of the sounds that flow through Jerusalem and the influences the sights and sounds have on the many collaborators that this new project invites aboard. On the CD a more reflective beatless tact is taken with exclusive collaborations with the amazing Electric Birds, Ran_Slavin, Rip Off Artist, Sony Mao, Bizz Circuits and Ultra-Red. The more rhythmically focussed vinyl edition features exclusives by Random_Inc with - Andreas Tilliander, Mikael Stavoestrand, Anton 'SCSI 9' Qubikov (bo!, wicked track), Greenhouse FX, Pisgat Zeev and Open Source. Artists featured on both formats are Dub Taylor, Tim Hecker while the CD has additional pieces from Random_Inc made from found sound and subtle digital processing plus quicktime videos and lush photography. A fascinating project delivered with great power and understanding. Highly recommended."

EURORANCH
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Random_Inc aka Sebastian Meissner (auch Autopoieses) will uns Jerusalem musikalisch näher bringen. Like a modern-day Leopold Bloom traipsing through James Joyce's Dublin, Meissner's peregrinations take him across the city, moving in and out of its Israeli and Palestinian sections and absorbing them with his recording equipment and prodigious curiosity. The peripatetic theme is furthered by the elegant printing to the CD of a map of the city, marked by red numbers correlating, presumably, to the tracks of the album, each of which is named after a neighborhood. more demnächst live beim club Transmediale in berlin gemeinsam mit den israelischen sound- und videoartists Eran Sachs und Ran Slavin."
"
FLEYER.DE
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Diese Platte ist keine verkitschte Elektroscheibe, die jüdische und arabische Themen als Alibi benutzt. Sie ist ein reflektierter Gang durch Jerusalem. Die Melodien der Blutfeinde koexistieren in Harmonie in der musikalischen Welt von Random_Inc, aber werden von einer leichten Schwermut in dem komplexen Hintergründen der Musik getragen. Das Album ist jedoch nicht traurig – es scheint einfach echt zu sein. Von Straßenaufnahmen werden die Stücke voneinander abgesetzt und zeigen uns Realität und Stimmung. Schwermut und Hoffnung, Ruhiges und Tanzbares, Raues und Schöne. Die unzähligen Facetten in den bedachten Arrangements (mal genauer hinhören) geben am Ende wirklich das Gefühl, eine Idee vermittelt bekommen zu haben, die schön und reich genug ist, um intensiver betrachtet zu werden."

INK19
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"The concept and design of Walking in Jerusalem basically revolve around the idea of Random_Inc (one of Sebastian Meissner's numerous projects) moving around and aurally sketching fragments of life in Jerusalem. Field recordings and descriptive texts of history and location segue into highly impressionistic rhythm-based music. The music, often made in collaboration and implementing the assistance of people like Electric Birds and Tim Hecker, people who already have one foot firmly rooted in dance music tradition, show beats that fall comfortably in between being heavily abstracted and rigidly designed. Dance music is a delicate territory, all too often used to allude to dys/utopian digital culture, and at its best Walking in Jerusalem manages to avoid that, making an album about Jerusalem's culture.

The content is advantageously ambiguous, avoiding simple reliance on polarized political views, yet rather than attaining this affect through impenetrable intellectual density as some Mille Plateaux labelmates occasionally do, Random_Inc opts for a nearly cinematic presentation. In one section, Meissner takes a precise and candid imprint of Jerusalem Beach with his tape recorder and electronically refracts it, settling on a carefully deliberated palette of cycling sounds attributed to the assistance of Bizz Circuits, one of his alter egos.

The only missteps are when the release delves too deeply into a dance form that only vaguely relates to the topic of the album, and fortunately the work rarely seems to go too far overboard. Random_Inc's album is eclectic and provoking, and moreover engrossing for its duration."

[Josh Buzzell]

KONKRET
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Die einen mag es abschrecken, dass diese Platte einem Spaziergang nachempfunden ist, die anderen, dass das Label die Musik als discursive electro-political sound-engeneering kategorisiert. Und Gesamtkunstwerk kann man Walking in Jerusalem auch noch nennen, denn viele Stücke werden im Booklet durch Gedichte und Exzerpte aus Reportagen oder Memoiren ergänzt.

Nichtsdestotrotz ist es anregend zu verfolgen, wie Random_Inc alias Sebastian Meissner hier mit mittels Clicks, Cuts und Loops Episoden aus der Historie Jerusalems illustriert. Das Ausgangsmaterial hat er bei einen Rundgang durch die Stadt aufgenommen - an Orten, die als Ausgangspunkt dienen, um aus unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln aufschlussreiche Randgeschichten des israelisch-palästinensischen Konfliktes zu erzählen. Auf den Vorgängeralbum Jerusalem verfolgte Meissner einen vergleichbaren Ansatz. Dort dokumentierte er allerdings die Teilung der Stadt: In einem Teil vereinbarte er jüdische, im anderen arabische Musik.

Anders als auf dem ersten Album bearbeitet Meissner seine Klangeindrucke teilweise gemeinsam mit anderen Elektronik-Künstlern, darunter Ultra-Red, die ebenfalls mit politisch ambitionierten Alltagsgeräuschcollagen arbeiten. Resultat: Mal groovt es dezent, mal hört man zerstückelte Streicherklänge, die wirken, als suche jemand hektisch nach dem richtigen Klassiksender. Das gilt jedenfalls für die CD-Version, die für die Rezeption im Wohnzimmer konzipiert ist; die Vinyl Ausgabe von Walking in Jerusalem, clubgerecht abgemischt, weicht stark davon ab.

