Shanghaied On Tor Road, FMP, 1992
Sub title: “The World’s 1st Operetta Performed On Nothing But The Daxophone”
1 Give Me Money 3:35
2 Shanghaied On Tor Road (1) 4:28
3 Prelude To “Alleycats Never Complain” 1:17
4 Der Tunnelwart (Big Lulem) 4:02
5 Machines Make Me Happy 7:30
6 It’s A Bit Churchillian 3:15
7 Death Bringer Upon Common Violets Etc. 5:02
8 Welcom Würgl Waltz 3:15
9 The Unprecedented Crimes Of Mbroruk 4:08
10 Hi 3:11
11 A Rare Case Of Dalbergia Cochinchinensis 4:31
12 Panne Lieb 3:14
13 Sentidental Energy 3:27
14 Reunite And Shut Up 4:03
15 Lulem (Der Kleine Tunnelwart) 3:31
16 No Way To Hide 4:53
17 Py & The Jamas 4:17
18 Shanghaied On Tor Road (2)
“It’s not so easy to describe the different ways in which you can manipulate the pitch of a wooden spoon.”1
Hans Reichel is, or rather was, a really curious person. His music has always displaced me, not only because of its difficulty, but rather because of the unusual humor that, at times, he was able to express. It’s even hard to think of him as an improviser, rather I’ve always seen him as a brilliant wood, sound and guitar artisan. The Reichel musician, for me, can’t be analyzed and understood except through the study of the work done by his alter ego: the Reichel guitars (de)manufacturer.
Let’s think about this: when we listen to a record, to evaluate a guitarist we have to put to “ground zero”, so to speak, the guitar, but when the instrument changes, it must also change our assessment about the base on which the guitarist operates. Reichel’s genius consisted in looking for an answer in an acoustic (even if amplified) mean when the spirit of the era turned to systems based on electronics (the Synclavier for Pat Metheny, the Synthaxe for Allan Holdsworth) which, however, imposed to a guitarist, skilled with a personal style and sometimes idiosyncratic manual technique, serious and insurmountable limits. Reichel was able to take a step back looking for answers and possibilities in the acoustic medium and in the deconstruction of the guitar instrument. In a few words: in a physical redefinition of the instrument.
In this album, subtitled “The World’s 1st Operetta performed on nothing but the Daxaphone”, Reichel leads to the extreme consequences the use of his most interesting invention: the Daxophone. The booklet that accompanies the CD provides a detailed description with plenty of technical explanations, drawings and photos: it’s a piece of wood, shaped in a different way, fixed to a tripod to which contact microphones are connected to; it’s played with a bow while at the same time is caressed at the top with a block of wood from the ovoidal shape that has two sides, one completely smooth while on the other have been obtained frets, whose distance is defined by a logarithmic scale. If it’s used on the smooth side, you obtained glissandi, notes if used on the fretted side.
From this (apparently simple) Reichel instrument manages to extract any kind of sounds: (almost) human voices, gasps, animal grunts, parodies of wind instruments, all with a timbre too complex and vast to be synthesized.
The result of this “Operetta” is really upsetting, from his daxophone Reichel manages to obtain almost everything: sloppy melodies, playful rhythm, extraterrestrial sounds, reversed waltzes, chinoiserie and Russian pastoral arias.
But be careful, this Shangaied is not a simple album of effects bundled together without a logic or a precise intention: it’s the atypical result of a precise and well-kept research work in which Reichel doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously .
Reichel has dedicated his whole life to this curious attitude towards sounds, recording a large discography often in the company of excellent names such as Tom Cora, Fred Frith and Kazuhisa Uchihashi. Take care. Shanghaied is a work of enormous musical substance and innovative research.