Posts Tagged ‘minimalism’

Echo (Succession)

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Echo (Succession), 11 am, 2010

The staircase

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

In 1963 Akio Suzuki was employed in a Tokyo architect’s office. While designing staircases, he realises that his drawings looked like the lines of a musical stave. “How would it be” he says ” if I could make a staircase that wouldn’t tire you out, that would be a pleasure to use? If I could make a perfect staircase that looked like a stave, then I could drop ping pong balls or tin cans down the stairs and they would make a beautiful sound.”

 

Akio Suzuki in WIRE – Acoustic tricksters, May 2003

Hans-Joachim Roedelius

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

HANS-JOACHIM ROEDELIUS – Ex Animo by Fabrique Records

Hans-Joachim Roedelius (born October 26, 1934 in Berlin) is a German experimental, ambient and electronic musician. He is best known as a co-founder of the krautrock groups Cluster and Harmonia.

In 1968 Roedelius co-founded the music commune known as “Human Being” and co-formed Zodiak Free Arts Lab, the center of Berlin‘s Underground Culture at the time, with conceptual artist Conrad Schnitzler. He met Dieter Moebius at the Zodiak. In 1970 Roedelius, Schnitzler and Moebius formed Kluster.

In 1971 Schnitzler left the group to start a long-running solo career and Moebius and Roedelius anglicised the band’s name to Cluster.
At first Cluster worked along the same lines as their parent group, signed first to Philips then to Brain. In 1974, they worked with Neu! guitarist Michael Rother for the first time.

British musician Brian Eno, who had become a fan of both Cluster and Harmonia, joined them for several jams, the result of which was released in 1997 as Tracks & Traces.

Rother left Harmonia to pursue his solo career and Cluster returned to the studio to record Sowiesoso which was released on Sky Records. Brian Eno, who had returned to Germany to work with David Bowie, improvised two albums worth of music with Cluster: 1977′s Cluster & Eno and 1978′s After the Heat, the latter of which gained the band much attention in the British music press.

Roedelius’ solo career began with Durch die Wüste in 1978 and then Jardin au Fou in 1979.

This album laid down Roedelius’ future style: melodic piano and (often faked) acoustic instruments played with a sharp tinge of electronics.

The first of the lengthy Selbstportrait series was released in 1979, being outtakes from his work with Cluster and Harmonia, without the input of his collaborators. Consisting of only two tracks and recorded very unprofessionally, the Selbstportraits make up the backbone of Roedelius’ early solo recordings.

Leaving Sky in 1982, his work took a more New Age style as he signed to Virgin’s Venture sub-label. During this period, his best selling solo album Geschenk des Augenblicks – Gift of the Moment was released.

He was dropped by Venture in 1989 and began releasing on a variety of small labels, notably Multimood and Prudence. He began to venture into the newly emerging genre of techno, starting with 1991′s Der Ohrenspiegel, whose 25-minute opener, Reflectorum displays some of the characteristics of the later Sinfonia Contempora series.
By 1994 Roedelius’ style was a heady mix of amateur electronics and sometimes clichéd ambient jazz. An album from this year; Theatreworks, was rewarded with the title “album of the month” by experimental music magazine The Wire.

Arguably the biggest turning point in Roedelius’ career came in 1994.
The release of Sinfonia Contempora No. 1: Von Zeit zu Zeit marked, in Roedelius’ own words: “Since the beginning of my career nothing was more important to me than to find my own musical language. I have, so I believe, eventually found it.” The album consists of mismatched tape fragments (from numerous jams ranging from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties) multitracked over the top of each other to create a disjointed but oddly musical sound.

Sinfonia Contempora No. 2: La Nordica (Salz Des Nordens) was released in 1996, making for a much more sinister and muddy sound than its predecessor. Also released in this period was Selbstportrait VI: The Diary of the Unforgotten, the first of the modern Selbstportraits.
Now, rather than merely remastering the seventies DAT tapes, Roedelius also played over them, the sound montage Homage á Forst samples many Harmonia and Cluster tracks into the mix.

The turn of the century was Roedelius’ most productive year, an astonishing eight albums being released between 2000 and 2001. Reprising the Selbstportrait series for the seventh time in 2000, Roedelius composed entirely new tracks for the first time on Selfportrait VII: dem Wind voran – ahead of the wind.

Another series is Lieder vom Steinfeld. Begun in 1995, Roedelius recites poems over these pieces, primarily in his native German dialect.
In 2001 Roedelius worked with Conrad Schnitzler again for the first time since 1971. The independently released and extremely rare Acon 2000/1 was the result.

Roedelius had been growing substantially in fame since Cluster began touring again in 1996.
He is now often cited by electronic musicians and releases several albums a year, many of which are collaborations with modern musicians who are fans.

