in Frieze | 01 NOV 07
Featured in
Issue 111

Mort aux Vaches Ekstra

Gæoudjiparl (Pork Salad Press, 2007)

in Frieze | 01 NOV 07

There’s no one quite like the Danish musician and artist Kristian Vester, aka Gæoudjiparl or Goodiepal (to name only the most prominent of his aliases). Wilfully eccentric, humorous and code-breakingly irrational, even his most conventional releases map out a strange world where new and old elements of acoustic, electronic and mechanical music sit uncomfortably side by side. After the ‘Goodiebag’ and ‘Demonbag’ series of seven-inch records (1998–2000), Vester’s ‘brand’ series of seven-inch picture discs featured subversive ‘Dub’ versions of music he apparently made as a sound designer for clients such as Nokia, Carlsberg and Chupa Chups. A CD, Narc Beacon, followed in 2001.

Over the last few years, despite supposedly retiring from music and moving to the Faroe Islands, Vester has been on tour performing live sets with a mechanical bird in a bell jar – a thing of scarily intricate and demented beauty – which took him two years to make. When I saw him in Helsinki in 2004 at the Avanto Festival, the bird completely fascinated the audience while Vester sat whistling and arranging model planets on a table. More recently he moved to London, setting up as a provider of ‘exclusive events, fixing of broken automata, and 21st-century musical education’, and inviting people to call at his flat any weekday between 9am and 10:10am.

His latest release is a culmination of his activities from 2001 to 2007, and is a kind of unclassifiable retrospective, running alongside the Collected Works that he recently released online through V/Vm as a free download. Based around the live set at Amsterdam’s Paradiso, which also formed the basis of his Mort aux Vaches CD for Staalplaat (2005), Mort aux Vaches Ekstra is a boxed set, or multiple gatefold edition, limited to 45 copies, each of which is handmade and therefore unique. It contains nine pieces of vinyl, in various shapes, sizes and colours, including a teardrop-shaped eight-inch and an America-shaped disc, along with two picture discs from the vinyl edition of Narc Beacon (retitled Nag Nag Bacon) – replete with stylus-wrecking etchings of a truly mind-boggling detail. Also thrown in are two ‘unique icons or time travel objects’, one or two ‘original scores’ and an ‘object of wonder’.

In lieu of a review copy, I was treated to a brilliantly baffling two-hour exposition of the set at Vester’s flat. Having begun in the technology-obsessed world of electronic music, he has traced a deliberate negative trajectory, progressing to an inverse point where much of his work is painstakingly made to order, by hand. He says this set is a collection of musical objects, not art; yet it functions as a broken tool kit of interlocking symbols and ideas – from such disparate spheres as mechanics, linguistics, programming, branding and advertising – as much as a piece of music. It’s also a self-deconstructing Greatest Hits, cannibalizing (and vandalizing) his previous work to date, with some records that play inside out and backwards, some containing faux rapping in various comically mangled languages, and advertising jingles for other Goodiepal products. It’s not an easy listen, and it invites incomprehension. Yet there are no instructions. Dive in, Vester says, and make what you want out of it.