News about the 4th edition of the Festival that will take place in Berlin all through the year 2008. The information about the former editions that were held on 22-26 november 2006, 13-22 february 2007 and 1-29 august, 2007 are still to be found somewhere in the jungle of this blop.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Still Life of Thoughts ( a kind of essay)


Let's pretend, and call this piece of writing you are about to read an essay. It is important to masquerade one's thoughts. What goes up the chimney right now is meant to be smoke for some of you, and some kind of gas to others. Fuel? Hardly.

Reading some of Momus' blog entries on post-modernism, Derek Holzer's latest blog entries (second half of 2008), and Francisco Lopez' 'against the stage', caused collateral effects on my daily metaphysical digestion system.

I owe some knowledge to the books on metabletics by Jan Hendrik van de Berg.

Perilous Persil

Momus' view that the post-modern period started with a book by Barthes on Persil and other objects and ended fifty years later with a quote on Persil by Victoria Beckham, brought to mind the books by one of The Netherlands' most underestimated writers. Van de Berg, the inventor of metabletics, stated that changes in society started with single events and that it would take forty years to have the thoughts generally accepted. Hence I doubted the period of fifty years. With Elvis as another onlooker it was easy to accept the publishing of Barthes' book as one of the markers of the beginning of an era. If van de Berg was right the end should be situated in the mid nineties. Personally I think the massive hysteria around princess Diana's death and its peak in bad taste, Elton John's mourning song, serve as a fine apotheosis.

Barthes published his book in 1957, the height days of existentialism. I don't know what the girls were like right then, but I have some serious suspicion that they must have been pretty bored by all the endless discussions going on. Talking about Persil might have guaranteed Barthes to get laid every now and then. Of course he discussed other topics as well. He did so in a time that television did not broadcast twenty four hours a day on numerous channels around the world. Tragically when post modernists invented themselves television was everywhere and in the most beautiful colours. It was not only omnipresent, but it was also inventing, shaping and exploring life styles. It was and is forever discussing Persil and other objects. Barthes was a visionary in foreseeing what would occupy the TV editors mind up to today.

In short, in TV-land events occur in a linear process: cause and effect. In this constellation strategies fit in perfectly. Add some decisive restrictions on moral issues and one can almost visualize the manager. Post modernism as in new nihilism brought us the soft revolution of the editors. In the years after the funeral of Barbie politicians like Blair and Schröder represented the office stud who kicked all those emancipated women back into the centerfold of Playboy.

Post Mortem

You don't need religion to believe in God. In post-modern times the authority of culture, politics, and other institutions vanished. In these globalist times friends and interests are either a flight, an email, or a few clicks away. An almost insurmountable distance away are those institutions that have replaced the institutions. One can get an idea of the fortress character of this newly created centre of decisions and thoughts every time a G8 conference occurs.

Irony was one of the main weapons of the post-modernist that made the mountains of authority crumble. It was a bit harder to be ironic with the ironics. Now, in a time that the word 'post-modern' leaves the doors of the Vatican to invade the ears of US-Citizens, and is meant to bother the greatest role model for future times to come, the absolute idol of every self proclaimed talent that washes upon the shores of television, now that the word 'post-modern' is used in an indirect dialogue between a religious leader and the next president of the United States, now that this word has landed on everyman's breakfast table, one can state that post-modernist thinking, is integrated in our culture.

Still, the ex-postmodernists insist on nominating the new era in post-modern terms. A not at all so funny thing is that they do it in their own language. In fact it is this absurd language that serves as a wall and a fortress. Move in it, speak it, write it, sympose, essay, catalogue with it and be sure to cash in with it. A maybe a bit more funny thing is that, apart from God, the western culture, literature, monarchs, political leaders, education, outside the fortress also intelligence itself is no longer a means to justify an authoritarian position. The new authorities are since a long time making a fool of themselves. And with every new heavily sponsored event they make themselves even more ridiculous. Unfortunately they reside within the institutions and even more unfortunately my colleagues in the poverty zone don't have any other choice then to learn gibberish.


