Curd Duca: Easy Listening

Curd Duca's music belies a strange tension: indeed easy to listen to but also impossible to ignore. At once lavish and parsimonious, synthetic and soulful, a casual precision. This music could easily and subliminally destabilize the shopping routines of post-Prozac mallrat clusters.

Curd works out of his Vienna garret home as fifth-world liberated terra incognita. There amongst bedsheets and arcane filing systems he performs electronic sound bytology, memory-specific prosthetic meldings of music through hybridization and synthesis.

He's played in bands since age 12. Once performed in a 20-piece accordion orchestra as a kid. Did two LPs with 8 Oder 9 and in 1992 he joined a 1-show-only ZZ Top cover band "beards and everything."

On Easy Listening #4 and #5 he continues in the vein of #1-3, "computer-aided music" which explores and de-re-composes beloved tunes that may have enchanted the most nostalgic record bins of our collective minds into tart synaptical instants.

I hear echoes of children's music, fairy tale recordings, Austrian operettas and folkmusik, classical orchestras, TV show soundtracks, marching bands, strange electric organs from old Czech cartoons...all sunken to the subconscious with a layer of modern culture on top,
he explained to me in a 1995 WFMU radio interview.
He is that rare soulful Teuton (Can, Kraftwerk, Mouse on Mars) who is able to put his hands on a piece of chrome and make it radiate with warmth.

Throughout Easy Listening #1-#5 he has dredged poignant sentiments up out of the grooves of scratchy jazz, schmaltzy waltzes and ersatz exotica. Into this he weaves found sounds (water, highway traffic, electronic birds) as rhythm to stir up sedimentary preconceptions and proffers new acoustical strategies'logical, exuberant, lovely sound; music-in-the-progress of being made music about music. His song titles are mere cagey hints of their purloined sources: Bird, Tristano 8, Monk, Greco.

It is Aphex Twin meets Martin Denny on Bam Boo, John Oswald (Plunderphonics) meets Jackie Gleason on Poker, or Negativland commissioned to do the ad soundtrack for a crumbling paradise motel on a sinking tropical isle. Or Eno as Quasimodo on Bell. A Peter Gunn ('gunn') sample in a Moulinex offers whimsical explorations of sound and memory that remind us of the Kraftwerk maxim: machines may indeed have soul (or at least a number of composition-divided-by-whimsy-times-funk settings). On Easy Listening #3, for instance, Manson Chainsaw isolates a snippet of the Beachboys (innocence) mixes in a foreboding whistling sample and then finishes it off with the menacing whine of a chainsaw'a perfect aural cocktail for the souring of innocence at the instant the Beachboys befriend Charles Manson.

There is a warped and wonderfully evocative quality which makes Easy Listening #4 & #5 warmer than run-of-the-mall, bachelor pad and retro-martini, faux leisure musics of the moment because his choices are not predicated on demographical considerations. His "pieces are not parodies because there is too much fondness and sentimental value in them." He clarifies: "I'm mesmerized -- sometimes in a drug-induced-like state of nerdy fascination, letting go of all inhibitions like good taste, good intentions, the hipness factor, and indulging in 'false' sentiments with my mind wide awake." These involuntary twitches, ur-dancebeats, and mnemonic chops which determine the (un)making of his (re)music must emerge from some interstitial region located between what is heard and how it is rmembered. Regardless, his unbridled sonic enthusiasms will continue to take him into the inspirational hidden ecstasy of recuperated sound.


bart plantenga
zeilstraat 23 / II
1075 SB Amsterdam
The Netherlands
fax: 020 427 75 37
email: bart@wfmu.org

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Other links to Curd Duca:
http://www.t0.or.at/~cduca/