Thorsten Soltau / Preslav Literary School


Side A: Thorsten Soltau — turntables
Side B: Preslav Literary School — electronics / tape recorder

Thorsten Soltau’s Grün wie Milch (green as milk) is at first a beautifully compiled mix of gaudy plunderphonics. Like in all good collages, visual or audible, Soltau uses a wide variety of notorious sounds that function as hints in a scavenger hunt to take you to imaginary landscapes. The process of this young artist’s cut-up turntable work is well listenable and seems to squiggles bold and fresh from the needle directly into your ear. While listening and virtually scrapping off more and more of the vinyl locked groove layers, you get deeper into the Soltau sound universe and realize his immense digging for textures in the contemporary and primeval sound mud. Rough and dirty glitches and crackles, snippest of percussion, hypnotic piano loops, distorted and pitched voices all in an amazing vinyl aesthetic.

Preslav Literary School – Alamut is the B Side of this awesome split LP and the third vinyl release from Preslav Literary School in a year. In addition to the tape-static symphonies that have become something of a trademark for the Berlin-based artist, there are also more structured movements that touch upon a range of musical infuences from Popol Vuh to Terry Riley and even, as the opening five minutes testify, the fugues and contrapuntal work of Bach. Beginning with the prologe „Ronald Reagan, total…” from an 1987 radio special, Preslav Literary School unfolds a magnificent 20 minute drone tragedy. It’s intriguing, how this extremely decellerated Bach organ fugue is deconstructed and transformed into mesmerising Chandler tapeloops and degrading magnetic tape fragments, unfolding into an ambience that could as easily belong to the early electronics experiments of the sixties, the uneasy ambient works of the eighties or the post-techno deconstruction witnessed by the turn of the century. This is a beautiful piece of sound art.



Picture Disc
limited edition of 300 copies, deluxe custom silkscreen print on sleeve
core 003


  • Side A — recorded & edited october 2010
  • mixed & compiled september 2011, 19:48 min
  • Side B — recorded september 2011, 19:55 min

Some praise…

“In my ears Alamut is undoubtful the LP side of the year 2011!”
— Kultur[Terrorismus] (D)

“Guitar noise clunks in front of fragments of radio static and ambient snippets, slipping into beautiful marriages of lo-fi conversation, whistling feedback and amplified rustle of stylus on vinyl.”
— ATTN:Magazine (UK)

“A piece of jewelry, a collector’s item, with artwork by Armin Kehrer which has the effect of splinters hitting your eyeball!”
— Bad Alchemy (DE)


Hailed as a “beautifully compiled mix of gaudy plunderphonics,” Thorsten Soltau’s Grün wie Milch, harvests craggy sounds from forgotten vinyl records. Groaning against the turntable, Soltau’s samples scorn audio fidelity—sounding dirtier than a rumor in a high school locker room. With each rotation, the stylus slips deeper into sinkholes of floundering, flailing loops, smacking of sibilant crackles. Through Grün wie Milch’s murk emerges snippets of percussion, hypnotic piano, and pitched-shifted voices, all clawing for traction in the sweltering madness.

Preslav Literary School’s Alamut creates phantom symphonies from tape loops. Opening with a Ronald Reagan speech, the prologue fades into a Bach fugue dipped and dragged through molasses. A ternary bass line slowly repeats, sustained while smears of organ swirl overhead. The melody eventually expires; but returns more granulated, billowing through cathedrals of reverb. The outro pixelates the organ further, distorted loops rocking beside wobbling bass. Both homely and ethereal, Alamut dozes in a thread-bare rocking chair fit for urban angels.
— Todd B. Gruel, A Closer Listen