Phill Niblock

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Phill Niblock

After an early period studying economics (BA, Indiana University, 1956) Niblock came to New York in 1958. Initially he worked as a photographer and filmmaker. Much of this activity centered around photographing and filming jazz musicians. Thereafter he made a number of films in a series titled The Movement of People Working. Filmed in primarily rural environments in many countries (China, Brazil, Portugal, Lesotho, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, the Arctic, Mexico, Hungary, the Adirondacks, Peru), the films look at everyday work, frequently agrarian or marine labor. LargeThese films are remarkable for their realistic quality and absence of artifice, their use of long takes in high resolution and their supposedly artless juxtaposition of compelling images in vivid colors. These scenes of the movement of human manual labor are treated abstractly without explicit anthropological or sociological meaning. As in the music, a surface slowness is countered by an active, varied texture of rhythm and form of body motion within the frame; this is what Niblock himself considers the ultimate subject matter of his films.

Niblock’s first musical compositions date from 1968. Unusually, even among the avant-garde composers of his generation, he has no formal musical training. He cites the musical activities of New York in the 1960s as a stimulus (and occasional memorable performances, such as the premiere of Morton Feldman‘s Durations pieces). All his compositions are worked out intuitively rather than systematically. His early works were all done with tape, overdubbing unprocessed recordings of precisely tuned long tones played on traditional instruments in four, eight, or sixteen tracks. Since the late 1990s his music has been created with computer technology, notably with Pro Tools on a Macintosh computer. His later works are correspondingly more dense in texture, sometimes involving as many as forty tracks.

Niblock’s music is an exploration of sound textures created by multiple tones in very dense, often atonal tunings (generally microtonal in conception) performed in long durations. The layering of long tones only very slightly distinct in pitch creates a multitude of beats and generates complex overtone patterns and other fascinating psychoacoustic effects. The combination of apparently static surface textures and extremely active harmonic movement generates a highly original music that, while having things in common with early drone-based Minimalism, is utterly distinct in sound and technique. Niblock’s work continues to influence a generation of musicians, especially younger players from a variety of musical genres.

Niblock’s compositional process often begins with recordings of single, absolute tones played by a specific musician with the breathing and attack edited out. Such collaborations have been crucial to his composing life, and the range of musicians with whom he has worked include David Gibson, in the cello works of the 1970s); Petr Kotik, Susan Stenger, and Eberhard Blum, on Four Full Flutes; Rafael Toral, David First, Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, Susan Stenger, and Robert Poss on Guitar Too, for Four (G2,44+1×2); Ulrich Krieger, Carol Robinson, Kaspar T. Toeplitz, and Reinhold Friedl, on Touch Food; and many others. Since 2003, Niblock has frequently toured and collaborated with electro-acoustic improviser Thomas Ankersmit. In the past decade he has produced several works for orchestra: Disseminate, Three Orchids (for three orchestras), Tow for Tom (for two orchestras), and 4 Chorch +1, the latter a commission for the Ostrava Music Days 2007 for chorus and orchestra with solo baritone (Thomas Buckner).

In performance, live musicians may play, wandering through the audience changing the sound texture through reinforcement of or interference with the existing tunings. Simultaneously, Niblock generally accompanies performances by presenting his films and videos (often those from the Movement of People Working series, or computer-driven, black-and-white abstract images floating through time). These performances fall into two types: (1) an installation of several hours’ duration, with the music pieces played consecutively, with a long loop of several hours of work before repetition, and with multiple images that are shown simultaneously; or (2) a performance, with several simultaneous works of music and film, usually lasting between one and three hours. In these performances Niblock generally projects three (or more) film images simultaneously, on large screens three to four meters wide. The films are 16mm and color. The music is produced from stereo or quad tapes, with four or more speakers in the corners of the space. His more recent video pieces are played individually or with several simultaneously, using large video monitors.

Since 1985, Niblock has been the director of the Experimental Intermedia Foundation in New York where he has been an artist-member since 1968. In 1994, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. He is the producer of music and Intermedia presentations at EI since 1973 (about 1,000 performances) and the curator of EI’s XI Records label. In 1993, he opened a house with window gallery at Sassekaai 45 in Ghent, Belgium, and, in 1997, the coordinating committee—Phill Niblock, Maria Blondeel, Zjuul Devens, Lieve D’hondt, and Ludo Engels—founded a Belgian organization, the Experimental Intermedia v.z.w., Ghent. He taught at the College of Staten Island, a CUNY school, from 1971 to 1998.

Phill Niblock’s music is available on the XI, Moikai, Mode Records, and Touch Music labels. A double-sided DVD of films and music, lasting nearly four hours, is available on the Extreme label.

External links

 

 

 

 

Polish Exploratory Music

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Polish Exploratory Music in London

November 2010, two-day festival of exploratory music and trans-idiomatic improvisation with some of the most interesting and vibrant musical agitator’s from the Polish underground at Cafe Oto in London.
‘The strangeness of existence: Polish Visions in sound from Witkacy to Scianka’ is a heightened audio reverberation of Biba Kopf’s journey from Warsaw to Krakow tracing roots back to the Solidarity movement of the 1980s, via indigenous variations of post-punk, No Wave, and avant garde sounds’.