Elvis and his likes also initiated youth culture. In the following decades music was consecutively optimistic, intellectual, rebellious, elegantly pessimistic and exotic. After 'goodbye English rose' youth culture got more and more independent of any institution except of those that exist in the internet and on TV. In this optic there is no postmodernism or whatever –ism that defines the second half of the last century. The (technical) developments of that era are also a result of the raise in pocket money. With wisdom being a quality of the aged, it is a bit striking that youth culture is extended into the retirement zone. I (1956) don't have to feel old, as long as Mick Jagger is alive. Maybe we are living in pantheistic times (as in Peter Pan), or even pre-pantisocratical times (as in 'everybody should wear the same panties').

The Executioner – an Analysis of 'Against the Stage'

On The Official Francisco Lopez Website one can find a caption:"essays." I don't know if in nominating his website the official website, Francisco has been ironic. Consequently I cannot judge if the few items he wrote were ironically called "essay." The official Frank Sinatra Website doesn't sound more pompous thanks to Francisco's intervention.

As a result of the editors revolution also the publishing houses have been ethnically cleaned: don't think a new Isaiah Berlin will raise from the ashes. There is no more need to ironize the works of the scholars and call a note an essay. Now that the post-modernists occupy the offices of the institutions and act like the new rulers, an essay title appearing in an application form is a convincing argument to spend money on the artist who wrote it.

On this thin line between irony and bank account I really don't know if Francisco Lopez' considerations should be taken seriously or not. I once saw him end a performance in Valencia (I was too late) and there he was in a kind of class room, behind a big long desk. The other opportunity was at a performance in Warsaw where he was not on the stage before me, but behind me at the DJ desk, mixing two CD..s. I reasoned "If you don't want to be on the stage, I don't have to be in the audience." More over, it was a fine summer evening and my great friend Jeff Surak was in the courtyard; I hadn't seen him in years.

Basically what Francisco tries to make clear in his letter to the editor is that he wants to play in front of the speakers, so that no technician will have control over the sound. What follows after this statement is a description of his set up. Best is to take a look at the video clip to get an idea.

Honestly, this image made me think of Breughel's Tower of Babylon, some of Hieronymus Bosch' paintings, but also of Darth Vader and a scene from a movie by Pasolini (maybe Decamerone) in which from a gigantic arse numerous black butterflies escape together with a well tempered fart.

Francisco Lopez is in the very centre of this scene. He writes: "Not that I'm aiming at doing something popular, but I can feel I'm tapping some of the universal powers of sonic matter in an intensified way. I actually feel that most of these powers are out of my control. I personally feel transformed by the experience in the live shows. There I enter a world I cannot reach in any other way I know of."

These are words that could be associated to religious ecstasy. Lopez, the de Loyola of electronic music? A further quotation could confirm this guess. "Disappearing as performer, felt present as medium operator, felt as such in the sound."

I have experienced some surround sound concerts. I found them highly irritating. The perfected sound is at those few square feet right in the centre. It provokes a sensation of unrest, simply because every other position is always out of centre.

But hey, this is all about post-modernism, right? The word 'iconoclastic' is prominent on the official website. What is so iconoclastic about this iconic appearance Francisco Lopez got immersed in over the last years? I cannot believe it is just a gimmick which masquerades the fact that the artist stripped bare to the stage is a guy mixing two cd-'s with the help of two cd-players and a mixing desk.

Maybe the next rather ill-omened, curiously Gnostic quote can shed some light:"(…) darkness lights up regions of the mindscape and the spirit that are normally dormant and darkened by (…) light"

The whole set up is nothing but an image of the society we live in: The invisible ruler in the very centre, immersed in his very own world, deaf to everything that happens outside. He is surrounded by the obedient followers, dedicated and trustful. But in Lopez' vision these citizens are about to be executed, blindfolded in their last moments of life. The hangman wears a black hood. Expressing a sinister and utmost pessimistic view, Lopez' series of immersive concerts are an outcry for humanity at its darkest and most lonely moment.

The Sweet Life

It is so cute. Some of us out there in the field lead workshops. Since this is an institutional activity, the artist has to present a programme. The normal way is that the person behind the desk, I mean the money desk, has knowledge, decides after listening to the works of the aspirant invitee. Nope. You have to write your request, preferably in gibberish and take a seat in a virtual waiting room. In meta language we know that the relation waiting room/ office is based on power.

