Janek Schaefer’s albums constitute a remedy against the cynicism spreading among the arbiters of avant garde taste who consider the act of listening within their own selves a deadly sin. Phoenix & Phaedra Holding Patterns, dedicated to the composer’s youngest offspring, was conceived as a piece to be played at the back of an auditorium, the stage left empty in order for the audience to realize that the sound, not the performer, is what really counts. A surround speaker system reproduces a “classic” superimposition of static harmonic layers generated through transistor radios alimented by a FM transmitter, a multitude of found sounds (including spoken snippets) and a sruti box whose mantric droning informs extended segments. The music moves across different stages of evocative imagery, textural grain and definition constantly varying, forlorn loops and melancholic arpeggios entwined inside a blur of reverberation. Crackle, hiss and what sounds like it could be a vacuum cleaner appear and fade away, as chordal washes in wavering calm introduce poignant flashes of soul-enhancing limitlessness. 2008′s British Composer Of The Year knows how to balance intuition, sentiment and physical reaction in the conscientious listener, the spectrum of our deepest feelings becoming broader with the passage of time.


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