Fenn O’Berg – Magic & Return
The legendary Fenn O’Berg are resurfacing eight years since their last performance. Starting with this double CD reissue of their two albums; ‘The Magic Sound Of...’ and ‘The Return Of...’, originally released in 1999 and 2002.
Fenn O’Berg (Christian Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke and Peter Rehberg) first hit the scene after a surprise appearance at the Nickelsdorf Festival in 1997. Throughout 1998 and 1999 the trio toured extensively throughout Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain, as well as shows in North America and Japan. The highlights of these trips were presented on ‘The Magic Sound’. Although they were not first group to utilise mainly mobile computing devices, they were the first to bring such a set up to venues that would not normally book or even be interested in such things. This resulted in some very polarised reactions from both audience and promoters alike. In many instances the group needed to ‘escape’ the city they played. In Rome Jim O’Rourke was even given an acoustic guitar and more or less forced to play a short acoustic set before anyone could leave the building. Despite all of this, there was a generally positive response, with some shows going down as local legend. However its worth considering that the technology at the time didn’t offer the convenience of ‘plug in and play’ of current operating systems and applications. This of course led to set of recordings like no other. Not only was the rule book ripped up but the tour book as well. Each show became an improvised twisted journey through the various strands of electronic music where popular music sources (some more obvious than others) clashed with more academic tricks, but never sounding like being part of either.
By 2002, the groups live output was drastically reduced due to all three members schedules moving in different directions. Only two performances were committed that year, and although the sound was more polished and one could even suggest that ‘they knew what they were doing’, their polarising effect was still there. One show was a sold out over enthusiastic Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the other a miserable ‘count them on one hand’ turnout at a jazz club in Vienna. Edited highlights of these shows made up ‘The Return Of..’
Since then the trio has been on a constant pause. In October 2009 they will get together in Tokyo to record a new studio album planned for early 2010 release. This reissue is repackaged with new artwork by Tina Frank, and contains two bonus tracks from the same period.