Of course in the same meta language the artists theoretical outline of his workshop idea, is an expression of his disgust for the situation. He/she presents himself as if talking to a five years old. A typical field recordings workshop could be: introduction to different kinds of recording gear and recording methods. Go out to places with a special acoustic quality.

Imagine a writer proposing this kind of workshop. He would tell that you can actually write with a pen, a pencil or a ballpoint. Also a computer or a laptop can be used. Then there is different kinds of paper to write on, as there is a whole range of computers one can choose from. Once we know what to use to write with and on, we can consider where. A café, a library, at home in the kitchen, the attic, the basement? Or maybe in the underground, or just everywhere.

Would some institution accept my proposal if I would say the participants should come to the first day of the workshop with their recordings and that we will use the time to shape it into a composition? Could that be enough?

The Stage and my Fridge

Winter is near, so is the end of this year's festival. I have chosen different locations, mostly in the Berlin Neukölln area, because I prefer to go home walking after the shows. I also like diversity. Luckily the area of Neukölln that confines with Kreuzberg has gone through a significant change all through this year. For a very long period the lack of bars and small galleries underlined the poor and in some corners dangerous character of the neighbourhood. In 2008 there was a new place opening every week.

I have seen over fifty people perform at my festival. A special series within the festival evolves around the collaboration between Seiji Morimoto and Francisco Cavaliere. The theme is 'imitation of nature recordings' (referring to the tradition in painting; imitation of nature).The places where the festival lands don't have a stage in the traditional elevated sense. (The newly found bar/theatre Sowieso, excepted. I will write on the evenings there in a next entry). But in a kind of 'Me Tarzan, you Jane' reasoning, it is inevitable that with listeners and performer(s) in the same space, the performers defines the stage with their presence and their gear (yes! In front of the speakers and in charge of the mixing desk), and that from the very beginning on the listeners accumulate as an audience.

Whenever I listen back to my own recordings I focus on loudspeakers, or on the moving light columns of the recording level indicator or on the four track itself. Sometimes it happens that I wake up from the trance and wonder why I don't look outside the window. Well, it is about concentration. The same rule applies when looking at the least spectacular performer of all, the laptop artist. It helps with the concentration. And also the performer is helped by this attention.

Then there is times that the fridge bursts out in tears, because she feels so empty. Leftovers reside like tramps. And still, a little wonder occurs every time when I cook a meal with the last pieces from my fridge. It tastes just delicious. A comparable sensation comes from watching the performer behind a desk full of self made instruments and/or equipment that he bought for a few cents on the flee market.

Seiji and Francesco use cheap electronics and branches. They are visible, entertaining to look at, sound and movement are connected. They don't need the hocus pocus of blind folded audiences, an essay to defend this all, and an overall listening situation that I, in a heated discussion and strictly of the record would call:" Bullshit."

All the people I saw perform can do without the degrading observation of Francisco Lopez:" With sound we can do much better then that" (it is playing on a stage.) I can assure that, to my surprise and excitement, the artists that I saw/heard at my festival, already can do much better then that.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Halfway through the Year of the Rat - 9th of August Kim Laugs, ongaku- hh, Simon Whetham

This years festival official opening ceremony was on the 7th of February. At that day I was in Amsterdam. The Year of the Rat was about to start. I thought that was a good doorstep to use. Around midnight on a rather mild and therefore humid and still cold winter’s day I arrived at the Nieuwmarkt, where one of the town’s oldest buildings is to be found, but also where narrow streets lead into the red light district and other not that narrow streets make up the Chinese quarter.

Chinese quarter, Chinese New Year, Chinese fire works and Chinese girls with voices like tiny Tibetan bells. Dancers, banners, acrobats, chap soy and drumsticks. The Olympic Games were still far away, and already some minuscule part of the opening ceremony invaded my mind. The Nieuwmarkt, though, was as deserted as you could expect on a week’s day in winter. An announcement said the Chinese New Year celebrations were to be held on the 9th of February, a Saturday, in a big tent. Now, would the pope sell Christmas? Maybe he did so long ago.

Still I decided to record my walk through the Zeedijk with its Chinese restaurants and the Chinese temple and Chinese shops full of waving golden cats. I took a turn at the binnenbantammerstraat, just to find out if my resonating footsteps would sound the same. Around the corner and back again. I walked streets so familiar to me years and years ago, but other then a belated Christmas ghost asking for a place to buy cigarettes, there was no living soul. If there were some party going on, it must have been a very quiet one.

