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Listening to the audio here on face value is an engaging listen but takes on a new resonance once the concept has been understood. Von Hausswolff was asked by a friend to create music for a play about the life of poet Arthur Rimbaud. Based on a famous letter by Rimbaud, the play studies his life which would conclude with him dwelling in the city of Harar where he occupied his time as a coffee trad ...

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800,000 Seconds in Harar by CM Von Hausswolff
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8/10 Ant Staff review, 15 March 2011

Listening to the audio here on face value is an engaging listen but takes on a new resonance once the concept has been understood. Von Hausswolff was asked by a friend to create music for a play about the life of poet Arthur Rimbaud. Based on a famous letter by Rimbaud, the play studies his life which would conclude with him dwelling in the city of Harar where he occupied his time as a coffee trader, photographer, explorer and arms dealer. An interesting life I'm sure you'll agree. To create the soundtrack Von Hausswolf spent ten days in the city of Harar where he captured many recordings, which have been edited and presented here. The sounds range from insects to sustained tense drones, dripping water and oscillators.

In all honesty Arthur Rimaid is a name which is new to me but his story and the audio here make me most curious about his life. For example my love of Jamaican music and interest in Rastafari are tantalised when I discover that one of Rimbaud's closest friends was Ras Makonnen, who was father of none other than Emperor Haile Selassie.

Von Hausswolff's recordings give the impression that he's been walking in Rimbaud's shoes during his residency in the city and have the same impact as some of his other recordings which feel like they are very much channeling ghosts and past lives. Throughout I often get a fairly distinct feeling of underlying paranoia - perhaps a sense of the poet's remorse about his arms dealing activities? Overall the sounds are wide open to interpretation and it is precisely that which makes the disc so appealing. Magnificent sounds from this excellent Swedish audio/ visual artist. Recommended.


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