At the beginning of September it all looked different. I was supposed to make some noise in an old cigar factory in a former DDR residential area. Giorgia Angiuli had booked a flight to come over to do some shows and the long awaited collaboration with the visual genius Claudio Sinatti would finally become reality. Then some holes got burned in the time/space texture that we Christians call the month of September: The cigar factory couldn’t be electrified, and the alternative to play in the cells of the nearby police office got considered too late. Giorgia had to deal with the deadline of her thesis, and Claudio’s extra day just fell outside of his basket. But nothing of this I knew when I saw Duo Tham perform at Staalplaat.
A bit bored with the abstract description of their music, I wrote a rather murky introduction text to their staalplaat show. As soon as they started playing, my initial worries to have booked a thirteen in a dozen kind of noise band disappeared. They got me listening to the tip of my ears from beginning to end. Anton Mobin and Thomas Thiery put on a highly dynamic show. And once again I got fascinated by the French experimentalists approach. Now the French language as it is written down seems to be the first step to disintegrating language into clusters of sound. Second, if it is as a non conformist reaction to the petit bourgeois way of furnishing their houses with ever more small objects, a result of working on the tradition started by Schaefer and Ferrari, or an expression of this strange mixture of rooster like behaviour and the capacity to add a nostalgic distinction to everyday experiences, and not to forget the very existence of the word ‘poetry’ that puts an extra metafysical layer to everything French, in an order that the sole expression has a ceremonial function that goes way beyond the one occupied by the French president, it seems to me that all this animating and (yes!) deconstructing of objects is a great way to built the most fantastic crystal palace that will get destroyed once the applause indicates that the show is over. Am I talking music? Maybe. Duo Tham visualized grammar and moved through the mazes of syntaxis with their sounds much like Charlie Chaplin got lost in the machineries in his movie Modern Times. Flee marketed objects whistled and screamed, the table leg moaned and sighed, echoos of Debussy opened a window to nineteenth century colonial dreams. Anton looked ever more like Frankenstein, while Thomas next to him got deeper and deeper into the nerd’s universe of unidentified sonic objects.
The after show party at Simone’s Bar in the Sonnenallee where beer costed 1 euro,got me in a pensive mood for a short moment. I considered, if I could take the liberty to ask those friendly young frenchmen a question to which it was hard to say : “No.” But luckily they were pleasurably surprised and accepted my proposal. That’s how I got to play with them at Wendel. We played for almost 45 minutes. And could silence the crowd pretty soon, a thing which is quite hard to achieve in this bar where there is always some conversation islands to be found. Anton Mobin’s stage presence (his long solo with a balloon, spilling beer on it, throwing a cassette player in the audience) helped to focus the attention. The audio track is now awaiting approval. It might be published as a netrelease soon. I will keep you posted on that.
The morning after Adrian Shephard and I met up for an interview with Costes. Adrian’s way of conducting the interview went very well. Costes filled the hour with a wide variety of stories. Listen to it here.
When the 11th of September came near, Markus Schwill, the noise philospopher who had put up the conference at the cigar factory send out the message that the show got cancelled, but the floor of the factory’s basement got sweeped. One day later he texted us to an apartment deep down in Friedrichshain. The apartment looked absolutely intriguing, much like a defunct haunted house where Bluebeard had just left, or an artefact from early eighties Berlin, meticulously reconstructed as if Kusturica and his crew could rush in every moment. Here we found two young Danes worthy of Hamsun’s Hunger, a Japanese guitarist, Billy and Markus. Angie came later with her bag full of self built microphones. We did a nibble nibble kiss open rehearsal with an old radio as our loudspeaker. Markus judged it softpornmusic, before he lectured for a good hour and a half on Die Frage der Zeitgenossische Lärmmusik und das Verhältnis der Kantianischer Weltanschauung im Bezug zur Protestantischem Umwentlung der Familiären Strukturen in Nord Deutschland 1961 – 1963.
The day after I played with topmodel at Trickster. Read an eye witnnes review by NoHonestlyNews
The TopModel triangle holds for me, the attraction and horror of those Saturday evening tv shows ov olde with their cheap overdriven homage to the limitations of early casio keyboards (thankfully no 8 bit barking dogs). High frequency vocals from Mireia, something between how Siouxsie Sioux should have sounded and those arguments of the neighbours heard through my adjacent wall through a large plastic glass.TopModel remind me of an even earlier version of Portion Control with that fat bass underpinning their near chaotic concrete sculptures, – very Berlin!. They have a total non-performance position in this place sat amongst a side table in a dark corner with a lonely candle (for lighting those lcd displays no doubt). Their apparent disinterest for the audience gives an inpression that we are the invaders in their bedroom. Is this the new punk or too much net-landia? As the beats progress on a relentless knee bashing manner and they sink deeper into a critical soup trance I’m reminded of the advantage of dedicated intrumentation, there are no laptops here. We are a minimal audience, but, as the late great Tony Wilson once remarked , ‘how many were at the murder of Ceasar?’ five,” says Wilson. “The smaller the attendance, the bigger the history.” As they finish, the bar crossfades with – ‘ what a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you’ a suitable Lynchian ending to my evening.