In August winter is very far away. Great white clouds hang motionless over the city. The sunsets seem to finish the same day over and over again. Mosquitoes dance over the water, little black almost transparent dots, ever moving like some undecipherable scripture. Then there is bicycles and girls, people lying on the green, smiles and laziness. And there is the dusty golden light, the trees, open windows; the cars finally shut up.

Suddenly I realized that this episode of the festival marked the end of the first six months. When I invited the three artists, I didn’t have in mind to do something special. In fact, having roamed the virtual festival ground in these past months, it was no more but logical, that trespassers would reveal themselves as friends. “Why you give notice so short time in advance?” a listener from Hamburg asked. When I saw the microphone in his hand, I answered: ”Why don’t you come over and play?”

In real life Kim Laugs was always around some corner. If it weren’t for his programming activities in Maastricht and The Hague, it was because of his move to Berlin. Way back in February 2007, he played with his group Feedbacksociety at the unofficial opening of the festival, co-starring with Paulo Raposo. While Paulo’s intended concert was eaten by his laptop (the spellbinding alternative he had composed in the night before), Kim & Co were in Berlin as tourists. I considered them found artists, gave them my dictaphones to record Berlin, and my tape recorders to play with and they succeeded with great bravura. That’s why I knew I could invite him.

In the days before I asked every now and then what he was preparing. “Well,” he said. “I am going to use some nice sounds from soundtransit.” I knew he was not joking. I would have been a joke had I instructed him to use his own recordings. Having the laws of plunderphonics applied to field recordings amused me. “What else?” I asked. Then he told me that parts of the low countries had been struck by a tornado recently, a very rare phenomenon in that part of the world. “Ah?” So he would use some weather reports as well. “You also have some recordings of your own?” I can’t remember I got a clear answer to that question.

Then on the evening of the concerts, Kim spread out his gear over the floor, connected strange looking self built electronics with a toy keyboard, some tape recorders, all with lamps and blinks, and when the lights went down, and the thunder storms came in, it was as if he was sitting somewhere high up in a lighthouse. When more winds (directly from outside?) and voices (ships in danger?) whirled around, it looked and sounded like he was actually creating the weather on the very spot. The concert was way too short, but maybe that was for safety reasons.

The man from Hamburg looked like a person one could only meet when life is a kind of Mary Poppins movie. His musical background was a very long way from the places where I move. It was so far away that audiences queued up to enter it, and paid good money for the admission as well. We are talking Brahms, Bach and Beethoven. We are talking about Mahler, Mozart and Mendelssohn. They went out listening, and came back home composing. It is too easy to imagine what the B’-s and the M’-s would have done if recording gear had existed in their times. It is not easy to imagine what we would have been doing if those wig heads really had had the possibility to go out and record.

Udo used the artist name ongaku-HH. Thanks to this ongaku ( a word that came into his life when he was still a student in West Berlin), meaning ‘ music’ in Japanese, we had one accidental Japanese person in the audience. HH is Hamburg (Hansestadt Hamburg), especially when you see a car. I knew Udo had studied classical composing, and still did so, for piano and cello. He later told me that he had given up playing himself when he married. His wife could play Bach’s quattremain pieces with two hands. He didn’t want to sit next to that.

I wanted to know if he applied the same composing laws when working with field recordings. He answered two times. One was saying:” yes.” The other was playing four pieces, that together made up for something noble that in literature is called a sonnet. To describe the pieces Udo played requires a vocabulary way bigger then mine.

From where I sat I could see his profile while playing. I saw his hands rising from the keyboard as if he’d just touched the keys from a grand piano. Maybe he saw his wife’s image again as he’d recorded her while she was singing. In the glow of the screen, I could see intense satisfaction and pleasure on his face. Lasse, Paulo, Dale are you reading this? Udo’s work should appear on CD. He can take our kind of music one step further to recognition. .. should, actually.