Die Texte, die Konkret-Autor Thomas von der Osten-Sacken fürs Booklet zusammengestellt hat, stammen aus den vergangenen 30 Jahren. Die Autoren beschreiben hier Kindheitserinnerungen, architektonische Entwicklungen oder die Geschichte von Piratensendern. So zeigt Random_Inc mit dieser Platte, dass sich mit elektronischer Musik Bezüge zu aktuellen politischen Diskussionen herstellen lassen – ohne den Hauch einer akademischen Anmutung übrigens."

[Réne Martens]

READ THE HOOK
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"The walls surrounding Jerusalem are pocked with thousands of tiny craters. They're bullet holes, vivid reminders of the volatile frustrations enclosed within this city of ancient conflicts.

As for what life is like in this crucible... we base our assumptions on the frequent headlines about tanks, bombs, and religious extremism. These tallies and tolls of retaliation and strife slant our view to the front-and-center, and, as a result, we often miss the outlying context-- the richness of its contained cultures. We can't exactly put a face on Jerusalem. It seems remote, otherworldly, cursed.

Random Inc., aka Sebastian Meissner, has sought to capture the holy city's humanity in his latest release, Walking in Jerusalem. The sounds of everyday egress-- snippets of conversation, bird songs, traffic, children's laughter-- were plucked from the breeze, minced, and scattered over resting heartbeats of electronic blips and synth washes.

An afterthought to last year's Jerusalem-- Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy, Walking furthers Meissner's explorative attempts at capturing the essence of the city. The album, diving into the warm seas of ambient dub, provides a welcome change of pace for Ritornell, a label known for its "difficult," glitchy, experimental electronic ventures.

Meissner is no stranger to unusual combinations; in the late '90s, the German-born artist composed an audience-participatory score for the Ballett Frankfurt. Here, his refined soundscape, created by the "clicks and cuts" method of digital production, splices Muslim and Jewish song fragments in musical metaphor. "Meets Electric Birds in Mamillah," the stand-out track, marbles sounds from a market over a snaking loop of warping tones.

Avoiding any interplay of personal allegiances, Meissner provides an overdue, multi-faceted glimpse of existence behind the scarred walls. In fact, the CD booklet features a thoughtfully selected array of texts on the various districts of Jerusalem, areas that served as inspirations behind specific tracks.

Walking in Jerusalem portrays the diverse residents of this fractured city as who they are-- people who long to keep their normalcy whole."

[Amy Briggs]

SALON
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Heeding the pledge of the psalmist, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning [...] let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth," electronic composer Random Inc (aka Sebastian Meissner) has devoted two consecutive projects to the embattled holy city. For "Walking," he assembles sound fragments from Jerusalem and the music of a host of collaborators into textured melodies of truncated notes and spliced snippets.

Like a modern-day Leopold Bloom traipsing through James Joyce's Dublin, Meissner's peregrinations take him across the city, moving in and out of its Israeli and Palestinian sections and absorbing them with his recording equipment and prodigious curiosity. The peripatetic theme is furthered by the elegant printing to the CD of a map of the city, marked by red numbers correlating, presumably, to the tracks of the album, each of which is named after a neighborhood.

On "Entering Jerusalem (Coming from the East)," Meissner layers particles of noise into molecules of sound, then loops them together over the whispers of passing cars and murmuring songbirds. On "Meets Electric Birds in Mamillah," elongated beeps run alongside a slow loop that leads into a complex, deliberative composition. Each of the longer tone poems is supplemented by brief interludes of found sound such as a child talking about chocolate in Hebrew, a baby crying and an Arabic voice selling food in a market. An accompanying booklet contains a thoughtful collection of poems and short excerpts from writings on Jerusalem, each related to the district that inspires the specific tracks.

Several electronic artists contribute, but the sense that many hands are stirring the pot does not detract from this intelligent and timely work. The haunted tone that pervades the album is fitting for an accomplished homage to a cherished city embroiled in conflict."

[Stephen Weiss]

STAALPLAAT
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Over the past year several well respected composers have been recording and creating interesting and thought provoking projects in the realm of electronic music. Earlier in the year Stephan Mathieu released 'Edits' while his collaborator, Ekkehard Ehlers recorded his 'Plays' series. Tim Hecker created an album, which used source material from Van Halen interviews, concert footage and Eddie's trademark guitar riffs. The most recent artist to gather interesting source material to create a body of work is Random Inc.'s, Sebastian Meissner. Having been fascinated with the culture of the Middle East, he traveled through Israel, but focused on the city of Jerusalem for this project. 'Jerusalem' was released by Ritornell from Inc.´s processed field recordings. Shortly thereafter, Mille Plateaux released the companion 'Walking in Jerusalem,' which is a fresh take on the reworking concept. Several artists, such as Tim Hecker, Electric Birds and the Rip-Off Artist had the opportunity to manipulate Ranom_Inc.'s original works for this album. The pieces are ambient sound collages that have been treated through a variety of software. Jewish and Palestinian musical styles are interwoven with field recordings taken from the streets. These two factions at war with each other have been brought together here. The music contains thick sound-scapes and dub textures with rhythmic pulses. This project is more beat oriented than the projects of his contemporaries. The CD also contains two videos, as well as interesting and un-biased accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian struggles from both sides. We have seen many albums come and go lately, but 'Walking In Jerusalem' will be remembered for its musical and intellectual impact."

SONOMU
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Walking in Jerusalem is Sebastien Meissner´s second tour through the holiest/unholiest city in the world. On _Jerusalem: Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy_ (Ritornell), he evoked the division of the city into Jewish and Arabic with a wall of silence midway through. This time, he has both allowed all sounds to mix and mesh, as well as sharing space on the record with other electronic musicians like Tim Hecker, Electric Birds and the Rip-Off Artist, providing their own versions of the aural archive Meissner has so meticulously compiled.

