Severino Pfifferling -"Musik für Spülmaschine und Synthesizer"
(Strategic Tape Reserve)
Mostly, when we think of something as surprising, we are referring to something happening that we did not expect, such as a dinosaur appearing in your refrigerator in the middle of the night. At other times, though, surprise can come by something being so close to exactly what you pictured it would be that it is eerie.
Such was the case with the latest oddity from Cologne, Germany label Strategic Tape Reserve - Severino Pfifferling’s Musik für Spülmaschine und Synthesizer. As soon as I found out that “spülmaschine” means “dishwasher,” I immediately imagined the low gurgling of submerged equipment, the rattling of dishes, and hot jets of water and steam. I imagined a murky dark microcosm filled with sounds that were based in the familiar, but, obscured from view by polished metal panels, the sounds would become foreign and unwieldy. I imagined synthesized notes floating in and out like puffy clouds of humid suds and that somehow it would all come together to form a tense and foreboding piece of music. When I loaded up Musik für Spülmaschine und Synthesizer to run it for a full cycle, by golly, that’s exactly what it sounded like.
Severino Pfifferling has done what we all imagined we would someday do, listening to the various labor-saving devices that fill our modern lives. “DUDE, I’ve gotta record this sound - it’s my JAM right now,” we have all said to ourselves. But - where are all the other recordings of dishwashers? I’ve not come across any.
Severino Pfifferling approached the dishwasher as one would approach any other musical instrument - and produced this detailed study of the machine, and its related sounds. Beyond the captured texture, Pfifferling tells an uneasy story of fear, anger and darkness with the collected sound design. Take Maximale Reinigungsleistun, for example. Its innocuous title means “maximum cleaning power,” which sounds like a bright, cheerful slogan straight off a detergent box - but Maximale Reinigungsleistun is not bright or cheerful. It seethes with a pervasive sound of mechanical agitation, paired with an overbearing ambient drone. Occasionally, a reverb-drenched spout of water interrupts the solemn march of the machine.
The true magic of Musik für Spülmaschine und Synthesizer is that it is always precisely what it claims to be. There are no hidden tricks or ‘gotcha’ moments here. It does exactly what the box says it will do, and does it quite well.