By the Rivers of Wuppertal

I had been working on hiss and conceptual recordings for some days now. It served to capture the passing of days, and the ghost of the machine. One would need a lot of additional hearing to really get my point.

Then sunny days hit hard. We just had to go out. Voices of spirits are heard next to running water. There is a lot of water running through rivers and torrents in and around Wuppertal. The first day Barbara and I went to Solingen and its Morsbach. I didn’t hear spirits, and if I did they must have been driving cars and flying planes. I recorded water, a gathering of flowers, recreational car drivers.

From there it took us to the Wupper. Still in Solingen, native town to Pina Bausch we went to one of the most remarkable constructions in wrought iron of the region: Müngstener Brücke. It is not built, constructed, designed by Gustave Eiffel, but by a German engineer, Anton von Rieppel. The Kaiser himself came to open it. Up there.

It is technically possible to play the bridge as if it were an instrument. Every modern day Orpheus dreams of it. Today other things are more important. Up to a few years ago the area under the bridge was kind of rough: an obscure bar for some gothic disco conspiracies, a place to park your car at night, a little bar for wurst and beer, everything but a place for a family outing on a week-end. It has changed. Barbara called the result ‘Absolutistisch.’ But we looked up.

We walked to the end of the newly designed landmark. There we had a better view on the river and the valley. I also could see the place where I would make my next recording.

The following day Barbara said:”Düssel!”
The word sounded a bit like a missing link in a long line of beer brewing activities. Düssel could be a good tasting beer. It was a river. In Düsseldorf it looks like a big river. Not in Neandertal.

In a way this was a visit behind the wings of world history. The Neandertal man, his wife as well, are known world wide. But at some point in history someone had to find them: Johann Carl Fuhlrott.

What to say? Maybe this report can help your imagination.

The third day we wanted to do one thing, but ended up doing an other thing; the parking space at Müngstener Brücke was überfull. We made a big round, witnessed a road restaurant near the Wupper where at least one hundred bikers had gathered at their weekly meeting. A little loop further, at the other side of the river we heard an AC/DC cover band start their concert. On we went. Somewhere another torrent was waiting for us.

What I didn’t know when I made this recording, was the historic significance of the exact place. It was once the site of a small steel mill and forgery. The steel plates got hammered upon. I made the recording where once was the Thomashammer. There were still pieces of slag to be found. It was not the only ‘hammer’ along the Gelper Bach. One can imagine what the valley had sounded like one hundred years ago. This day it was different.


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