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Almost six years after its recording, “Regel #10 (Minimalism)” by the Spanish-Swedish duo Regler is released.

In the avant-garde world, obscurity is almost the norm. Tracking down interviews, articles or album reviews/comments is an odyssey, and if you manage to find a website near you, you don’t manage to scrape much more information either. When I get the CD of Regel#10 (Minimalism), a single 45:39-minute piece created by Regler, I see that it’s a relatively old recording, from 11 November 2017, made in Berlin’s Mädchenkammer (actually a centrally located pension in a historic 19th-century building). Regler is a duo of experimental music and improvisation formed ten years ago by the Swedish Anders Bryngelsson – drummer and percussionist in Brainbombs, Orchestra of Constant Distresss, No Balls, among other groups – and the Spanish artist, guitarist and composer Mattin Artiach – member of bands like Billy Bao or Josetxo Grieta. Throughout the numerous albums they have released over the years, they have sometimes had isolated collaborations with musicians such as Henrik Andersson (Bryngelsson’s partner in Orchestra of Constant Distress), Yoann Durant, Dario Fariello, Seth Kim-Cohen and Andreas Soma, among others.

Several of Regler’s albums, all titled as Regel# and a correlative number, are subtitled in brackets: Dbeat, Noise Core/Free Jazz, Harsh Noise Wall (HNW), Classical Music, Metal, Techno, Blues, No Wave, Ambient… which are, effectively, “their” approaches to each of these genres, as can be seen in a quick check on their bandcamp. I’ll break it down for the uninitiated: nobody should expect “classical music”, “blues” or “ambient” on these albums. They are, in any case, experimental and very free deconstructions of each other, the “interpretation” of two noise musicians of the different concepts of musical genre. There is more closeness, however, in their approaches to different versions of metal, No Wave or HNW: they are situated in the orbit of noise and the unassimilated avant-garde, i.e. the terrain in which the work of Regler and, in particular, of Mattin himself, author of an artistic/musical project with which he participated in 2017 in documenta 14, entitled Social Dissonance, which he later expanded with an extensive essay of the same title, and in which one could read that “noise had become a musical genre with specific tropes – high volume, aggressive frequencies, etc. – and that it was gradually becoming a parody of itself”.

And now we come to Regel#10 (Minimalism). And I’m disengaging: don’t expect recreations of Philip Glass or Steve Reich, or even the more static sounds of La Monte Young or Terry Riley: the minimalism referred to here, in which Norwegian Andreas Soma participates as guest musician, is another philosophical deconstruction of the genre that has been most perversely desecrated in the realm of culture. As the Romanian philosopher Andrei Chitu says in the booklet accompanying the album, minimalism is “the early victim of its own success, as perhaps none of the ‘-isms’ has been more abused and touched by terminological decay”. He further advances that “Minimalism’s relation to form seems to be the interest of the implicit theory found in Regler’s Minimalism, one that could draw a sharp critical edge against some bad habits of the recent and not so recent avant-garde”.

Regel#10 (Minimalism) challenges us with another conceptual meaning of minimalism. Here we hear, above all, the sound produced by drawing with pencils on different surfaces: paper, wooden boards, the snare drum or an electric guitar, recorded with contact microphones and mixed through various synthesizers, filters and pedals. There is also a very simple and monotonous rhythmic pattern and Fred Frith-like guitar strumming. Indeed, it all comes across as monotonous and minimalist, even noisy – in the sense of inarticulate, not “unpleasant”, as no unhealthy frequencies are used – and should be considered more as an exercise in conceptual music, perhaps not as extreme, philosophically speaking, as Cage’s 4’33”, but close to Wolf Vostell’s Fluxus action music – Take the PC-Petite Ceinture bus in Paris and be really attentive during the four-hour journey to everything audible – or to Yves Klein’s Symphonie Monoton-Silence, works that stand on their own merits as the most accurate antecedents of a certain way of understanding minimalism.