Perhaps the blending of Jewish and Palestinian musical styles with field-recorded street sounds is Random Inc´s answer to his own question as to how to bridge the chasm between these two groups. In pairing them up rather than distinguishing them from one another, the myriad similarities between the cultures become evident, getting stuck together by the glue of the rhythmic pulse and dub textures of Meissner and his collaborators.

Furthermore, unless laptop manipulations have rendered them unrecognizeable, no synagogue chants or calls to the faithful from the minarets are to be heard - this is the profane, not the sacred, Jerusalem, the Jerusalem which is not only the centre of the world, but a town that must live and breath and buy and sell. Hence the visits to the market of Mahane Yehuda (with Dub Taylor) and a pause on the steps leading down to the Damascus Gate, bus stations and radio stations, but nary a meuzzin or rabbi in site.

Even strictly politically, Random Inc leaves well enough alone, with the exception of a visit to Deir Yassin with Ultra-Red, site of a Jewish terror group´s slaughter of innocents in the forties. From the text extract accompanying the piece, we learn interestingly that the revulsion of the Chief Rabbi at the time was so great that he excommunicated the participants.

This moving, challenging, and reflective work, a "must-have" complement to Random Inc.´s equally innovative initial venture into Jerusalem, has been released simultaneously with a vinyl-only version geared to make the listener whirl like a dervish on the dancefloor. The double vinyl housed within the attractive packaging includes further guests, including microglitchy Swedes Andreas Tilliander and Michael Stavöstrand."

[Stephen Fruitman]

STYLUS MAGAZINE
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Random Inc's Jerusalem: Tales from Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy took Jewish and Arab musical recordings and reshaped them into a digital sound portrait of that chaotic city. This 28-track work was structured around Track 14, a 9:49 minute work of near silence that separates (like a wailing wall) the two distinct musical styles examined on this work. It was an ambitious work, and it was also one of the finest releases of 2001.

Now, Random Inc. (aka Sebastian Meissner) has revisited Jerusalem, both literally and figuratively, in a new record, Walking in Jerusalem. Where the first Jerusalem was a unified, cohesive work that tried to explain in musical terms the chaotic separation of two cultures sharing the same plot of land, this second "volume" does something quite different: he examines the effect his first work had on Jerusalem itself, on other artists, and on his own life. This work is, basically, a collage. It's part field recordings Meissner made on a visit to Jerusalem in April of 2002, part musical tracks created out of those field recordings, and part remixes of tracks from the first Jerusalem album by a host of other artists. The CD even comes with two QuickTime movies documenting Meissner's visit to the city. There's a little of just about everything here. Unfortunately, I think the greatest parts of this work are the parts that bear Meissner's name and his name only. The remixes are, at times, interesting, but they dominate this work too much and the album as a whole suffers as a consequence.

The field recordings and Meissner's musical manipulation of those recordings are excellent examples of what makes experimental electronic music so interesting. These recordings are very brief, usually from 30 seconds to a minute in length, but they are fascinating because they give us a glimpse of what Jerusalem is really like: a city, not a war zone, a place where people buy food and laugh and cry and do all the other things that go on in cities. It's easy to forget that simple point, when the news is saturated with pictures of Jerusalem streets filled with tanks and suicide bombers. To hear life going on in Jerusalem is a welcome sign, and it's something, I think, Meissner really wanted to convey in this work. He manages to do this not merely by giving us the sounds of the city, but also by taking those sounds and recreating them into a musical context. The fourth track, "Walking," for example, is just what the title suggests: the recording of someone's feet as they are walking somewhere in the city. We also hear incidental sounds like children coughing and yelling, objects being moved, and so on. But what makes the work more than a simple sample from real life is the rhythm: Meissner takes the sound of a person's movements and creates a rhythm out of that sound. The rhythm does not stand out; it becomes part of its environment, so that you don't even realize it's a rhythm unless you listen closely. It's a beautiful example of how an artist can take a piece of life and give it a new context and a new definition simply by turning life itself into part of a song.

The problem, however, is that those small moments are overwhelmed by the remixes. These remixes are, for the most part, decent attempts to reshape the music on Meissner's earlier work, but they pale in comparison to that work. I really like Electric Birds' remix, but it is not as interesting as its original, and no matter how many times I listen to the remix, I still cannot forget the original. More significantly, most of the remixes stick the Arab and Jewish music in the background and put funky techno grooves in the foreground, thereby gutting what, I think, is the most original and most interesting part of those original compositions.

What's great about Meissner's work is his ability to take source recordings and field recordings and create a new context through which we can understand them. By contrast, the goal of the remixes is to get people to dance. Now, I've got no problem with people dancing to traditional Arab tunes performed over a Mille Plateaux beat; dancing to stuff this weird is cool by any standard. Still, I'd prefer if this work had a little more "Walking" and a little less dancing."

[Michael Heumann]

SPEX
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"Peripherie noch mal anders zeigt das zweite akustische Urlaubsdia, das RANDOM_INC aus Jerusalem schickt: auf Walking in Jerusalem sind jetzt arabische und jüdische Klänge vereint (und damit schon einen Schritt weiter als die Stadt). Zusammen mit Künstlern wie The Rip-Off Artist, Dub Taylor oder Ultra-Red werden hier Fieldrecordings vom Strand oder aus dem Bus mit rauschenden Strömen und endlos verhallten Abgründen kombiniert, welche die jahrtausendealten Geister der Stadt hervorzurufen scheinen. Ergänzt um Fotos, Videoclips und Buchzitate ergibt sich ein so objektiver wie subjektiver Blick auf die Schnittstelle zwischen Europa, Afrika und Asien, zwischen jüdischem, christlichem und moslemischem Glauben. Und ein Aufzeigen der gemeinsamen Wurzeln dreier Kulturen, die sich in der Geschichte viel zu oft schon mit Hass und Unverständnis begegnet sind. So viel über das Ästhetische hinausgehender Effekt ist noch viel zu selten in dieser Kolumne."

[Florian Sievers]

AQUARIUS RECORDS
RANDOM INC. "walking in jerusalem"
CD + DoLP (Mille Plateaux, Germany, 2002)

"This is ostensibly a walk through Jeruselem as recorded by Random Inc. (who was a member of Autopoeises) and then processed/altered/fucked with by himself and a handful of guests including Tim Hecker, Electric Birds, the Rip-Off Artist, Ultra-Red and more. The results are pretty fantastic. I've listened to almost nothing else for the last few nights. This falls somewhere between AQ faves Stefan Mathieu and Oval, sort of gritty, buzzy, and hypnotic dreamscapes, but much darker and more cinematic, partly because of the recorded snippets of life/people/music in Jerusalem, but also because of the musical choices made by the contributors. This is a really dreary, somber, hypnotic, droning affair, with lots of buzz and click and hum and skitter. And the artists gentle touch with the original sound sources results in some totally breathtaking moments. I haven't dug a record this much since Oval's Diskont. Great stuff."

THE WIRE

among "15 best electronica" albums of the year 2002.

THE WIRE
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"When Autopoiesis split up, band member Sebastian Meissner was left with four years of source material he had been gathering on the musical histories of Jerusalem. The result is Jerusalem: Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy, an exquisitely produced reflection upon the simultaneity of Jewish and Arabic histories embedded in the city. In keeping with the subject matter, there is no single approach, but a myriad of sounds that evoke different atmospheres, temporalities, and cultural trajectories.

Meissner is a mainstay of Mille Plateaux´s clicks + cuts crew but he eschews formalist abstraction in favour of narrative by tailoring each track to draw out the details of the source material. The very fact that Jerusalem is the release that sees Ritornell change it´s packaging from the fetishistic digital formalism of its digipacks to a more textual model is significant. This release would be stretched to convey the range of historical references it makes without the accompanying information from the sleevenotes. As well as photographs and kitsch posters, there are extracts in English, German, Hebrew and Arabic from the Koran and the Tora, from poetry by Else Lasker Schüler and William Blake, from Amos Oz, Jehuda Amichai, and many more. The result exists in the space between Muslimgauze´s open-ended polemics and the specificity of Ultra-Red´s thoroughly researched projects. As with Ultra-Red´s releases on Mille Plateaux, the relationship between sound, image, and text is crucial and conveys the complexity of the subject matter with an economy of means that is utterly engaging.

Paradoxically, it is the dispersion of cultural reference points that gives the album its sense of place. While certain tracks make unmistakable quotations, on others it difficult to distinguish between Jewish and Arab sound sources. Messnier despecifies instruments by micro-sampling, renders the referent unrecognisable through processing, and fragments the rhythm so that reconstruction can only ever be partial. Consequently, track 2 only hints at a reference through the syntagmatic arrangement of tones—at certain moments, when arranged in a particular order, the tones take on the cadence of a joujouka rhythm. Or is it a different Middle Eastern pattern? This undecidability is productive for it points to the city´s interwoven cultural history where different musical topographies co-exist in the same location.

Any analysis of Jerusalem would be incomplete without acknowledging the disperate geographies of the Jewish diaspora that began to converged on Palestine in the 1940s. When the accordian strikes up a melody on track 21 it could be Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. Subtle nuances are exposed by this evocation of the persecution that caused the mass migration of Jews from Europe, and as a counterpoint there is a text in the sleevenotes which shows how many of the same human rights abuses inflicted upon Jews in Europe have, since 1948, been re-enacted by Israel´s strategic occupation of Palestinian homes and territories.

Some of the most interesting tracks are cut-ups that retain the sound source while shattering its internal structure. This ranges from track 23´s broken loop of a violin´s tune to the barely audible incisions into the melancholic clarinet on tracks 15 and 24. These click-static compositions take their place among the drones, percussion, and string instruments of tracks 6, 17 and 20. The straight ambient tracks bring together Muslimgauze and Chain Reaction´s dubbed out synth washes, but the most haunting refrain is a soft flute that sounds like Bachir Attar´s "Under the Shadow of Liberty". It punctuates the album´s progress as the richness and diversity of the Jewish influences smother the city´s Arab history. However, the most extraordinary track is the final one. Based on an old recording, it is a collage of scratchy strings that almost form themselves into the music of the 9th century hymn "O come, O come Emmanuel/ And ransom captive Israel/ That mourns in lonely exile here". The combination of a recognisable, if reconfigured, melody with a vocal clip that repeats the same glottal stop without managing to speak recalls the introspection of Curd Duca´s best work. As well as signifying Christianity as Jerusalem´s absent presence, the heavily textured track evokes the hymn´s call for the city´s freedom, yet it is full of the melancholy of that dream´s historical and political realities."

