November 14, 2013
Den Sorte Skole spend two years crafting a series of encyclopaedic tapestries for a 90-minute LP destined never to be released.
A glance down the astronomical scroll that passes for Lektion III’s Discogs tracklist only begins to tell the story. An extension of the collective’s turntablist sensibilities (they perform with a 6-plate set-up), Lektion III is an ambitious hyper-palimpsest of musical history, a unique record formed of 10,000 sonic samples from over 250 second hand records that span the length and breadth of contemporary recorded music.
As their website details, Lektion III “blends everything from Moroccan traditional songs, Indian hymns and field recordings of Cameroonian Pygmies to forgotten Yugoslav psych, French avant-garde rock and early German electro”; or more specifically, Popol Vuh to Throbbing Gristle, Eddie Kendricks to Paul McCartney’s Wings.
On paper Lektion III sounds at best ambitious, at worst abhorrent. And yet, far from being a sprawling, megalomanic mash-up, the sheer scale, versatility and attention to detail of Lektion III succeeds in elevating the project into something far more interesting than the sum of its musical parts.
Described by one reviewer as “a spectacular bastard” when it first surfaced at a Soundcloud file in April of this year, Lektion III takes its lead from the “open culture” precedent set by the endless availability of music on the internet. Conceptually, it’s something of a meditation on the nature of consumption, digestion and ultimately regurgitation, musically, it succeeds in splicing the most antithetical elements into something a little more universal.
Ultimately though it is the process rather than the product which makes Lektion III so unique. The triple vinyl is accompanied by an extensive booklet that details the origins of every single riff and rattle with archival diligence, treating the samples as shards of excavated pottery to be documented and exhibited. Despite having been called a piece of “original and coherent sound art”, Lektion III would probably be more at home in a museum than a gallery as a cultural patchwork located somewhere between Alan Lomax and DJ Shadow.
While Lektion III may have been created in the spirit of free association, the record has struggled to get any further than Den Sorte Skole’s own website. Having worked on the project for two years, the collective have been unable to complete the Sisyphean task of clearing all 10,000 samples, leaving the record to gather dust with only a handful of self-released copies available on Discogs. In the spirit of the project Den Sorte Skole have made the record available for free download (with the booklet as PDF), although voluntary donations are encouraged.
Click here to find out more and listen to Lektion III in full below: