Michael Renkel: electric guitar, FX            released on AbsinthRecords (sold out)

Sound Projector / Ed Pinsent :
I’m so enamoured of this record that I’m rapturously declaring it to be one of the finest works yet released in the name of laptoppery and computer-assisted electronic music.( … )
Michael Renkel hath his share of talent also, methinks. He manages a subtle coaxing of curious and wonderful sound events from the powerful package of equipment and tools scetched above. He is perhaps cautious of the power he wields ( unlike others who use every gigabyte of their processing power to mash the listener into submission ), and uses that power judiciously and sparingly. There are plenty of Sampling-Simons around right now who, in the act of feeding found sounds and tapes into their G4s, simply end up brutalising the material ( and themselves in the process ), breaking a butterfly on a wheel. Renkel by contrast, is genuinely keen to explore and discover what is possible using digital technology. All this without a trace of arrogance on his part; yet he may turn out to be a significant innovator and leader in the field. I hear few preconceived ideas on this recording; I do hear a man guided by his own inner voice, a man prepared to listen and learn.

All about Jazz / John Eyles :
Lest anyone think that the use of electric guitar, effects processor and laptop prescribes a particular type of sound or a particular way of playing, here is Michael Renkel to disabuse them of the notion; there are as many ways and sounds as there are players. Renkel used his guitar as a source of non-traditional guitar sounds—including using e-bow and percussive techniques—which were then sent to an effects processor and thence to two laptops. We need not get too bogged down here with exactly what happened next. Suffice to say that Renkel used the results to construct an untitled, uninterrupted 67-minute track. Rather than having an obvious overarching structure, it is an episodic piece, a series of loosely related themes rather than a coherent narrative. But each of the episodes is enthralling enough to effortlessly hold the attention and none of them outstays its welcome, thus making for a rich, kaleidoscopic experience.
Throughout, it bears few telltale signs of its guitar origins, being more of an electronics and percussion piece. And that last detail is crucial; Renkel is never shy of establishing a rhythmic pattern and—with subtle variations—letting it run its course for a prolonged period of time. The result is music that will have you tapping your feet and grooving along as often as it will have you pondering the question of what the latest soundscape reminds you of. (You may recall that Renkel did something similar a few years back with Mowen & Moos Remix. Hmmm… How long until he gives us an all-out dance album?)
Finally, let’s just take a moment to admire the beautiful packaging of this CD. The oversized sleeve (but not as large as the label’s usual 7” sleeves) is screen printed—by M.R. himself—with the striking image of close-up eyes… the kind that follow you around the room. As with the recording itself, no detail has been overlooked to make this limited edition CD one to treasure.

Chain DLK /Andrea Ferraris
Tonight I’ve tried so hard to sleep but it’s just so hot that I’ve been rolling in my bed looking for something to do. Right after the very first listening I was thinking “errorkoerper III” was one of those ghostly records people should definitely listen to at night. I know you may think it could mean it induce to sleep but it has nothing to do with boredoms. Sure this Michael Renkel release is one of those “performance” where barely nothing is happening but in a really Satie-sque manner. Well, if only the french composer could have had the chance to listen to records like this I’m sure he would be touched by the fact “inexpressivity” is finally embodied in modern music and in many living musicians. Ok, let’s make a list: this record is inexpressive and “nearly” nothing is happening…yes, but this series of compositions mainly based on a guitar processed through different effects and a laptop is really intense. Renkel minimal embroidery is so accurately prepared that I’m not afraid to say he probably did it with the serenity of a Zen monk immersed in his meditations exercises. Exercises, exercises…is all what this cd is about? I don’t think so, while its primary essence is experimental-cold-electronic-music its root is electro-acoustic but for God’ sake not disconnected like many releases of the kind. Bravo, bravo Renkel and give a try to the resto of Absinth catalogue ’cause the label is damn interesting!.

The Squid’s Ear / Phil Zampino :
Michael Renkel, who plays electric guitar, FX processors and laptop on this release, creates spatial and varied sound worlds, summoned in ways that you would never suspect started from a guitar. 

The results are a large and dynamic sound journey, presenting a sound palette of great colors and textures. The quality of sound and the varying presentation are rich and detailed, beautifully recorded and often startling and distracting. The piece is organized as a series of dovetailed movements between rhythmic or tonal sections, each drawing attention in a leading sound or environmental quality. It’s coherent and interesting, sometimes lush and sometimes creepy, but always interesting and unusual, an amazing display of the guitar’s (and the guitarist’s) unexpected qualities. 

Special note on the packaging is worth mentioning – unlike the other 7″ packaging that Absinthe has used, this release is presented in a large folded thick paper with a CD nipple to hold the CD, all held in a vinyl sleeve. The paper has a sort of vinyl silkscreen that gives it a rubbery feeling. Label owner Marcus Liebig says that this is the first release that he’s had no hand in the construction of, and it’s definitely a unique item in the label’s catalog. / Brian Olewnick :
I admit to being very much sucked in by the opening sounds from this one: a couple of rich, thrumming bow-swipes on the guitar, opening chords that carried with them substantial promise. To some extent this promise is kept, though at 67 minutes, “errorkoerper III” arguably overstays its welcome a tad. In the accompanying note to the release, Renkel quotes the mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, “Most of the material of our bodies and brains, after all, is being continuously replaced, and it’s just its pattern that persists.” (a body of errors?) Renkel’s core approaches involve the use of both persisting rhythmic and melodic patterns though they’re each varied and camouflaged enough that there’s never really any heavy-handedness with regard to either. For instance, he’ll layer sonorous hums with wooden or metallic surface brushings in fairly short sequences of semi-regular rhythms tinted with some electronic detritus or faint radio captures, live improvisation mixed in with lots of post-processing. These elements will phase in and out, subside in volume to reveal cricket-sounds, perhaps, increase again as some quasi-industrial aspects hove into view; it’s not difficult to listen to as a kind of travelogue, in fact. There’s a certain horizontality to the piece, no real arc, simply motoring from point to interesting intersection. Indeed, given the above-quoted epigram, I’m tempted to try and listen to “errorkoerper III” as a kind of aural Penrose-tiling. 

Renkel does a fine job of maintaining fascination for much of the piece’s duration, stirring together previously encountered sounds with newly discovered ones, changing the blend, giving apt consideration to both pacing and placement. Somewhere in its latter third, my interest began to wander a little. The elements and structure hadn’t particularly changed (though there are a few more recognizable guitar thwangs introduced); possibly it’s only that I feel the point has been made and needn’t be elaborated upon at this length. Others, of course, may differ and find the work’s time scale absolutely appropriate. With that relatively small caveat, I found the disc to be quietly rewarding and stimulating. There’s a kind of serenity and acuity of vision/hearing at work that’s quite enjoyable to contemplate. As with just about everything on this label, well worth a listen.