Simon Whetham from Bristol, UK, approached me the official way. He sent a mail. Which among other things meant that he knew dkfrf existed. I just point this out, so that you can tell your local art councillor. I sent Simon an official invitation to show to his local art council. With the money of a grant it is less painful to spend money on travelling and bring your art to new ears. We all can see in every day life where a lot of the cultural support ends up: big posters in the streets, flyers, ads and whatever visual pollution one can think of. Simon’s request for a grant got turned down. Well, here is an appeal to those who decide over somebody else’s money.

Simon’s request got turned down for a lack of public engagement. Those who turned down knew better what they meant by ‘public engagement’ then Simon and I. But that is not the point. The point is someone going out to offer his recordings in an artistic way stands in the line of the aural tradition. One may think that aural tradition is about story telling, and passing on historical events, be they on local or cosmological level. In thinking so, one is partially right. Aural tradition is also about the listeners and the society they are part of.

In a society based on aural tradition people move by foot. This results in a different pace very, but really very opposite to the ever more futile world of television and mobile phone applications. Opposing these two ways of experiencing life doesn’t mean that I would like to make a distinction between good and bad. I just want to underline the difference, and the importance that a new generation of story tellers, those who use sounds from our environment, is about to embark on society. The cultural value of having each one of them tell their story, doesn’t lie in the immediate artistic resultm it is twenty-five minutes of sound composition. Okay it does. But the main importance is in the medium that is used. A medium, I repeat, that comes from and transmits a different pace. A medium that invites and seduces the audience to listen. Where silence and attention is created, a sense of orientation originates. Field recordings create a different sense of space and time.

Having said this, I can return to Simon. Some days after his concert I talked with him, to know more about his career. There was more pre-history then history to it. He started to make recordings somewhere out there, when he was in Iceland a few years ago. As part of a group of artists, each one of them with a well-defined task, he concluded that to record was the only thing he could do. What strong impact such recordings could have while listening to them, he only realized when he came back to his hotel room. He had been recording without headphones. This changed quickly. Headphones, different microphones, recording gear, Alps and other geographical destinations came soon into his life. I envied him for the lost recordings of the Gobi desert, and complimented Francesco Lopez for all his efforts; the Amazons reunion being one of them.

With all this information my memories of his concert was provided with some fresh connotations. I already had heard that he structured his piece as a novel, dividing it into several chapters. Tension in the last lines, and precarious explorations of new life forms in the first moments of every new chapter. But with the additional information I could hear in retrospective also the almost eighteenth century like enthusiasm of a natural scientist. There were no cracklings of dinosaur eggs and mating cries of a new specimen of the audivalirius moonbratum to be heard, but there might have.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ancient Life, a report, an essay, a story

Ancient life was all silence. In the nineteenth century, with the invention of the machine, Noise was born. Today, Noise triumphs and reigns supreme over the sensibility of men. For many centuries life went by in silence, or at most in muted tones. These words were written by Luigi Russolo in his letter that we know as the manifesto: The Art of Noises. It is not known if Luigi had pulled a feather from a goose to provide himself with a pencil, or if he had used a typewriter that, after all, was an Italian invention.

Russolo got his vision of noise providing machines while attending a concert of a musical piece composed and conducted by a friend of him. In the letter to his friend the composer he sums up different sound sources that can be understood as noise. If Luigi had made recordings of these sources he would have been one of the first out in the field.

One can have doubts on the suggestion that ancient life was all silence. Assuming that men had ears and have used them from the very beginning, there must have been sounds as well. These sounds didn't come with a well defined intellectual notion. These sounds were probably detected to define one's own position for safety, navigational or communicative reasons, more or less like we do today. Human being is homo-centric, otherwise we would never have grouped together to create religions, civilisations, cities or myspace.

More recent thoughts on noise come from Harold Schellinx in one of his SoundBlog entry's:Writing a "Meaning of noise" <...snip...> would undoubtedly lead one to re-consider much of our history. Does not noise stand to signal as a yin stands to a yang? It is part of any kind of communication, and it is communication through which we shape ourselves and our world. But then, should one ask, are we shaped through the signals, or rather shaped by the noise ?

One must know that Harold is part of a quartet. Three musicians (Harold included) use cassette players and dictaphones. Fifteen cassette players and dictaphones might run simultaneously at some point during a performance, each playing either found sounds or field recordings. Each of these recordings can be listed as a signal. But fifteen signals signalling at the same time produce noise, or do they?

