General Magic and Pita - Fridge Trax Plus
It’s never “all about the music.” The back story to a recording, the cultural context that gives it significance, the ethos and image of a band – it all molds how resulting sounds are experienced. Some music takes this to an extreme and the results overly rely on an appreciation of what went into their creation. This is a definite factor when approaching the General Magic and Pita reissue Fridge Trax Plus. There’s something inspiring about the decision by Peter Rehberg, Andreas Pieper and Ramon Bauer to take one of the most lumpen and uninteresting of modern boons – the refrigerator – and to use it as a source for fresh artistic discoveries. To see the technology approached afresh – its stray sounds mic’d and recorded - reminded me that at its invention the humble ‘fridge’ was a true revolution, one that fundamentally altered the dietary patterns and resulting physical health of populations worldwide while, for a time, its possession acted as one of the dividing lines between middle and lower classes.
In 1994, when this material were realized, the ability of new technologies to capture and warp any sound source heralded a similar revolution. The era of organic acoustics had given way to the electric and was now to be divorced entirely from conventional musical practices. Similarly there was a class impact. The great proletariat - instead of having to overcome the logistics of forming, funding and maintaining a band (let alone recording one effectively) - were given the ability to summon up entire orchestras from ever shrinking devices at ever decreasing prices. The same evolutionary path taken by the fridge was realized in the realm of music.
Unfortunately, that also holds true when it comes to the emotional impact. The present day is glutted with offbeat sound sources; we live in a world where it’s accepted that everything can be reduced to sound data, cut up and rearranged on a laptop. It’s become a ‘so what?’ just like the bland box humming in the corner of the kitchen. The back story in this case gives me a momentary pause; I’m comfy acknowledging these recordings with the word ‘pioneering' - and then I stop caring.
So, in search of positive connection, I revert to trying to appreciate it purely as much. Here again I recognize that Fridge Trax Plus has worth: three skilled practitioners of glitchy electronica forging a range of tones and moods. But, again, it’s hard to get excited. Listened to in 2015 it’s just another (slightly superior) album of rhythmic cycles, of occasional click/cut/bleep/bloop interventions, of the sorts of sounds now populating adverts, lifts, corporate lobbies, comfy suburban dramas. I’m left more interested in hearing what the fridges sounded like before their unpredictable utterances were converted into the recognizable language and structure humans call music. It makes me a typically pampered 21st century listener - listening, but feeling nothing, because I’ve heard it all before.