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Reviews
Shinjuku Thief - The Scribbler
Saturday, September 15 2007 @ 02:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Gottskalk

The Scribbler

Artist: Shinjuku Thief Australia

Title: The Scribbler

Label: Cold Spring Records United Kingdom

Genre: Experimental / Orchestral

01 The Assessor
02 Stepping from Routine
03 Blue Octavo Notebooks
04 Threats and Violence
05 Proceedings
06 Lips of the Guilty
07 A Promise and a Lecture
08 An Awful Autumn
09 Degrees of Acquittal
10 The Fabric of Guilt
11 The Invisible Architect
12 Paynes Grey
13 The Parable
14 Vogelfrei I&II

The Cold Spring re-release of Shinjuku Thief's "The Scribbler" is somewhat a “return-to-the-source”.

Birthed as the accompanying soundtrack to an installation/performance entitled “K”, the piece was commissioned by the Australian Lygon Arts Festival in 1990. It was originally released in 1992 on Dorobo, the label originally founded by Darrin Verhagen, Charles Tetaz and Francois Tetaz.

The reissue's remastering was done by Francois Tetaz himself, it also contains a 9-minute video clip drawn from Richard Grant's original material for the installation, incorporating filmic visuals, architectural schematics, drawings, textures and photographs of Franz Kafka's birthplace, Prague.

After the debut release of “Bloody Tourist” on Xtreme, ”K” was extensively reworked and extra detail was added. The Cd's inner sleeve notes that, "...there were a number of changes made which can be seen as characteristic of the band's general approach to music. Background atmospheres started to assume greater importance(in this instance also incorporating passages of Kafka's text), some of the initially pedestrian progressions were "pushed out" harmonically, and, overall, the work was given a degree of detailing absent in the 1990 version."

“K” seems on the outset to be sparse and filmic. As the recording unfolds one notices that it contains subtle, sound-trackish layers. Contemplative and reflective, at times urgent, it also holds the melancholic sensuality embodied in much classical music.

17 years later, Darrin Verhagen has a string of seminal, genre-crushing works behind him, and lectures in sound design and production at RMIT University in Melbourne. Verhagen's organic and grandiose production style begins here, and extends outwards from the early 1990s to encompass a dark distillation of brooding, densely textured neo-classical works, soundtrack thematics and industrial mindscapes.

Therefore, “The Scribbler” represents the genesis of a talented and singular producer-composer. Later sojourns into conceptual work (such as “The Witch Trilogy”,and noise project “EPA” ), make both “Bloody Tourist” and “The Scribbler” a fascinating portent. The interplay of theatrical sound design fused with epic and orchestral elements inject a transcendentalism into the framework of gothic-industrial music, which is a noticeable motif in all Verhagen's works.

Buy. Listen. Watch. And make sure you read some Kafka whilst doing so.

     


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