If we compare Luigi's noise to Harold's signal we notice that they both sound the same. The answer is in a yin and a yang. The symbol doesn't represent a static situation. What once was a yin is now a yang and will become a yin again and so a on. If Schellinx assumes that writing on the meaning of noise would re-consider much of our history, I somehow sense that the noise he talks about is much the same as Russolo's silence of old days.

As a mathematician Harold takes the question to a decisive step. What will happen if signal interferes with itself, he writes. I write now: If, in that question, we replace 'signal' with 'God' one could expect a mathematician proving that there is more then one God, and more then one noise. For sure experiencing noise can only lead to listening better and hear more and thus push history in a different direction, unless you understand noise as sounds played at a very loud volume.

Michele Spanghero is more or less from the same region as Russolo, a not too populated area close to the Austrian and Slovenian border, a protectorate shortly after WWII, and geographically slightly out of focus, more noise then signal so to say. In discourse you get more noise then signal once there is an excessive use of slogans and rhetorics. Both Russolo and Michele live(d) in a country dominated by this kind of noise. Both Russolo and Michele were at one moment in their lives intrigued by the sounds of machines.

A double bass player with double bass player's ears, he walked into an exhibition of projectors. Well, that was what he encountered. The idea of the exhibition was to show the projections, mostly abstract and full of colours. All these projectors were handmade by the artists, therefore different in shape, and in sound. Michele got intrigued by the rhythms the projectors produced, and recorded each one of them. Then he wrote to me, and asked if he could bring these sounds to the festival. I agreed, because of the direct line to futurism.

I also agreed because I understood his recordings as a sonic essay, not only because of the direct line to futurism, but also because of the constructive aspect. Constructive as in semantics of a memory, or rather the semantics of an imposed memory. Old school sovjet scholars were very fond of these enterprises: they tried to construct a collective memory of a country's past. Sentiments in politics can't withhold the contemporary artist, or curator of a field recordings festival to add a postmodern notion to the idea of construction. That's why I liked the chaplinesque idea (modern times!) to offer the listener a journey right into the machine room of his imagination, and have sounds of projectors represent the psychological process of visualizing sounds. Michele's concert lasted hours, neatly divided between the projection room (noise) and the screen (signal).

When I first saw Melanie Velarde she was struggling with the elements. She was supposed to be performing, but laptop, one loudspeaker, the amplifier, the quality of the sound in general, the interface and everything else that could obstruct, obstructed. The concert she had in mind, remained there. One could wonder that some sound was coming out of the other speaker at all. But it did. It was playing, like an unmanned assembly line filled with plates keeps running, even if at the end of the line there is nothing to pick those plates up. No plate crashing sounds, but on the running side of the performance Peter Prautzsch, the organizer of the evening, who kept running in and out of the room. Melanie's spot became the crisis center. Luckily she didn't interrupt the performance, because all the outside rumours, like the footsteps from the people passing in the corridor, the rhubarb in the kitchen, became, as by magic, a part of the ongoing soundscaping. I was delighted. Melanie was surprised, but hey, it was my ears against her intentions.

In O Tannenbaum she brought two cassette walkman. Melanie was seated on the floor, on a carpet, because the basement floor of the venue is really cold and concrete. The walkman were lying in front of her. She picked up one of them, pushed play, placed it at the side of her. The walkman played a walk. Then she picked up the other walkman, pushed play, and placed it next to the other walkman. The walkman played a garden. Then her fingers touched the black keys of a little casio. Every now and then she looked up, smiled and looked down again.

The walk and the garden were at the other side, like everything is at the other side when you press your nose against a window. On rainy days you will hear rain. On windy days you will hear wind. On sunny days you will hear the neighbours. At night you will hear an owl. But it will always be at the other side. And on this side are thoughts, memories, longings and a slow song coming from a casio.

Sean Barret came to the festival as Sean Ferguson Barret; I really don’t know where he got the Ferguson from; I had always thought he had some Bavarian moms amongst his ancestors ; never mind the household. I have seen him perform like kobayashvili, or whatever georgian name he had chosen as an alias; I have seen a movie in which he throws around his effect pedals; I know he is very much into noise as in NOISE, and that his pants are kind of tight and Mattin loves his work; we even have spend some fine moments headbanging in front of a guitar amp when everyone else was buying souveniers from the that evening to become ex-stralau 68, but that he had recordings from westcoast would never have occurred to me, untill the day he approached me and asked if he could play at the festival. Suddenly it all made sense : Sean as cross-over between a somehow upgraded hobo and a beatnik, yes why not : he could take it on the road with sounds that smelled like an ocean’s breeze.

