while in Amsterdam ...

july 09, 2005.

jump:[[- tape that | lugubrum + sunn0))) | rietveld | found | mark bain -

< 1 > ... on monday evening, june 27th, I biked over to the Overtoom for that evening's 'Kraakgeluiden' event (the last one before the summer break), in OT301, the former building of the Amsterdam film academy. Properly 'coiffed', costumed and 'tied up' (only their shoes did seem oddly 'off code'), Koen Nutters and Christophe Meierhans (Tape That) presented their 'Catalogue of Flat Hits'. 'Flat', as in 'apartment', that is ... or as opposed to 'thick' ... ? ... and 'hit' ... as in 'a catchy popular tune' ... or rather as in 'slap' or 'stroke' ... ? ... I guess we just should soup all of these together. In view of Tape That's performance, somehow thát does seem to be the appropriate semantics ...


Tape That's catalogue (available in the form of a handy illustrated 'read along' hand-out at the concert) listed 125 numbered items, like: arrows and consequences [4], cookies and pan with drill [24], fast dishwashing and chewing gum plastic [44], paper ripping and vegetables [71], ring and spooncup tremolo [84], vegetables and sucked hands [121] ... For the presentation they used a (probably randomly generated) permutation of this catalogue list, which served as the performance's 'score'. All 125 (I suppose) flat hits were 'played' in the order dictated by the 'score'. Seated behind a small table, Christophe Meierhans used a collection of pre-recorded sound samples on his laptop, while Koen Nutters used a microphone, his voice, his hands and divers 'flat/hit' objects to produce 'hit/flat' sounds. Each 'flat hit' thus was presented as a micro-duet for laptop and noise maker (each on the average lasted about ten seconds). Good sound theatre it was, brought forward with the seriousness that a such cataloguing - file and order - enterprise demands. At times somewhat lacking in performative discipline, though. Which reminds me that it also did cross my mind at several points that Tape That should delete some of the items that seemed to me being well past their expiration date; and while at it, they also should replace the near-doublures on their list with specimen more worthy to partake in this ongoing inventory of the resplendent multitude of flat sound-ings ... Careful! We'll be checking this ... Their next presentation might be exemplary.

jump:[[- tape that | lugubrum + sunn0))) | rietveld | found | mark bain -


< 2 > The following evening (tuesday june 28th) in Paradiso on the Weteringschans, after having uttered 'the magic word' at the entrance, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a cheerful lot of - mostly dutch and belgian - headbangers, beating their black t-shirted breasts and banging their mostly long-locked heads to the heavy-fuzzed-guitars-bass-drums showers of - belgian - black metallists Lugubrum. (The band also included a saxophone player, who was blowing his lungs out, but - though god knows I tried and that he was in there somewhere - not once did I manage to discern him within the fabric of L.'s gloomy curtains of sound ...) Now I can't remember having ever before in my life attended a 'heavy' metal concert, let alone a 'black' metal one ... So this definitely was a new experience. I don't know whether I'll be repeating it, but this time I actually did enjoy it. Pretty loud, and sort of (again) fun theatre. And all of this energy released ... must be a cure for something ... therapeutic, absolutely ...

sun o)))
sun o)))

Were one to ask me to abstract Lugubrum's sound as I heard it in Paradiso in five keywords or less, I would choose: loud, dense, metallic, slow. It's not unlikely that these characteristics were why they were there in the first place, being the opening act for that tuesday's main attraction, sunn0))), which was the actual reason I had been told to get myself down to Paradiso, and speak the magic word. For, were one to ask me to abstract sunn0)))'s sound as I heard it in Paradiso in five keywords or less, I would again chose the ones above, then add to each the same, one, adjective: 'extremely' ... Sunn0))), so I learned at their web site, is a (side) project of Steve O'Malley and Greg Anderson. The duo invites various guest players, to join them in their on stage 'drone rituals'. In Paradiso they were joined by three others, of which I'm afraid I can only name you with certainty Oren Ambarchi (see picture).
Sunn0))) performed their drumless ritual lined up in front of a wall of Marshall amplifiers; it involved lots of red light, smoke, bottles, masks and monk's habits. I could have done without these. Soit ... It nevertheless was a fascinating spectacle. Imagine a thirty second long intro to a metal track stretched, (without pitch distortion), to last ... for how long? ... one hour, two? I actually do not know. I found it impossible to tell how long this - one - piece went on ... slowly building up tension, and sustaining it, on its way to a climax that seemed ever more unavoidable, but nonetheless did not arrive. Never. No climax. Meanwhile the extremely loud and low sounds shook the building and all that were in it. Very literally. This being 'vibration art' as much as it (of course) was music. The performance roughly had a three part structure, of which I preferred the (relatively) softer and less 'metallic' middle part, performed as a duo by Oren Ambarchi to the extreme right of the scene, and a second player to the extreme left.
Some of the - apparently more experienced - listeners around me started stuffing their ears with earplugs as soon as the sunn monks came onto the stage. And at some points I did wish I had brought them along as well (I had been warned ...). But somehow I think sunn0))) actually did feel much louder than they really were ... (The sound level meter installed near the mixing console in the back of the hall always indicated a sound pressure of between 105 and 109 decibels (dBA). Now I do not know precisely how and where this was being measured, but 'objectively', this is not higher than the sound pressure in an average night club.)

