Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer have been dismantling the boundaries between improvisation and composition for some 16 years now... Full of dark undertones...it’s both humorous and disturbing at once, a gripping combination... As soon as the 45-minute masterpiece that is ULTIMATUM begins to unfold, the listener is transported into a sonic world that could come from another galaxy. Superbly crafted and incredibly inventive, ULTIMATUM holds the attention with ease. It’s music that has the formal rightness of a late Beethoven quartet...in every respect a great piece of music.
The duo of Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer are FURT, and this four-track CD of recordings made between 1997 and 2000 is extremely heavy-going at times. Dark sound manipulation, collage, samples and extreme electronics create a disturbing and heady sound. Snatches of dialogue from The Great Dictator only add to the immense sense of menace.
Their angel is an ambitious work. ...like a digital updating of classic 60s electroacoustic composition... the care taken over the acoustics... the gradual blurring of electronic and acoustic, and the dreamlike way in which motifs drift and re-emerge in unexpected configurations, right up to the ambivalent and disturbing coda... FURT’s anti-minimalist approach is paradoxically refreshing these days...and their delight in the sensuous possibilities of electronic sound is infectious.
FURT is the outstanding electro-acoustic group at the leading edge of this music. The level of understanding that exists between the two in performance produces sensational music.
I was fascinated. ...harsh collages of sped-up samples, a fine spray of sonic shrapnel which they delivered to their own mysterious internal rhythm...
...the bleak industrial electronic sounds Nono explored ... have rubbed off on Barrett and Obermayer. angel oozes with similar surface ugliness and an ingrained, exultant pessimism... the constant changes of direction heard here build considerable impact and have gruesome dramatic power.
...FURT are special... Cavernous echo and abrupt pips, scrunches and blurts suggest malfunctioning equipment in a decaying warehouse... gestures and responses are measured by the playing body rather than bar-line or stop-clock.
It’s impossible to do justice to FURT’s sparkling, impulsive cutup that strains and slumps between high modernist angularity and visceral mud... a rollercoaster apotheosis and pulverisation of bourgeois sentiment.
...an excitement with the clarity of digital samples which is almost erogenous.
...like some fantastic new improvised rock music, all hard-edges and astonishing timbres... models of velocity and structure. FURT contain the genuine promise of musical production beyond the pop-classical divide.