[Ben Borthwick]

LIGA 6000
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Sebastian Meissner hat die atmosphäre einer spurensuche in jerusalem eingefangen, in dem er das dat-gerät mitlaufen ließ. so, wie es ist, wenn man eben an unbekannten orten sucht, ohne ein wirkliches ziel zu haben, wird die aufmerksamkeit ständig von etwas anderem in beschlag genommen. das nimmt irgendwann rhythmische strukturen an, genauso, wie der rückblick auf so eine zeit sich oft an geräuschen und errinnerungen in so etwas wie einen rhythmischen kontext passen läßt. dennoch wirkt hier nichts beliebig - eher aufmerksam. klangforschung im sinne einer visuellen/atmosphärischen spurensuche. es scheint sich auch um eine auseinandersetzung mit der zeit (bei einer stadt wie jerusalem liegt das auch nahe) zu handeln. diese klangcollage ist ebensowenig eindimensional wie die stadt selbst"

MOTION STATE 51
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Inside the handsome booklet tucked into the slipcover housing this disc by Random Inc. (aka Sebastian Meissner) is a photograph of a wall separating Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. This image of this wall serves as a musical metaphor which also divides the sounds featured on this outstanding conceptual work into two long suites. Readers hardly need to be reminded of the fact that Jerusalem is a city mainly inhabited by two groups of people which circumstances have dictated must live queasily side-by-side, constantly teetering on the precipice of disaster and vulnerable to the whims of zealots and crassly scheming politicians on both sides.
Meissner takes recordings from Jewish and Arabic archives and belabours them with his Powerbook, offering up a stark, pointillist and deliberately confusing portrait of Jerusalemite culture over the course of 28 abstract miniatures. The two suites, which perhaps could be titled 'Al-Quds' and 'Yerushalaim', as indicated by the double-sided slipcover, were originally planned to be released each on its own 3" disc, until costs proved prohibitive. The first fourteen cuts process Muslim Arabic material and, after two minutes of ambient silence representing the aforementioned wall, the second set journeys into the Jewish audio world, including some samples identifiable as having been culled from John Zorn's Masada Chamber Ensemble recordings. As the late, great poet of Jerusalem, Yehuda Amichai (who is quoted extensively in the booklet), wrote, "The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams/Like the air over industrial cities/It's hard to breathe." Random, Inc.'s CD washes over these skies fraught with history like a refreshing spring rain though, unfortunately, neither rain nor sound can tear down physical or mental walls."

AQUARIUS RECORDS
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Sebastian Meissner is a mainstay of the Mille Plateaux clicks 'n cuts crew via his work in Autopoesies and his solo projects Random Industries and Random Inc. "Jerusalem" is his latest work, the resulti of four years of gathering and editting sound material, specifically related to the complex and often volatile relationship between Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem. Meissner's meditation on this city's cultural make-up plays upon the geographic rhizomes of neighborhoods and holy sites, which clearly do not follow easily definable boundaries. The city's geography itself acknowleges an extraordinary history of the continuous influx and dispersion of numerous persecuted peoples. While Meissner's micro-sampling technique has the potential to recombine all of the musical elements of both Arabs and Jews into a homogeneous synthesis, he instead opts for a neo-historical approach, co-opting the 20th Century's narrative of that land which saw the power shift from Arabic to Israeli. The first half of the album steps into the empty space left behind by Muslimgauze in a digital appropriation of Arabic percussions, choral chant, and guitars within an electro-glitch setting, but slowly the timbres morph from the warmth of the Arabic to the melancholy of Klezmer with doleful passages for violin, accordion, and clarinet. Meissner keeps a dutiful distance in his recombinant history using only the glitch as his signature, which may rearrange the syntax of the appropriated musics but does not alter the historical narrative to which the musical elements refer."

DIS N DAT RECORDS
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Seeing as we seem to be in the mood for conceptual art at the moment, here is a brilliant work by the other ex-member of Autopoesis, Sebastian Meissner, now trading under the moniker of Random_Inc. This intelligent album throws some light on the current topicality of Jerusalem. Like the city itself, 'Jerusalem' is divided into two lengthy and complicated parts. How can one represent the trobles and history of this region musically? Meissner takes musics from the races, nations, and religions inhabiting the city and its discontents, and distributes them throught it's parts. Old Jewish music infiltrates and absorbs Arabic music. The sounds of the region are processed, confused, cut and pasted, mixed together. For example, a clarinet of a (possibly) Klezmer origin is processed and persuaded to emit a chattering staccato arabic melody. Thus, the complications of Jerusalem are reflected in its construction - and that goes as much for the city as for the album. This is very highly recommended."

ALL CLASSICAL
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Much in the spirit of Sebastian Meissner's past work as Autopoieses and Random Industries, his debut as Random Inc., Jerusalem: Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy, finds him exploring purely intellectual ambient-experimental soundscapes. The fact that this album finds abundant influence in Israeli acoustic music obviously differentiates it from those past albums, though. Again, Meissner segments the music into numerous short tracks and tries to employ a suturing effect. It works surprisingly well relative to his past work, and the effect often crosses over into a dreamy audio adventure into the streets of Jerusalem. A healthy dose of computer-aided sound production propels the Israeli sounds beyond mundaneness. Definitely not for most and not exactly pleasing to the ear, Jerusalem should appeal to those intrigued by Meissner's past work, or to those intrigued by such an intellectual exercise."

ELECTRONIC MUSIC REVIEWS
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Ritornell is the sub-label of Mille Plateaux, which itself is a sub-label of Force Inc. While each of these labels are centered generally around presenting variations of techno and other electronic musics, Ritornell's music is usually at the far fringe of those "popular" genres, releasing music that is as "difficult" as music can get. To be honest, I generally prefer Mille Plateaux releases, as they tend to be more focused on rhythms and sound textures than Ritornell's often noise-induced, aberrant and occasionally maddening ventures into the unknown. But Random Inc's Jerusalem: Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy is an exception beyond exceptions. This is one of the most moving, most intelligent, and most rewarding disks I've purchased in the past year.