jump:[[- tape that | lugubrum + sunn0))) | rietveld | found | mark bain -

matras Sarah Engelhard

< 3 > Friday, july 1st, I joined Peter M. for a visit to the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, on the morning after the opening of this year's 'graduation show', Exit 2005. Good to walk around there and discover the (many) works of the (many) young artists graduating this year, framed within the disorder and void of a 'morning-after-party' art school. We had planned a one and a half hour 'tour', before continuing to Paradiso (we'll be doing an 'open air' mini placard in Paradiso's 'back garden' later this month ...) Far too little time to be able to even glance at everything, of course. Even hardly enough to only have a look at all projects of the 'Voorheen Audio Visueel' graduates, which (Peter being both an ex-graduate and ex-teacher of precisely that department) had our special interest. Lots of good work there. Of the 35 VAV graduates, let me just mention some that caught my attention (though I most surely did miss some others) ... Tijmen Hauer ('MTV makes me want to smoke crack too' [video]), Michael Ebert ([audio]), Chaja Hertog's instruMEN... and, of course!, Sarah Engelhard's 'found objects' pictures [I'll never forget her amazing series of 'live sized garbage mattresses' photographs ...]

jump:[[- tape that | lugubrum + sunn0))) | rietveld | found | mark bain -

< 4 > Early next morning, on saturday july 2nd, in the van Ostadestraat I picked up a piece of paper, numbered "1", with a text written in ball point (blue) on the back. The paper was a printed form with the heading of the remand prison ('Huis van Bewaring') in Zeist, on which detainees can formulate an official request (for many different things; one may choose to address the request to one (or several) of: 'Afdelingshoofd, BSD, Badmeester, Kassier, BVA, Medische dienst, Geestelijke verzorging, Maandcommissaris'). The hand written text on the back of the form was (the start of) a poem (in Dutch):

Morgen is al aan het sterven

als ik ontwaak
en de gordijnen open schuif
l iggen daar
de ochtend gloren opgebaard

en zie ik door hen schemeren
als ik knipper met m'n ogen
kale botten
die straks door de middag steken
en 's avonds glinsteren de wormen
die altijd hongerig nog kleven
aan de beenderen die resteren
en langzaam verdoofd de wind
van verdampende stoffelijke resten
mijn slaap,

Mathilde on Eiffel Tower

A minute later, just around the corner, from the pavement in the Dusartstraat I picked up a postcard of a Peter Lindbergh photo ("Mathilde on Eiffel Tower") on the back of which was written:

Laten we samen turen
In de verte
En contouren inkleuren

Donderdag naar de sauna?

jump:[[- tape that | lugubrum + sunn0))) | rietveld | found | mark bain -

bain poster

< 5 > Second. Sunday july 3rd. And last chance to experience Mark Bain's 'Sonica', first in 'Onderbrekingen', a subseries of a series of 'cultural events' inside the numerous excavations and trenches disfiguring the center of Amsterdam ... [Those of you that have visited Amsterdam in the past couple of years will know just how badly the Dutch capital has been hit by excavations. In several parts it indeed looks like being nothing but excavation. And it will continue to be like this for many years to come, due to the extravagant and extremely costly works undertaken - despite many protests, lack of money, and surely against the wish of large parts of the city's population - to (slightly) extend the city's underground system ... 'Leve de Bouwput' (meaning "Long live the excavation!") is a council funded association whose main aim obviously is to improve the 'image' of these generally very badly viewed on-dragging public works by every now and them turning them into a 'theatre' for arts, music, performance ... Guess you'll sense the 'moral issue' here ... Should one, as an artist, let oneself be seduced by the (admittedly interesting) possibilities (of unusual and unique locations for work) offered? And should one, as a visitor, go along and thus accept (entrance: free) what obviously are 'council sops' ...? ] ...

Mark Bain Sonica
Mark Bain Sonica
Mark Bain Sonica

Mark Bain's Sonica took place during the afternoons (12:00-17:00) of two weekends, in front of the Rijksmuseum, in one of the 40 'bergbezinkbassins' that currently are being constructed in Amsterdam. These are intended to function as 'buffers' in periods of heavy rain, and should help to avoid overflow of the sewer system into the city's canals, which - because of all the dirt and garbage that goes with the 'overflow' - apparently is an important source of pollution. I tried to go, see, hear and feel 'Sonica' already on saturday, but failed to do so, as at that time the little lift that should take one down there was not functioning. Early sunday afternoon it did work, though, and I went down the narrow hole, into the four meters deep underground space. The space was divided into two 'rooms'. In the middle of the first one, there was a rack with four sewer pipes, in which Bain installed loud speakers through which he played back recordings of the Amsterdam canals that he made using underwater microphones. In the second room one came upon a high-pressure stream of water, illuminated by strobe lights, which actually gave me the impression of having arrived in an oversized toilet, and witnessing a giant urinating ... An impressive space ... and there were some good sounds ... masses of richly reverberating, liquidy and rumbling noise ... vibrating ... sub-audible, like sunn0))), but less neurotic ... almost relaxed ...
In hindsight, though, wasn't it all somewhat too obvious ...?
I would have liked to have emerged nurturing more of a feeling of surprise, really.
As it was, I found precisely what I had expected to find down there.

[ If you're visiting Amsterdam: upon arrival, grab yourselves a copy of the free (anglophonic) Amsterdam Weekly for tips and a complete list of worthwhile things to do, hear and see. ]

tags: Amsterdam, Paradiso, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, found footage, Marc Bain

# .165.

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