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[ "Back to Berlin" is the title of the 11th edition of Raudio's mainstream. It contains extracts of the tapes found in Berlin, some isolated oddities and parts of the synth recording I made when visiting Berlin way back in 1984. All is centered around "Kentucky Freedom Chicken - The Master of Germany", a selection of several hundreds of extracts taken from the about 18 hours of field recordings that I made during and around das kleine field recordings festival in Berlin (monophonic using my dictaphone, and stereo on an MD recorder), between february 6th and february 13th of 2007 ... Now listen to this ... ]

Back to Berlin

[ 3_ii. reek or ]
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[ 1. "bo tunty te ...!" ] [ 2. found tapes ] [ 3_i. feelt ] [ 3_iii. dinges ]

april 12, 2007.

It is very well possible to argue that "[t]here are as many different ways of using and presenting field recordings as there are field recordists," as did Derek Holzer in the course of a short web discussion on the what's-should and what's-should-not of feelt reek or dinges. A discussion ( * ) that at times I may evoke, then swirl around, and kick it above as well as under the belt, hinting that for me it is black, while showing you that - on the other hand - it'd better be white ... I mean, well, I actually do not have an opinion on what feelt reek or dinges should or should not be, unless that be that it not should be anything ...

travelogue
travelogue
travelogue

Nevertheless. At this february's das kleine most performances could be situated somewhere on some (subjective) scale running from one to the other of two clearly distinguishable poles.
These roughly correspond to two possible ways of looking at that other word: phonography.

The first way is etymological: phonography as sound-writing, as a writing-with-sound.

The second one is analogical: phonography as a sound-equivalent to photography.

It is on and near the first pole, the sound-writing pole, where controversy tends to arise, and where many a heated and 'no winner' debate is taking place. It is there where structure gets added, and it is with added structure that music enters. Well, it may have been there already. But with the structure it somehow gets imposed. So, then, one may asked: is any 'structure + sound' necessarily music? As you may guess, answering a such question presupposes a definition of music. And any answer given will be relative to a notion of music.

So Pierre Schaeffer sincerely could state that his life's quest for a concrete music had failed, because after forty years he had come to the conclusion that in music "nothing is possible outside DoReMi", and his musique concrète "in its work of assembling sound, produces sound-works, sound-structures, but not music. We have to not call music things which are simply sound-structures," Schaeffer says ( ** ).
And, in a similar vein, certain contemporary phonographists talk about their attempts to stay far from a musical structuring of their sound material, and are consciously attempting to explore non-musical structures, structures inherent in the sound material, et cetera ...
But what is non-musical structuring supposed to mean? It will include avoiding beats, loops, repetitions, drones, I guess ... But then? Where does structuring of sound stop to be musical?

Fortunately most of the time (though not always) such 'methodo-philosophical considerations' were far from the minds of those performing at and/or attending das kleine, and one was content with just doing what one is supposed to (should) do with sounds: that is, listen to them.
wendel For presentations at or very near to the 'phonographs as sound pictures' pole, the 'issue' is mostly irrelevant.
Such were, for example, the presentations on the evening of the Archived Sounds, on saturday february 10th in Kunstprojektraum Takt.
Rob Curgenven took us along on his travels across his homeland, Australia, guided by an impressive show of successive 'sound slides', each of which came with its own story, its own anecdote; Nicolaas Weiser, a former scholastic of the order of the Jesuits in Berlin, took us on a tour of the landscapes populating the 'imaginary' country emanating from the private sound archive of a 75-year-old Jesuit named Christian Schmidt, who when Nicolaas still was part of the order, lived in the room next to him; and Gruenrekorder's Lasse-Marc Riek presented a truly wonderful collection of phonographs, moving and plein de magie, each of which was made outside or inside a church somewhere in Europe, and each of which lasted for precisely three minutes, counting from the moment Lasse-Marc arrived at the spot where he decided he would record, and pushed the button.

Also the Travelogues evening, on friday february 9th in the Club der Polnischen Versager, had us enjoy a decent dose of sonic photographs. you momus Among the 'phonographers' performing at the Club was Nick Currie, aka Momus, who had fed his iTunes with audio- and video footage shot during his stay(s) in Japan. Nick turned his laptop's screen towards us, and clumsily (but in a natural, charming way) led us here and there, pretty much the way many a neighbour or uncle returning from a trip abroad would have done.
I liked that. I also liked the blond curly wig he wore, the orange ear protectors dangling around his neck and the black pirate's eyepatch. Though of course it is not nice to be losing your hair, and it is not nice to have your hearing be damaged. And it is no fun to have lost the use of one's right eye ... This and that ... You may know Momus as a singer and writer of pretty smart'n'odd pop songs, the sort of which I guess many I'd really enjoy, given the time to listen to them ... Here and there ...