Random Inc. is Sebastian Meissner. He is a well-known figure in the Force Inc. universe, having previously released the glitch-fest Selected Random Works (under the name Random Industries) for Ritornell, and having released several other disks on the many Force Inc. labels as member of the deep techno unit, Autopoieses. However, none of those other works quite prepared me for Jerusalem. This is, essentially, a digital reworking of source material culled from historical sound recordings made by Jewish and Palestinian musicians in and around the city of Jerusalem--a city that is more famous today for its bitter struggles between Jews, Moslems, and Christians than for its historical significance as one of the birthplaces of those three religions. According to Ritornell, the digital reworking of these various musics was designed "to create an utopian moment in which this two music cultures, at least on this CD, can co-exist in their own environments." Meissner took certain crucial moments from each tradition and fused them together with digital processing and a host of digital effects to demonstrate both the similarities that the cultures share and the chaos that the city itself is forced to endure decade after decade.

This historical approach to music is an interesting idea, but I was reticent to purchase this disk when it first came out because, well, interesting ideas (especially ones with such an overtly political objective) aren't usually all that interesting to listen to. But, as I said, this disk breaks the rules. It's an exciting work, absolutely full of life and energy, with each song blending into the next, each sound shaped and reshaped in an infinite variety of ways. I never thought I'd say this of a Ritornell release, but Jerusalem is a beautiful piece of work.

The disk begins with digital static, which soon gives way to a reed instrument playing a familiar tune--a tune familiar, at least, to anyone who has heard any Middle Eastern music, especially the great music from Armenia (one-quarter of Jerusalem is controlled by Armenians). I'm not sure exactly what instrument is being sampled here, but it sounds like a duduk. The instrument, however, isn't the point--the point is that what we hear is a fragment of a loop, a excerpt that repeats over and over again while, around us, a wall builds, noisily gaining force and surrounding this very simple sample. Then, as if traveling a thousand years in a brief second, the sample fades and a Who-like (circa "Baba O'Reilly") synth melody--a melody very similar to the reed tune in both structure and shape but is entirely electronic--takes its place, building and overwhelming the digital noise that keeps peeking into our ears, waiting to overwhelm us. This is track two (there are no gaps between any of the disk's 28 tracks). Just as we are familiar with this new development, we hear the reed again--only it's not the reed we heard at first, but a digital copy, a synth emulation of that reed (at least, that's what it sounds like to me). This emulation joins and shares space with its synth shadow, and the two sounds create an unlikely harmony that spreads out, while the digital wall of noise is forced into the background (wailing to itself?). And then they slow down, and we hear the initial reed loop again, floating back into the static from which it came, until the reed sounds disappear altogether and we move into another track, a rhythm track this time, with a different wind instrument and a number of clicking cymbals and beating drums. The digital noise fades here, but the rhythm instruments sound like the same kinds of "clicks" we hear in static, so perhaps the digital noise, too, has its emulation.

I could describe all 28 songs on this disk if I had the inclination. But this is a good sampling of what you'd hear throughout. It is not really Palestinian music; it is not really Jewish music; it is not really even digital electronic music. What is is a story--a story of a city that is overwhelmed by hatred, determination, fear, death, and suffering, and yet a city that has endured for thousands of years and continues to endure, even thrive, despite all these problems. Meissner has done a remarkable job on this disk; he has digitally reworked many types of music and has digitally altered the sounds and shapes of these musics severely, yet, in the end, all we hear is an incredible fusion of sounds and ideas and emotions. It's Meissner--and Ritornell's--finest hour."

[Michael Heumann]

FORWARD - The Jewish Daily
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Singing the Many Songs of Zion, Jerusalem"

- New CD Offers Sonic Meditation on Capital's Communal Divide -


"For many, the idea of "contemporary electronic music" connotes either the cerebral emanations of university computer music departments or the industrial-strength booty-shake of latter-day dance club music. In fact, the last decade or so has seen an explosion of creativity in the wide area between those two approaches.

Small but influential record labels such as England's Warp and Germany's Mille Plateaux have fostered the growth of electronic music that rewards the attentive home listener with everything from dance music elaborations to abstract fantasias best suited to reclining on one's shag rug with eyes closed. It is this vein that we find Random Inc.'s recent release "Jerusalem: Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy" on Mille Plateaux's sub-label Ritornell.

Random Inc., a project of Frankfurt-based musician Sebastian Meissner, offers a sonic meditation on Jerusalem, focusing in particular on the cultural and political divide between the city's Jewish and Arab populations. An accompanying booklet of crisp, modernist design offers quotes from the poetry of Yehuda Amichai, the Passover Haggada, the Koran, the novelist Amos Oz, the Palestinian resource center Badil, William Blake and others, evoking a city both long loved and troubled. "The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams," Amichai wrote. "Like the air over industrial cities/ It's hard to breathe."

A photograph depicts a cement wall in Jerusalem that divides a Jewish neighborhood from an Arab one. Following suit, with a long silence serving as a barrier, Mr. Meissner offers two musical fantasies, one based on Arabic music sources, the other on Jewish sources.

His approach is not a literal depiction of Jerusalem's sounds or music. Finding the Arabic pop music he heard in Jerusalem "a bit too modern," Mr. Meissner chooses traditional music from Joujouka, Morocco, to represent Arabic culture. In similar fashion, he leaps to New York for much of his Jewish music, using excerpts from John Zorn's "Masada" project, itself a mixture of traditional sounds such as klezmer and contemporary treatments. Nonetheless, the music he selects as grist for his mill serves well as markers for two cultures with long histories and rich musical heritages.