The picture disc item (CORE 003) is the third release on the excellent Corvo Records label, and it arrived in my clasping digits on 29 November 2011. The A side of this split is by Thorsten Soltau, cleverly manipulating turntables to create 18 minutes of ‘Grün Wie Milch’. I’ve never heard the turntabling method deployed to produce such interesting and sometimes uncanny results, but that’s because Soltau is an intelligent and exploratory artist, moving on from his previous efforts with digital sampling and actively trying to teach himself a new musical language and striving to get towards a form of musique concrète using this fairly limited set-up, which he describes as “two-dimensional”. By this, I suppose that it’s a method that doesn’t allow the range of control and experiment that you might get from editing tapes or sampling sounds, but once harnessed, the discipline can work highly in one’s favour. What we hear on the grooves is brilliant, controlled chaos, lots of loops, occasional wheeps of feedback from the tonearm, the usual crackling from old scratched discs, and grumbly layers of pure textural noise. Soltau allows the looped elements to work their rough mesmeric magic, but never falls asleep behind the controls as he is directing every second of this melded symphony; as a collagist, he leaves in all the rough edges of creation, as if showing us all the rips ans creases in the paper where he tore the image from the old magazine. The other impressive thing is that, despite using slowed-down voice elements, he scrupulously avoids the “narrative” trap that afflicts so many snatchers from old vinyl, and the work remains resolutely abstract. It’s like a form of broken electronic music, a barely-working but completely unique synthesiser with an unrepeatable set of programmed sounds. Fittingly, the graphics on this side depict a kind of crazy-paving visual effect, or the shards of broken information forming into patterns. Tremendous!
Preslav Literary School is Adam Thomas, a Berlin-based artist who also could be described as a sound collagist. His ‘Alamut’ was produced using tape recorders and electronics, and judging from the rather fey sleeve note is motivated by a very strong sense of time and place in the past, both lamenting and celebrating the fact that the past cannot ever be recovered. Nostalgia, to put it more simply. Certainly his slow pace and long sustained tones do evoke a certain elegiac mood, and at times may put you in mind of the work of William Basinski.
The artwork for this side is a jumble of block-graphics that at first sight resembles a street map, which is revealed to be made up of smaller images of people, buildings, cars and dogs; the scrambled arrangement indicates the manner in which nostalgic memories can come to us in broken images. The musical interludes are punctuated with thoughtful stretches of near-silence, and it’s a much more spacey and contemplative work compared with the textural busy-ness of the flip. Preslav Literary School may or may not be using samples from records of orchestral classical music, or playing sustained chords on a keyboard, but he often arrives at the same sort of stately profundity as Tangerine Dream. The artworks for this fine release are by Armin Kehrer, and the item is limited to 300 copies.
— Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector


Pour qu’il n’y ait pas de jaloux, les deux faces de ce vinyle que se partagent Thorsten Soltau (turntables) et le groupe Preslav Literary School sont aussi belles l’une que l’autre. A tel point qu’il ne faut pas craindre de les abîmer pour entendre ce qu’elles contiennent.

En A, nous avons donc Soltau qui fait un collage de sons brefs, sautants ou tournants, d’une voix au ralenti et d’inserts expérimento-décoratifs. Ce n’est pas l’originalité que l’on retient de Grün wie Milch, mais une ardeur au jeu qui bouscule tous les principes mélodistes. En B, c’est la Preslav Literary School qui compose à partir d’enregistrements sur bandes et d’electronics. Pendant qu’un drone d’orgue monte, des voix et des boucles se succèdent. Alamut, c’est un peu la rencontre de Neu! et d’Eliane Radigue qui donne envie d’aller écouter les autres sorties du groupe anglais. N’est-ce pas à ce genre de réaction qu’on reconnaît qu’un split est réussi ?
— Pierre Cécile, Le son du grisli


Alle Vorzüge einer schönen Platte gegenüber einer öden CD kommen auf dieser jüngsten Veröffentlichung des Berliner Corvo-Labels zur Geltung, vor allem durch das liebevolle Artwork (Armin Kehrer) und das Grafikdesign (Christian Göbel) dieser schweren Picture-Split-LP. Die A-Seite füllt der junge Turntablist Thorsten Soltau, der auch als Hamburger Hörbar-Mitglied, als Gründer des m.m-Labels und als Erfinder von The Elecctent People von sich reden macht, einer Plattform, die Künstlerinnen die Gelegenheit bietet, anonym oder pseudonym aufzutreten. Sein 18-minütiges Stück “Grün wie Milch” verwurstet verschiedenste Audiovorlagen zu einer neuen, an den besten Beispielen dieser Kulturtechnik sich orientierenden Komposition. Ich sage nur Philip Jeck, ich sage nur dieb13. Ein in seinen Sog ziehendes, in eine abenteuerliche Erzählform gegossenes Stück Gegenwartsmusik mit Blick auf eine mögliche Zukunft. Man muss kein Prophet sein, um diesem “Plattenspieler” spannende Perspektiven vorauszusehen. Die zweite Seite bestreitet der in Berlin ansässige Brite Adam Thomas, der sich Preslav Literary School nennt und u.a. Direktor von “Test Signals” ist, einer Reihe von Festivals, die neue Formen von Software und Radio erforschen. Bestückt mit Tapes und Elektronik, konfrontiert er in seinem 20-minütigen “Alamut” einen Radiobeitrag über Ronald Reagan mit einer Orgelfuge von Johann Sebastian Bach, deren Transformation Drone-haften Charakter gewinnt, bevor sich alles in nichts auflöst und Ambientsounds an ihre Stelle treten. Gleich zwei Entdeckungen auf einer Platte, sapperlott.
— Felix, freistil


