Touring the city: Walking in Jerusalem takes listeners there
The walls surrounding Jerusalem are pocked with thousands of tiny craters. They're bullet holes, vivid reminders of the volatile frustrations enclosed within this city of ancient conflicts.
As for what life is like in this crucible... we base our assumptions on the frequent headlines about tanks, bombs, and religious extremism. These tallies and tolls of retaliation and strife slant our view to the front-and-center, and, as a result, we often miss the outlying context– the richness of its contained cultures. We can't exactly put a face on Jerusalem. It seems remote, otherworldly, cursed.
Random Inc., aka Sebastian Meissner, has sought to capture the holy city's humanity in his latest release, Walking in Jerusalem. The sounds of everyday egress– snippets of conversation, bird songs, traffic, children's laughter– were plucked from the breeze, minced, and scattered over resting heartbeats of electronic blips and synth washes.
An afterthought to last year's Jerusalem– Tales Outside the Framework of Orthodoxy, Walking furthers Meissner's explorative attempts at capturing the essence of the city. The album, diving into the warm seas of ambient dub, provides a welcome change of pace for Ritornell, a label known for its "difficult," glitchy, experimental electronic ventures.
Meissner is no stranger to unusual combinations; in the late '90s, the German-born artist composed an audience-participatory score for the Ballett Frankfurt. Here, his refined soundscape, created by the "clicks and cuts" method of digital production, splices Muslim and Jewish song fragments in musical metaphor. "Meets Electric Birds in Mamillah," the stand-out track, marbles sounds from a market over a snaking loop of warping tones.
Avoiding any interplay of personal allegiances, Meissner provides an overdue, multi-faceted glimpse of existence behind the scarred walls. In fact, the CD booklet features a thoughtfully selected array of texts on the various districts of Jerusalem, areas that served as inspirations behind specific tracks.
Walking in Jerusalem portrays the diverse residents of this fractured city as who they are– people who long to keep their normalcy whole.