Trockeneis

…A musical collective devoted to New Frictionalism - the boundary between extreme tempi and sonic continuity ("tone")

 

Trockeneis is an acoustic improv group featuring Audrey Chen, Catherine Pancake, Andy Hayleck, Dan Breen, and Andy Hayleck active primarily between 2006 and 2010. The group was focused on creating dense layers of abstract acoustic sound using only voice, dry ice, simple percussion, and experimental bowing and doweling techniques. Sound artist Scott Smallwood attended one of the group's concerts at Princeton University and recorded the group's only album titled "Trockeneis 2025 AD" in a warehouse in Baltimore MD primarily in a stairwell. The record was released by Ehse Records in Baltimore in 2006 and garnered high critical acclaim from national and international experimental music critics. The group toured very intermittently with Chen and Pancake completing a small tour in Taiwan, China, and Japan in 2006. The group played a variety of eclectic shows with more mainstream groups around the northeastern US during their active period.

 

Link to Record: http://www.ehserecords.com/ehse004/

 

The Wire Magazine - http://www.thewire.co.uk/

Trockeneis have an elemental modus operandi. Their instruments are metal, wood, water, heat and cold and dry ice (they take their name from the German word for the substance.) Paul Neidhardt derives his percussion from any object that can be struck or caressed into sound. The sorceress of the dry ice is Catherine Pancake - transmuting solid to gas places her at the rippling, fogged epicentre of Trockeneis's performances. From these elements, without amplification, and with only the addition of Audrey Chen's spectral vocals, the produce pan-spiritual drones of eddying grandeur. In typical listening conditions Trockeneis would sound like white noise or a rumble of coincidental sounds. But with loud playback, one can raise the veil of Trockeneis's sound and descend into its minute delicacies. The single piece on the LP's first side rolls up from silence in a crepuscular glower of creaks and cracks, the bowed metal yawning, tiny changes wrought by massive forces. A pulsing undertow, too earthy to be called a rhythm, forms and the vocals rest on top like mist on a lake. The three pieces which fill the second side are more focused. The first simmers with the flat but menacing undulation of a sea resting before a storm. The second contains sounds that could be strangulated yelps choked out by Chen or something darker still torn from the saws and blocks around. The closing piece whines with the threat of a wind determined to find its way through any crack or crevice, shut window or sealed door. -- Nick Southgate (October 2006)


Selected Concerts (2006 to 2010)
Bard College (opened for Dirty Projectors)
Princeton University
Baltimore Museum of Art (for Dan Deacon's Whartscape)
An Die Musik (Baltimore)
St. Johns Church (Baltimore)
Red Room (Baltimore)
Floristree (Baltimore)
Rotunda (Philadelphia)
Issue Project Room (NYC)
Audrey Chen & Catherine Pancake duos:
Shanghai Conservatory
International House, Tokyo Japan

 

Additional Reviews

Foxy Digitalis 
Dry-ice hangs like smog emanating from a bombed-out, forgotten neighborhood of dilapidated and hollowed buildings. Sitting cross-legged in the middle of a once inhabited park square, you can hear the occasional screeching of a broken sign in the wind, the creaking of unlocked doors on rusty hinges, the occasional pitter-patter of bird feet scouring for a meal, the scrapings of metals, and dead voices drifting on the breeze? This is the sound of an urban wasteland seemingly romanticized like the ruins of Rome; only this is a picture of present and existing conditions in a third-world America, not illustrations from a dystopian novel set in some distant future or found relics of ancient history. These are the conditions of the industrial sectors of so many cities found throughout the Manufacturing Belt. These are the wasted conditions of forgotten neighborhoods; decayed and rotten as prophesied by the Luddites. Trockeneis create a literal interpretation of industrial music for post-industrial times. A music that sounds as though it were created by and for itself within these conditions. These are the desperate sounds of ghostly inhabitants scurrying around abandoned machines across a thick carpet of dirt and iron filings in rooms and halls of empty factories. A sound hidden somewhere between shadows and rust, between silence and horror. 5025 AD is a brilliant LP. Trockeneis is German for "Dry Ice" and is the literal center-piece from which their improvisations are worked from. They make free music made without the aid of electronics or effects; in fact the only instruments used were dry ice, bowed metal, musical saws, bowed cymbals, voice, and percussion. The result is something beautiful, dreary, and mesmerizing; nothing less than amazing. This is not a new release, in fact I believe it came out quite a while back, but that shouldn't stop anyone from ordering a copy immediately. The packaging is beautifully done with artwork by Dan Breen and covers that were hand silk screened by Twig Harper and Carly Ptak. Essential and highly recommended. 9/10 -- Todd Brooks (21 April, 2008)