HarSMedia

Touching base

december 24, 2011.

'... now learn to read time backward ...'

Hi there! Season's greetings!

Slowly surfacing again, after some four months of writing, in Dutch, my very personal account of the rise and fall of Ultra, the Dutch brand of experimental post-punk pop that swept Holland in the very early 1980s, and in which at the time I was deeply involved, as a musician, as an organizer and as an editor of Vinyl, the 'modern music' glossy that came into existence in the wake of this 'Ultra', a curious movement, that became something of a household name and for a short while made 'experimental wave' pretty fashionable in the Netherlands. But then fashion degenerated 'experiment' into some sort of superficial Blitz Kid synthi-pop thing.

Much of Ultra's mix of art and pop came to bloom in the misty and anarchic underworld of the Dutch squatters movement, that at the time provided a complex and highly efficient alternative infrastructure, settled in the many cracks and holes in our cities, from which, because of lack of money to restructure, renovate or rebuild, the 'overworld' that, much as it is now, was deeply in crisis, temporarily had retreated.
The 'squatters underworld' at the time provided free housing, rehearsal spaces, galleries, cheap printing facilities, free tools, furniture, heaters, refrigerators, a whole network of pirate radio stations ... even an artist run pirate television channel. This complex, anarchic underworld was, in a way, of course something of a 'parasite', as it was obviously fed by the 'overworld', which provided the many left behind buildings and residential areas that were occupied by the 'underworld', as well as the student grants, dole money and social welfare money that for most of the inhabitants of the 'underworld' was their main source of income.
But it convinced many of us, very deeply, that 'the world was all ours' indeed, and provided musicians and artists - for a short while - the means to take the post-punk credo to heart, very literally: we ripped it all up, and started again...

As my 'Ultra bible' is written in Dutch, this will concern only part of you. Nevertheless, all this hard work being done, and because for some it might be one more reason to learn Dutch and because the book will also be a great thing to look at: the book is published by Lebowski Publishers. Ultra. Opkomst en ondergang van de Ultramodernen (1978-1983) will appear on March 1st, accompanied by a lot of activities, that - as far as I am concerned - will hardly be of a 'nostalgic' or 'revival' nature. This is not a time to dwell in nostalgia. But it is - once again - a time in dire need of some ripping up and brand new starts ... (Click the picture below to have a look at the publisher's preview of the book.)

ultra preciew

Apart from writing, the only other thing I have been working on was, obviously, my ten-seconds-per-day audio diary for this year, Seventy Seconds, which continued to appear every sunday on the Dutch web daily Hard // Hoofd, together with a short text in Dutch, and a picture shot by photographer Pieter van Wynsberge. 'All work and no play ...' Just one more week to go. Recording these daily slots of audio over the year has become - as I had meant it to be - so much of a second nature, that it actually will be pretty difficult to, as of the 1st of January 2012, kick the habit ... During the Hard // Hoofd new year's party, at Kriterion in the Roetersstraat in Amsterdam, all 52 x Seventy Seconds will be playing continuously, both in the lady's and gentleman's rooms. Seventy Seconds in the Toilets, now that's the way I like it :-)

Meanwhile, I had to postpone other important things that badly need finishing. At the top of the list is A Table!'s (Topographic [Table) Topographique) album, the editing of which was left at 3/4, but which I will pick up again in Ghent in January, together with the Pianofabriek's ever so patient and able technician Sam van Ryssel.

kamer 13

I started writing Ultra early September, in sunny Tuscany, Italy, not far from Maremma, home to Il Giardino, Daniel Spoerri's sculpture park. What, of course, interested me most there, was the bronze replica of Chambre No. 13, the room in the Parisian Hotel Carcassonne where Spoerri lived in the early 1960s, and in which, at some time, was the small kitchen table that Jean-Jacques Duerinckx and I re-constructed last year. The table appeared not to be part of the replica room's inventory, though, so I do hope one day to be able to take it there, put it inside, and perform an A Table! concert inside Chambre No. 13.

kamer 13


SoundBlog entries related to our 2010 reconstruction of Daniel Spoerri's Carcassone table:

(june 06, 2013) - A Carcassonne Yodel in Blue [Kunsttour 2013]
(december 24, 2011) - Touching Base
(april 19, 2011) - (Topographic [Table) Topographique]
(september 26, 2010) - Bonjour Schiphorst! Farewell Blue Vase! [and then i joined the avantgarde {iii}]
(august 10, 2010) - Shake your booty (on the workfloor) [and then i joined the avantgarde {ii}]
(july 18, 2010) - From (h)ear to avantgarde
(june 10, 2010) - A kitchen table and a game of cards [KT2010, ii]
(june 04, 2010) - Table archaeology: unearthing the picture trap
(may 18, 2010) - Instant coffee and (b)[re](a)d wine (the Spoerri re:Table in Extrapool, Nijmegen)
(may 13, 2010) - attention! oeuvre d atable
(july 08, 2009) - Cover thyself ( * ) Petit tour de table, grande bouffe [iii]


So far for a bit of an update.

Next year will bring a lot of ULTRA, in a dynamic mix of old and new. Concerts, exhibitions, presentations, readings ... In Amsterdam, Brussels, Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Rotterdam. Much has been planned & fixed already, more still to be confirmed, much to look forward to, like, possibly, a number of performances of ookoi and A Table! together with Nasmak/Plus Instruments singer & performer Truus de Groot, the Queen of Ultra ... ookoi + Instruments / A Table! + Instruments ...

There were a number of previews of things to come already this month. On December 3rd, for the first time after 30 years minus 21 days, the Minny Pops did a short performance at Roodkapje in Rotterdam, alongside concerts by, among others, the young Rotterdam band Rats on Rafts and Spoelstra's mix of electro, country, sludge and noise. during a very lively and exciting Ultranieuwe evening with a dynamic mix of Ultra then and now.

The ookoi performed live on December 8th, during a Raudio Ultra special for Amsterdam's Red Light Radio, an online radio station broadcasting from a former prostitution window in the red light district of Amsterdam, while Claire sneak-previewed parts of my upcoming Ultra book.

red light radio


Two days later, on Sunday December 10th, Peter and I hopped over to Heerlen, and gave a sweeping triple presentation at the (h)ear 'Experimental Sounds Connected' festival: Geluid als taal en teken. Muziek als paal en perk.

'Rip it up, and start anew...'

So far, so good. We'll meet again. Next year.

hear 2011
hear 2011

tags: Ultra, ookoi, Daniel Spoerri

# .415.

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