Haunting ambient soundscapes filled with jarring static noise and erratic chainsaw buzzes interspersed with brief moments of calm before each subsequent hailstorm /\/\/ intense, unnerving, and wholly captivating
Prague-based guitarist and experimental sound artist Ondrej Zajac presents his newest record.
ICU is loud, intense, visceral and at times painfully immediate. it tells a story of pain, of a near death experience, and of the dull and lengthy recuperation. as Ondrej put it - don't expect pretty melodies.
more by the artist here:
You wake up and the world is silky. The night lights are reflecting off the metal surfaces and glass. You try to remember where you are and something squeezes your shoulder. It's a blood pressure monitor, unnoticed up until now. You are connected to a heap of cables and tubes, your fingers keep finding new ones. Everything is swarming, objects overlap, you don't know what's static and what's not. Dilutions are dripping in the infusions. Your head pulsates with the sounds of machines, the roaring of the air conditioning, the quiet but fast steps of the nurses in the hallway of the Intensive Care Unit.
It's hard to tell if you're awake or dozing off, in your sleep you saw all the dreams one can ever dream, there's a foul aftertaste in your mouth. You see faces, silhouettes, the people change. Someone is talking to you as you are falling asleep. The eighth operation. Slowly, you are starting to enjoy this state, which you know is much better than the upcoming one - the one when your head becomes clean and you start feeling the pain. You've never taken a drug, but life and its effort to take yours, has taught you about many different states of mind.
Don't expect nice melodies, this music makes your head ache. It's trying to capture the state before the operation, the post-anaesthetic hazy condition, and the painful recovery. It faithfully captures a short and unexpected chapter, which left a big mark.
"ICU may at first seem off-puttingly noisy, but sticking around reveals a record which continues to explore the guitar as noise making device, and manages to crossover from punishing to blissful like a death by a thousand cuts." - The Quietus / Spool's Out
“It does, however, leave a lasting mark, like a scar. These distorted blasts hide the fact that much of the noise is meant to heal. Ironically, the process of recording these very noises became part of Zajac’s emotional recovery. To hear the sudden guitar in "Caramel” is to encounter the artists’s “home mood” for the very first time: the patient behind the operation, the musician behind the tape: if not fully himself again, then at least partially so.“ - A Closer Listen
"One could say that this is the recording of grief, of the biophysics and biochemistry of a precise event, a mnemonic track that has been impressed in the nervous system. It is a neural net or a fragment of memory spread in sensuous areas which the artist has currently decodified effectively without any sort of mediation or doctrine." - Neural
“Nasce da una viscerale e precisa esigenza “ICU”, un disco volutamente di non semplice ascolto con il quale Zajac tenta di trasmetterci almeno in parte le controverse e angoscianti sensazioni che hanno contraddistinto un frangente significativo della sua esistenza.“ - SoWhat
released March 15, 2017
music & mix: Ondrej Zajac
artwork & design: Mária Trnková