This is a nice looking picture disc, with printing on the PVC sleeve like a Pan record, only it’s on Corvo. Similar experimental chunterings to what you’d expect from something on Pan though. The Thorsten Soltau sound is a big concrete sound collage with evolving loops of weird found sounds which are evocative and bordering on musical. At one point the chime of a piano peeks out of the hiss with a handful of tinny chords, wibbling around crazily as if it’s being spun by hand before sticking on a loop… it’s a weird journey he’s taking us on but not an objectionable one, and now I’ve settled into it I’m finding it pretty charming in it’s own stuttering, broken way.
On the other side there’s Preslav Literary School. Opening with some recorded German speech that gives way to a deconstructed Bach fugue slowed almost to a standstill to create a shimmering Basinski-esque soundworld that clocks in just shy of 20 minutes. The use of space is reminding me of Johann Johannsson’s epic Virthulegu Forsetar in the way it allows for chunks of near-silence to let the sounds really breathe, making for masterful late-night headphone music. When the music kicks in after a period of near-emptiness it’s got a really uplifting and cleansing quality to it. Both pieces on this LP are pretty long, and they showcase very different aspects of plunderphonics, and each is rewarding in its own way.
— Mike, Norman Records


Soltau’s side is as fractious as the artwork suggests; turntable compositions that jump from here to there with kinetic indifference. His statement of intent is in German and mentions John Oswald, so keep a humorless version of that man’s work in mind when exploring this release. Preslav Literary School evinces as much overwrought, plaintive emotion as this act can out of a tape recording. The artwork on this side is a little more connected but no less busy or involved; the shapes of Cubist human figures spikes the uneven labyrinth depicted. Not sure why you’d want to listen to either unless your head is perfectly bald and you wear turtlenecks every day of the year. Monochromatic picture disk with hard-to-read screenprinted sleeve.
— Doug Mosurock, Still Single


Zu Deutschlands aufstrebendsten Tonschmieden zählt faktisch Corvo Records (…) “Grün wie Milch | Alamut” von Thorsten Soltau | Preslav Literary School publizieren Corvo Records als limitierte Picture Disc (300 Exemplare), welche der Künstler Armin Kehrer in feiner schwarzweiß Optik gestaltete und in einer transparenten, aber bedruckten Verpackung Auslieferung findet. Zum Auftakt präsentiert Thorsten Soltau, Jahrgang 1988, abstrakte Klangplündereien, (…) womit er dem kanadischen Komponisten John Oswald (1953), dem Erfinder der Plunderphonics, huldigt, der die Recyclingmusik in den späten 80ern begründete. Im engeren Sinne bedeutet Plunderphonics Sampling, das Thorsten Soltau, welchen man als Szenegröße betiteln darf, ausschließlich mit Plattenspielern (Turntables) vornimmt. “Grün wie Milch” bietet ihr/ ihm eine vielfältige Soundcollage aus Ambient, Noise, Breakbeats, Spracheinschüben usw., bei der es auch nach mehrfachem Konsum noch neue Nuancen zu entdecken gilt. Den Ausklang bestreitet der englische in Berlin beheimatete Musiker Adam Thomas mit seinem Projekt Preslav Literary School, mit dem er seinem jetzigen Lebensmittelpunkt der Stadt Berlin eine fulminante Hommage bereitet, die auf den Titel “Alamut” (erbaut im Jahre 840) hört, eine uneinnehmbare Festung in den iranischen Bergen, was der Westteil unser Hauptstadt zu Zeiten des kalten Krieges durch die Alliierten England, Frankreich und Amerika war, worauf alleine das Sprachsample von Ronald Reagan zu Anfang der B-Seite hindeutet, welches der Engländern in betörende Sounds hüllt, die Johann Sebastian Bachs Schaffen ähneln und im Verlauf in Richtung Popol Vuh abdriften bis sie letztendlich in leicht noisigem Fahrwasser enden – Wahnsinn! In meine Ohren die Schallplattenseite überhaupt in 2011!
Fazit: Corvo Records zeigen sich mit “Grün wie Milch | Alamut” von Thorsten Soltau | Preslav Literary School absolut geschmackssicher, das in jeglicher Hinsicht vollauf überzeugen mag – meine absolute Empfehlung! PS: Ich kann mir nicht helfen, aber die B-Seite “Alamut” zieht auch nach dem x-ten Hördurchlauf noch völlig in den Bann! Heißt, werde die Erhabenheit von Les Joyaux de la Princesse in Kombination mit der Dichte von Troum erleben möchte, muss dieses Kleinod sein Eigen nennen!
— Raphael Feldmann, KulturTerrorismus