Having used a computer to edit and manipulate his musical samples, Mr. Meissner goes beyond mere collage. He uses the musical elements both as quotes in small, identifiable snippets and as plastic material, bending and stretching it, turning it into sonic gravel, bell-like trembling, or lush atmospheres. Each of the two sections begins with a dawn-like shimmer, with the music emerging as if from a great distance. Village flutes signal the arrival of the Arabs, clarinets the Jews.

As it happens, the two sections go on to have somewhat different consistencies. For the "Arab" section, Mr. Meissner emphasizes the samples' rhythms. Bits of sonic grit fly past the beautiful sounds of traditional instruments, first as seemingly random interruptions, then again as carefully placed accents leading into a musical transition. The music is reordered into new grooves, as in track two, on which Moroccan rhaitas (double reed instruments) are shaped into a hypnotic throbbing tremolo. In a lighter turn, track nine turns an oud melody is into a shuffle boogie reminiscent of early T-Rex.

The "Jewish" section places considerably more emphasis on melody and atmosphere. Virtuosic klezmer-style clarinet is heard spinning out rippling ornaments. An accordion haltingly begins an old tune. As the piece concludes, we hear excerpts from Cantor Mordechai Hershman's "Akavyo Ben Mahalalel" from what sounds like an old recording, seeming ever more ancient through the veneers of ultra-modern digital processing. After a spare snatch of the singing, we move on to an instrumental interlude from the recording. Violins heave a bittersweet lyrical swell, again and again, ending enigmatically as the cantor returns for an instant. Unearthly modulations pulse across the strings, gently adding a rhythmic accompaniment.

With "Jerusalem," Random Inc. delivers a surprising tour de force. Lyrical, nostalgic, disruptive and transcendent, one is reminded of Charles Ives's Fourth Symphony, with its melange of American hymns and folksongs dissolving into the atmosphere. While "Jerusalem" is unlikely to alter one's politics regarding the city, it offers a personal and poignant reflection on the cultures with long attachments to it."

[Kurt Hoffman]
SPEX
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

RANDOM INC. Short Stories, Nahost

"Wie könnte es gelingen die akustische Welt des Minimal Techno mit einem stärkeren Akzent an Zeichenhaftigkeit und vakuumdurchbrechender Referenz auszukleiden? Random_Inc., das neue Projekt von Sebastian Meissner, früher Digital Composer der inzwischen aufgelösten Autopoieses, schlägt einen konturierten und stichhaltigen Weg vor. Es geht ganz zielgenau um das Zitieren alter Musikquellen eines kulturell und politisch höchstaufgeladenen Ortes, ´Jerusalem´. Durch die Zitatpraxis von Random_Inc. werden im elektronischen Strukturmuster arabische und jüdische Klangquellen miteinander enggeführt. Und es funkt! Deren Miteinander wie Auseinanderstieben wird auf Random_Inc.´s ´Jerusalem´ feinfühlig ausgegraben und verwoben, so dass sich ein sensibilisiertes Hören für die politisch-historische Topographie des akustischen Materials einstellt. Eine Herangehensweise, die in die futuristische Ausrichtung elektronischer Akustik die Komponente intensiver Geschichtsarbeit einspeist. Durch das Aufspüren vergangener musikalischer Zeichenwelten, jüdischer und arabischer, geht Random_Inc. ihrer geschichtlichen Ähnlichkeit und wechselseitigen Beeinflussung nach und dokumentiert auf politisch aktueller Ebene ihre harsche Trennung.

"Ich war vor allem daran interessiert, wirklich alte Aufnahmen zu finden. Und das utopische Moment bestand dann darin, diese beiden verschiedenen Musiken auf eine CD zu bringen. Auf der CD gibt es in der Mitte ein zweiminütiges Stück, wo gar nichts kommt, der arabische Block hört auf, es kommt ein fünfminütiges Ambientstück mit schönen Flächen, danach kommt noch eine zweiminütige Stille und dann fängt eigentlich erst der jüdische Teil an. Ich wollte von daher nicht dieses >Ach, lass uns doch mal in Frieden leben!< erzeugen. Was würde sich besser anbieten, als die beiden Elemente miteinander zu vermischen? Aber es ging um die Trennung, wie auf dem Bild auf dem Cover: die Mauer, die zwischen beiden Teilen Jerusalems auf politischer Ebene herrscht. Das Interesse an alter jüdischer Musik entdeckte Sebastian Meissner bei einem Arbeitsaufenthalt in New York. John Zorn und sein Jazzprojekt Masada erschienen im Umgang mit den geheimnisvollen kulturellen Patterns jüdischen Klangs ein Vorbild jenseits der Reproduktion konventioneller Orthodoxiemuster abzugeben. "Als ich in New York war, war ich viel allein, bin herumgestreunt, habe mich sehr für das jüdische Viertel und dessen Kultur interessiert und habe mir viele jüdische Sachen angehört, auch gerade alte Schellackplatten mit Gesängen aus Synagogen. Von John Zorns Mesada haben mich dann schließlich die klassisch interpretierten Stücke sehr beeindruckt. Und in Anlehnung an dessen Veröffentlichungspraxis auf Zorns Tzadik Label ist auch der Untertitel >Tales Outside The Framework Of Orthodoxy< entstanden.

Ein feingliedriger Zugang zu technofremden Musiken, der in diesem abseitigen Schritt strukturelle Öffnung erfährt und ihn als chancenhafte Zeichenhaftigkeit und Lesbarkeit auszubauen weiß. Minimalelektronik, geschichtenerzählend."