On Monday 14. Ninah Pixie and dAS, together with Stefan from Troum and Drone records came to the Staalplaat Working Space. While dAS and Stefan were moving objects and catching other soundfiles Adrian Shephard and I spoke with Ninah about BCO’s life long career. The complete interview is here.
Nincaleece’s performance at topmodel’s trickster evening had raised some eyebrows among my experimentalist friends. To them experiments don’t include beats. On that saturday I sat listening to her, and to the sounds I didn’t hear. Nincaleece and I met first a long time ago at the house of Giorgia Angiuli. And our half serious half jokingly proposed collaboration was born on that moment. Jeudi Pop would be our name. Giorgia cancelled her flight. This made me remember I had a dusted phonogramme somewhere not so very far away on the shelves of my memory. All of a sudden it played Jeudi Pop. I heard it very clear, and maybe too clear.
Anne Cecile is a trained musician. She has a great voice as well. And she looks good, no doubt. I am not a trained musician, but I am a trained listener. What we both heard, or thought what we had heard while playing at NK on 15th, was not what we had imagined to hear. The immediate after-concert feeling was that we hadn’t produced the sounds we would have liked to. But then Ninah came walking past us, mumbling:”that was great, great, great.” And as the evening proceeded it rained more and more compliments and congratulation, which only left Anne Cecile and me looking at each other, mouth open, question marks evaporating from our brains. What we had understood, though, was that in some way or an other we would like to create a work that would unite field recordings, melodies, beats, noise and spoken word. Most of these ingredients are present in Luc Ferrari’s work. Yes, we would like to create the same calm, and the same sighs. Also Pierre Henry includes some disco in his compositions, but Heaven beware us of creating something as dull as that.
Ever since I have made a narrow escape into the 21st century I have been wondering why the modern day raconteurs, I mean that rare specimen, one time close to extinction, called a writer, or, even more hard to find, a poet, never made use of the fine sounds produced by the experimentalists to provide their reading with a sonic background. I know that the usurpers in the world of literature have almost succeeded in making that depiction meaningless, and that their background (a TV studio) was the legitimation for showing of with the emperor’s new clothes. I am not referring to them. I even don’t want to hear them.
In Berlin and in the networld resides Momus. Sometimes we meet. Sometimes we communicate very short. It reads a bit like this. “Hey Nick, Can you/would you like to play there and there, then and then?” Answers take 12 words. The resulting shows mostly twenty thousand more. As one of those old fashioned socialists, he doesn’t see himself as a rockstar who starts considering proposals from a certain standard upwards. That’s why he decends into the dungeons of showbiz and accepts an invitation by me to come along and do some life blogging.
A few days before this hagiography was published by The Guardian (=important English newspaper), Momus came to the Staalplaat Working Space to read some chapters from his book. I had suggested to him to do so while my radiophonic duo and Nick Reddel on violin would play on a low enough level to make his words still audible. Maybe the place would have been packed, if the article had appeared a few days earlier. Those who came to witness The Murder of Ceasar have heard and seen a very inspired Momus reading, no,… impersonating, no,… being – diabolis personas eo ipsum ad absurdum – the characters from The Book of Jokes, while we, together with his partner Hisae and her slides, helped to create the imaginary landscape where it all happened. The recordings will become available soon. Some pictures were taken on that evening, but I don’t know by whom.
I am sure six would have been okay as well to those who dress their words with wings. It was supposed to be a kind of Dutch evening at Marc’s Sowieso. The new poor dressed in their rags from Christmas stores were reduced to shadows on a windshield. The rain drums of afternoons spend in an Amsterdam caffee had silenced. A few friends had shown up. They didn’t understand a word of what we said. Not that we were so talkative. Big tables and benches cut from a catholic oak tree served for our temporarily explosion of little and bigger gadgets: buddha machines, canned sitar players, a four armed record player to produce some sunwheel sounds. We could have waited for ages, like the illuminated would have done. Kim Laugs was plucking through his audio cabinet as if he were ordering a pizza on line. As soon as we had agreed upon that the setting was perfect (after all there were two unknown couples whispering over their beers at two tables at the far away side of the bar) we embarked on our journey. Put a couple of Dutch together and you get endless talking. Geert Jan Hobijn had a couple of records with him he had bought in New Delhi. You could smell from the covers how long they’d been stored. Without even wanting to be post-nostalgic about the great past of our country we went to the far east, and managed to get back before midnight. Our concert lasted two hours. According to Guillaume, the experienced listener from Le Petit Mignon, the last thirty seconds of it were ‘really fucking fantastic.’ I don’t know if he told anyone.