Although recorded and edited back in October 2010, Thorsten Soltau’s side to this split wasn’t actually mixed and compiled until September this year. Such a gap may have been employed to make Soltau’s sound library start to feel like just that – a sound library – rather than a collection of memories and potential anecdotes around the journey to capture the sounds and the sources that created them; to refresh the artist’s perspective on what is essentially just audio, and shake the sound free of pre-existing connotations. But perhaps not; who knows. What I do know is that this is essentially heavily looped, heavily layered musique concrete, with a touch of emphasis on the “musique” aspect. “Grün wie Milch” often feels a bit too clumsy in its transitions (not in an enchanting way that leaves the frayed edges of process untouched, but in a manner that feels too obvious to these ears), and it’s perhaps too congested with sound at points, but Soltau’s sound combinations are undeniably gorgeous for the most part. Guitar noise clunks in front of fragments of radio static and ambient snippets, slipping into beautiful marriages of lo-fi conversation, whistling feedback and amplified rustle of stylus on vinyl. The incessant looping is a prominent feature, and not only prises sound further from their original signifiers but also brings in a slightly musical attitude to rhythm and repetition. Continuing the utilisation of recycled sound, Preslav Literary School fades out its opening German monologue to unveil a starry, shimmering reconstruction of a J.S Bach fuge. Chords overlap eachother so that a dissonance lingers between them, with haunting organ tones vaguely tracing a melody while ultimately feeling lost in mystical freeform. The section during which a phased fifth-interval drone takes precedence is considerably less interesting than the flowing chord progressions before it, but the broken, stuttering loop that follows it is an instant redeemer. It crumbles and distorts as a weathered outline of its former self, stripped of timbre and emanating as indistinct drones; a bit like one of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. It follows on very nicely from Soltau’s sonic bustle – a long exhale of relief after the overlapping rhythms and claustrophobia of the audio metropolis before it, and a chance to cast the mind out of concentration – and out of orbit – following Soltau’s boisterous (but rewarding) demand for listener awareness. Pretty good stuff.
Jack Chuter, ATTN:Magazine


Ein Schmuckstück, ein Sammlerstück, mit Artwork von Armin Kehrer, das man gar nicht angucken kann, ohne dass sich Splitter in die Augäpfel bohren. (…) Soltau, Klangsurrealist mit Standbein in Oldenburg und Spielbein in der Hamburger Hörbar, beginnt mit einer plunderphonischen Collage, die darauf baut, dass zumindest die Klangwelt eine Scheibe ist. Une table de dissection für typische Vinylästhetik – schleifende Loops, Scratches, Beschleunigungs- und Verlangsamungseffekte. Erst unkenntliches Material, dann doch auch Pianorepetitionen, Gepinge und nasales Rohrblattgetröte, Sirenenwellen, ein rhythmischer Flow aus Knacksern, Rauschen und Hängern. Unrunde Rotation spiralt hinkend dem Schwarzen Loch zu, wie Ijon Tichy, Held von Kosmos, inklusive Analoger Halluzinelle, Eierschmalz und dem Gerümpel seiner Drei-Raum-Rakete. Adam Thomas, Engländer in Berlin, startet die von einem labyrinthischen Stadtgrundriss bedeckte B-Seite mit einem Feature über den Berlin-Besuch Ronald Reagans 1987. Darüber legt er dröhnendes Gitarrengeklingel in harmonisch orgelnder Erhabenheit. So entfaltet sich ein sakral anmutendes Trauerspiel im ominösen Schatten der Bergfestung der Assassinen. Zwischendurch sinkt der Klang, in dem man eine entschleunigte Bach-Orgelfuge vermuten darf, unter die Hörschwelle. Um in barocker Pracht wieder aufzutauchen, als schimmerndes Schweifen, dann nur noch als knurriges Bohren mit aufgesetzten i-Tüpfelchen. Zuletzt ein dunkles Wummern, das stagnierend kreist, und ein gepresstes helles Rauschen, die sich, Chandler-loop-vereint, durch Straßenschluchten schleppen. Aber was ein bloßes Wort ausmacht – Schule von Preslaw, Alamut, Reagan. Thomas nennt jedoch das Vergangene ausdrücklich ‘irredeemable’, unwiederbringlich. Jede Reflektion auf das, was Umberto Eco ‘Sprachlabor des 10. Jhdts.’ nannte, auf die ‘Fundamentalen’ und ihre Gottesstaaten, aber auch auf ‘den Dolch im Gewande’, dient immer nur der Selbst- und Standortbestimmung hier und jetzt.
— [Bad Alchemy, 71 rbd]

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