[Christopher Strunz]

SONOMU
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Inside the handsome booklet tucked into the slipcover housing this disc by Random Inc. (aka Sebastian Meissner) is a photograph of a wall separating Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. This image of this wall serves as a musical metaphor which also divides the sounds featured on this outstanding conceptual work into two long suites. Readers hardly need to be reminded of the fact that Jerusalem is a city mainly inhabited by two groups of people which circumstances have dictated must live queasily side-by-side, constantly teetering on the precipice of disaster and vulnerable to the whims of zealots and crassly scheming politicians on both sides.
Meissner takes recordings from Jewish and Arabic archives and belabours them with his Powerbook, offering up a stark, pointillist and deliberately confusing portrait of Jerusalemite culture over the course of 28 abstract miniatures. The two suites, which perhaps could be titled 'Al-Quds' and 'Yerushalaim', as indicated by the double-sided slipcover, were originally planned to be released each on its own 3" disc, until costs proved prohibitive. The first fourteen cuts process Muslim Arabic material and, after two minutes of ambient silence representing the aforementioned wall, the second set journeys into the Jewish audio world, including some samples identifiable as having been culled from John Zorn's Masada Chamber Ensemble recordings. As the late, great poet of Jerusalem, Yehuda Amichai (who is quoted extensively in the booklet), wrote, "The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams/Like the air over industrial cities/It's hard to breathe." Random, Inc.'s CD washes over these skies fraught with history like a refreshing spring rain though, unfortunately, neither rain nor sound can tear down physical or mental walls."

[Stephen Fruitman]

ALL MUSIC GUIDE
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Much in the spirit of Sebastian Meissner's past work as Autopoieses and Random Industries, his debut as Random Inc., Jerusalem: Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy, finds him exploring purely intellectual ambient-experimental soundscapes. The fact that this album finds abundant influence in Israeli acoustic music obviously differentiates it from those past albums, though. Again, Meissner segments the music into numerous short tracks and tries to employ a suturing effect. It works surprisingly well relative to his past work, and the effect often crosses over into a dreamy audio adventure into the streets of Jerusalem. A healthy dose of computer-aided sound production propels the Israeli sounds beyond mundaneness. Definitely not for most and not exactly pleasing to the ear, Jerusalem should appeal to those intrigued by Meissner's past work, or to those intrigued by such an intellectual exercise."

[Jason Birchmeier]

REC REC
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Tales outside the framework of orthodoxy so der Untertitel. Um die spannungsgeladene Thematik Jerusalem durchsetzt RANDOM INC. minimale Versatzstücke von Klezmer und maghrebinischer Volksmusik (ATTAR) dezent mit reduziertem Elektro und schafft damit einen weiten Gedenk-Raum von beachtlicher Tiefe (tönt wie ein Echo von MUSLIMGAUZEs Veiled Sisters). Sehr wirkungsvoll nehmen sich auch die zwei eingeschobenen lautlosen Stellen aus, sie als integraler Bestandteil der Musik zu verstehen, kann hier von besonderem Reiz sein. Im Inlet kontrastieren Zitate aus dem ALTEN TESTAMENT, aus dem KORAN, weiter von WILLIAM BLAKE, AMOS OZ, RABBI NACHMAN, ELSE LASKER SCHÜLER etc. mit einer Statistik der seit der Annektierung Ost-Jerusalems (1967) sukzessive betriebenen Enteignung palästinensischer Familien. Ein subtiler, nachhaltiger Beitrag, den ich allen ans Herz legen möchte!"

INCURSION
RANDOM INC. "jerusalem: tales outside the framework of orthodoxy"
CD (Ritornell, Germany, 2001)

"Released without much fanfare from Ritornell, this very impressive work from Sebastian Meissner is an accomplished recording of great scope and unforgettable sound manipulation. Meissner sets out to tell the story of Jerusalem through the use of archive recordings and modern cut-up techniques.
The story of Jerusalem (historically and current-day) can be told through a single symbol: a wall. The wall serves as Meissner's starting point to tell his story:

I remember that the city was divided
Not only between Jews and Arabs,
But between me and you,
When we were there together
-- Jehuda Amichai

This passage is quoted in the supplied booklet, along with other short excerpts from Amichai and others on the subject of Jerusalem. This division between Jews and Arabs forms the basis of this recording: the music is clearly divided between Arabic sources and Jewish. Even a peek at the underside of the compact disc itself showcases a visible wall due to some extended passages of silence halfway through the disc.
The archive material chosen varies from haunting, simple melodies to more complex and occasionally percussive sections. These core elements are then taken and manipulated, sometimes through looping, sometimes through frantic start-stop techniques. Further sounds (crackles, pops, and other digital paraphernalia) are laid over top or buried underneath the source material. The music here has been expertly twisted and turned so that the core is evident and strong, but the rearrangement has given it all a new life.
Things are pieced together in such a way that everything seems very natural together. It's hard to explain how this effect is achieved. At its core, the disc presents us with two sides of a religious struggle, essentially pitted against one another through each other's music. It's as if there is a war on the disc before you even listen to it. The proceedings are not expected to be light or entertaining, and so you set yourself up for this confrontation. The beautiful melodies of the Arabic world; the singing strings of the Jewish world - both are disassembled and taken out of their original context, and both are given similar treatments, yet each is still recognizable in its roots. Yet in the end, division still must lie between the two.
Jerusalem is a thought-provoking release that comes highly recommended. It's one that stands as a unique production amongst a glut of click artists who seem to prefer cloning one another than producing something as inspiring as this."

[Vils M DiSanto]