ROBERT PIOTROWICZ (analogue synthesizer, electronics)
ZENIAL (electronics)
EMITER

and more…

 

 

 

 

 

Félix González-Torres

Monday, November 15th, 2010

 

Gonzalez-Torres grew up in Puerto Rico before moving to New York City.
He had his first one-man exhibition of his early text pieces in 1988 at the Rastovsky Gallery (560 Broadway) in Soho.

His work was the focus of several major museum solo exhibitions in his lifetime and after his death.
Gonzalez-Torres was known for his quiet, minimal installations and sculptures. Using materials such as strings of lightbulbs, clocks, stacks of paper, or packaged hard candies, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s work is sometimes considered a reflection of his experience with AIDS.

He was also considered within his time to be a process artist due to the nature of his ‘removable’ installations by which the process is a key feature to the installation. Many of Gonzalez-Torres’s installations invite the viewer to take a piece of the work with them: a series of works allow viewers to take packaged candies from a pile in the corner of an exhibition space, while another series consists of stacks of ultrathin sheets of clear plastic or unlimited edition prints, also free for the viewer to take.

VeniceUS.jpg

Some of these installations are replenished by the exhibitor as they diminish.
The most pervasive reading of Gonzalez-Torres’s work takes the processes his works undergo (lightbulbs expiring, piles of candies dispersing, etc.) as metaphor for the process of dying. Other readings include the issue of Public versus Private, Identity, and participation in contemporary art. One of his most recognizable works, Untitled (1991) was a billboard installed in twenty-four locations throughout New York City of a monochrome photograph of an unoccupied bed, made after the death of his lover, Ross, to AIDS.

In one interview, he said “When people ask me, ‘Who is your public?’ I say honestly, without skipping a beat, ‘Ross.’ The public was Ross. The rest of the people just come to the work.”

Gonzalez-Torres died in 1996 due to AIDS related complications. In May 2002, the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation was created.

In 2007, he was selected as the United States’ official representative at the Venice Biennale.

 

 

 

 

candyart Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Arvo Pärt

Monday, November 8th, 2010

 

 

Arvo Pärt is often identified with the school of minimalism and, more specifically, that of mystic minimalism or holy minimalism.[4] He is considered a pioneer of this style, along with contemporaries Henryk Górecki and John Tavener.[5] Although his fame initially rested on instrumental works such as Tabula Rasa and Spiegel im Spiegel, his choral works have also come to be widely appreciated.

Pärt’s oeuvre is generally divided into two periods. His early works ranged from rather neo-classical styles influenced by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Bartók. He then began to compose using Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique and serialism. This, however, not only earned the ire of the Soviet establishment, but also proved to be a creative dead-end. When early works were banned by Soviet censors, Pärt entered the first of several periods of contemplative silence, during which he studied choral music from the 14th to 16th centuries.[3] In this context, Pärt’s biographer, Paul Hillier, observed that “He had reached a position of complete despair in which the composition of music appeared to be the most futile of gestures, and he lacked the musical faith and will-power to write even a single note.”

The spirit of early European polyphony informed the composition of Pärt’s transitional Third Symphony (1971); and thereafter, he immersed himself in early music, re-investigating the roots of Western music. He studied plainsong, Gregorian chant, and the emergence of polyphony in the European Renaissance.

The music that began to emerge after this period was radically different. This period of new compositions included Fratres, Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten, and Tabula Rasa.[3] Pärt describes the music of this period as tintinnabuli — like the ringing of bells. Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) is a well-known example which has been used in many films. The music is characterised by simple harmonies, often single unadorned notes, or triads, which form the basis of Western harmony. These are reminiscent of ringing bells. Tintinnabuli works are rhythmically simple and do not change tempo. Another characteristic of Pärt’s later works is that they are frequently settings for sacred texts, although he mostly chooses Latin or the Church Slavonic language used in Orthodox liturgy instead of his native Estonian language. Large-scale works inspired by religious texts include St. John Passion, Te Deum, and Litany. Choral works from this period include Magnificat and The Beatitudes.[3]

Of his popularity, Steve Reich has written:”Even in Estonia, Arvo was getting the same feeling that we were all getting. [...] I love his music, and I love the fact that he is such a brave, talented man. [...] He’s completely out of step with the zeitgeist and yet he’s enormously popular, which is so inspiring. His music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion.” Pärt’s music came to public attention in the West, largely thanks to Manfred Eicher who recorded several of Pärt’s compositions for ECM Records starting in 1984.

In response to the murder of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow on 7 October 2006, Pärt declared that all his works performed in 2006–2007 would be in honour of her death:
“Anna Politkovskaya staked her entire talent, energy and—in the end—even her life on saving people who had become victims of the abuses prevailing in Russia.”
— Arvo Pärt