"I've actually damaged my ears, many of us have, with iPods and loud volumes at concerts, and I find that if I expose my ears now to loud sounds," Momus told us at the start of his presentation, "then I get a sound which is no sound, which is tinnitus ringing in my ears. So, when I was in New York last year I bought these [ear protectors] to protect my ears from the very loud sound of the subway, and I've actually become more and more interested in field recordings as a way to escape loud rock music ... But actually I noticed that field recordings artists have become more like rock musicians and they really want to make compositions that blow you away and lift you out of your skin, and are overwhelming ... so I've actually started wearing these [ear protectors] to even field recordings concerts ...."

This pretty much explains why it was the pop musician Momus that also in his writings ( *** ) about the pre-opening night of das kleine complained; about this rockmusicalisation of feelt reek or dinges performances, a rockmusicalisation, that is, a bombastification, a symphonication - if you excuse the gibberish, which though does sort of exemplify Nick's remark ... It is of course here that we leave the 'phonography as sound-pictures' pole, there where Momus will be almost sure to find that escape he seems to long for, and enter the realm of performers 'writing with sounds', which willy-nilly, though probably also depending on whose ears are listening, will have 'music' coming into play.

There are so many musics ...
Some of them are good. Some of them are bad.

Did I already mention Tobias Luther? ( xxxx ) Tireless Tobias lugged along a huge suitcase crammed with equipment, all over Berlin, up and down from Schöneweide to the ever changing locations where the das kleine evenings were taking place. Tobias recorded everything, and aired it on his radioINCORRECT. He moreover made the recordings available to other radio stations, and produced a fine two hour summary of the festival for ResonanceFM's Framework, giving an interesting overview of all that went on at das kleine.

So many musics ...

Music that I find difficult though to discern in the often obligatory laptop 'live mixes', that at some point become all pretty much interchangeable ... More walking, more stairs, more cars, and yes, together now with some sing song birds, some sea, a cow here or there, the ringing of bells and then the shivery rustle of autumn leaves ... it all quickly makes me loose interest, and has me think: "Gee, now, man ( ***** ), please make an effort and compose!" ...
Also the use of feelt reek or dinges as mere input to dsp, a battery of digital or other effects, which often results in the nature of the original recording losing all importance, as any odd recording might have served the same purpose, in general I find uninteresting. Just so I am very allergic to the abundant use of flanging, phasing, reverberation and delays ... (You maybe know that I started my musical life at a pretty early age as a prog rock guitar player, which at least partly will explain this 'allergy-through-overexposure' ...)

I find that music most forcefully and convincingly emanates in those sets where the performers drastically limit their (types of) material. And use it mostly unaltered ...
Let less become more ...
An example springing to mind is rauschpartikel's set on the second evening of Imaginary Homecoming, in Wendel, on wednesday february 7th, built using (nothing but) many different recordings of the sounds of his refrigerator ...
It kept me on the tip of my chair, listening.
I cannot swear to you that Martin did not use any effects or other alterations.
The fact that I can't pretty much says it all ...

- next: dinges -

notes __ ::
(*) For those interested in getting involved in or following such discussions, or if you need to write a term paper or a thesis, there are some fine yahoo groups to join, like phonography or soundasart ... You might also want to listen to the Phonography Panel Recording, made at the Edgetone Music Summit, in Oakland, CA on 29.07.2006, featuring Marcos Fernandes, Glenn Bach and Aaron Ximm, which is available from the Soundtransit website. [ ^ ]
(**) In an interview with Tim Hodgkinson, from april 1986, originally published in the ReR Quarterly ('What is Musique Concrète and why is it so important today?'). [ ^ ]
(***) In his livejournal blog ("Alejandra and Aeron: not bombastic"), and in his Wired column ("Artistic Ennui Is on the Menu"). [ ^ ]
(*****) Writing the word 'man' suddenly made me aware of how very male this das kleine has been, with Kate Donovan being the only female artist on board. [ ^ ]

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