Donkey No No – Raumklang

Western Mass makes Noise friendly


The visage of Ted Lee has the ubiquity of Obey’s Andre the Giant. He has been involved with Zebu!, Eggs, Eggs, and Curse Purse, among others. This may be a shared experience of those interested in New England underground music. Indeed, it can be like we are all sharing one Queen-sized bed. I’m not saying I know all the politics, all the intersections – but I do know Ted Lee’s face.

Besides Lee, Donkey No No is made up of Jenifer Gelineau and Omeed Goodarzi. Gelineau is a violinist with a tendency towards ambient music. Goodzari’s other work is folksier, more guitar-centric. But they all intersect, feed off the region, the queen-sized bed, and experiment with instruments and song structure.

Raumklang, meaning surround-sound in German, is made up of two tracks, each lasting about 15 minutes. The album, from December of last year, functions well as a whole. However, there is distinction between the two parts; the second half is a little bit more foreboding, a little more restless. But that is not to say it is dark music. In fact, it’s a relievingly indifferent.

If you’ve ever read Fight Club, you might know that the narrator and Tyler Durden spend some time splicing frames of  pornography into movie reels. The audience leaves with a vague, unplaceable uneasiness. That is how a lot of ambient, and especially noise music, hits me. Thanks not what I get from Raumklang. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s not much about the mood at all, but rather the instruments.

Instrumentally, there is a lot going on. The kind of convergence of genre that you would expect from the aforementioned trio. There are discernible elements of twang and industrial, working in camaraderie – (tandem perhaps better?) –  In a utopic kind of way, there is no hierarchy and neither seeks to take over.

Indeed, the entire album is a thing of completion and balance. Surround-sound, being the fulfilling presence of encapsulating noise – being ambience itself. And the titles: Spater Wenig Main and Wenig Später Ging Es Weiter roughly translate to “a little later Main” and “a little later it goes on.” We are promised a little later, and before long, that little later comes. Consummation!

To speak summarily, it is a beautiful release. Something capable of mass appeal, without compromising interest. Drone is demanding, soundscapes are boring and light ambient can start to feel like easy listening. Unlike the aforementioned subgenres, Raumklang is much less sterile. It is a machine, not a device, and it is made up of moving parts. It is terrestrial and it withstands soot and dirt. It’s of a space, not creating a space. It already exists and is not being invented.

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