Somnambule - Writing About Music

Oz Fritz ~ All Around The World

A boy asks ‘What Is Your Job?’ to which Oz Fritz replies with a hint of a laugh ‘I make recordings’. This brief exchange both summarises and significantly underplays the nature of All Around The World. Fritz has been studio and location recording engineer for Bill Laswell on more than 60 projects so his name might be familiar if you’re an assiduous reader of cd covers. The details of All Around The World’s eleven pieces are provided in the sleevenotes where the first track is described as follows: “... we voyage from the Australian Outback to a prayercall in Tashkent and then on to an Arabic horseshow next to the Great Pyramid in Giza fading in and out to Tamil priests and chanting monks at the Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Paris.” Fritz effectively presents a collaged travelogue of street sounds, footfalls echoing in bazaars, the roar of the Parisian subway, mopeds roaring away on African streets and so on. There’s also some very wonderful music whose highlight must surely be Marralyil, recorded in the north Australian outback. Fritz’s recordings evidently don’t aspire to the (supposedly) pure transcription of ethnographical location recorders or the sheen of Peter Gabriel’s Wiltshire-based Real World studios. For one thing he appears intermittently, acting as both guide and tourist, expert and ingenue. The liner notes acknowledge the influence of John Cage in the acceptance of everyday sound as music as well as referring to the underlying theme of the work as “... a practical technology for preparation and survival of bodily death”. The validity of this claim should be left up to the individual listener to assess, but such wayward, Burroughsian thinking is certainly welcome in this quarter. All Around The World prompts the listener to question whether the world really is shrinking, whether it’s becoming any less confused, confusing or strange, how partial the concept of the global village is, and so on. It’s a questing, clever and committed work which amply repays both passive contemplation and intellectual engagement.
Colin Buttimer
November 2004
Published by Grooves magazine