But then he arrived at the venue, a bit depressed, because his computer had eaten all the recordings. My first thought was like his comment when he discovered my page on myspace : »what ? Sean works with a computer ? « Eventually he had planned so. His set would be of left over recordings and his favourite drone.

He played last. Remaining on the hobo/beatnik trail of imagination, in the glow of the red light at the end of the basement, a glow so darkening that one could see through the layers of time into a stage coach, or a small room above an abandoned bar somewhere in San Francisco of the Kerouac years, that drone came. Sean lit a cigarette and sat aside on a chair, and smoked that cigarette to its end. After all it was his favourite drone. He went back to his instruments at daybreak, and at that time one could clearly hear the ocean rolling its waves upon the shore.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Pavement Tapes – dkfrf intiem – 5th of July Harold Schellinx, Ben Roberts, Soinumapa

harold schellinx - picture by wolfgang dorninger

I wondered where The Ramones had their music from. In the middle of the seventies there was nothing that sounded like it. Their songs were funny, fresh and explosive. They were also easy to hook up with. Those Ramones could have lived right around the corner. Everything else I heard then lived around the corner from years before.It took a few weeks to understand. I got a little help from television. It showed a piece of ‘paranoid’ by Black Sabbath. Now listen for yourself: “PT boat on its way to Havana, used to make a living man picking the banana” or “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 dàdadàdadàdadàm dàdadàdadàdadàm”, that “dàdadàdadàdadàm”, is half the riff of ‘paranoid’ which ends more like “dàdaaa dàm”, but needs loads more of dàda’s to come to the point.

I can imagine The Ramones sitting together drinking beer and throwing empty cans at the loudspeakers. They somehow like the song, but Black Sabbath are a bunch of hippies wearing big silly crucifixes. The song is too long. The song is too long because it has to many dàda’s in it. And they don’t like the dàdaa dàm. The first Ramones long player is a 28 minutes remix of ‘paranoid.’ “Beat on the brat with a baseball bat, o yeah.” That ‘brat’ was Ozzy Osbourne singing “Can you help me?”

Now I think this remodeling was a postmodern act. And if it was not a postmodern act, because I am too dumb to understand postmodernism, it was at least a liberating one. Black Sabbath and such were still battling with their formative years, when they were forced to listen to headmasters, and morality weighed heavy on the young souls. Their resistance was a moral and philosophical discourse; it hadn’t anything to do with street life. Their generation gave us the yuck of last century: Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

The cover of the first album is in black and white. Everybody knows that cover. Everybody who has seen that cover remembers the position of Joey’s right foot. Everybody knows that all four members had chosen Ramone as a family name. That was funny. In those days other families included The Waltons, The Partridge Family, The Carpenters, Sly and the Family Stone, The Osmond Brothers and The Monkees. Baptizing oneself Ramone could be classified a postmodern act, if I weren’t so ignorant about that.

The Ramones were unique. Maybe only the Cramps can be compared to them. The Cramps used swamp zombies as their running gag. It is not a long way from Ozzy to the swamp, though the bookshop where they sell comic strips is almost next-door. Donald Duck and Ronald Reagan were equally important to the Ramones.

Just as their first album marked the beginning of a new era, so did disco. Disco is gay. The gayest of them all were Village People. Their songs came directly from Hollywood, an endless mix of ‘There is no business like show business’ and Kojak. Disco tried to restore the Hollywoodean America of the twenties, when everyone was gay (as in having or showing a carefree spirit) and white, well dressed and rich. The only black people around then were stall mates, waiters or chubby house helps. The disco blacks served their beats with a smile; all of them were very well mannered. Disco gave us funny diseases like Aids or the Beegees. But it gave us also postmodern philosophies, o yes.

In the last years of the twentieth century postmodernism was really big. Every newspaper and periodical bulged with articles on postmodernism. Postmodernism was not only mainstream, it also defined what belonged to mainstream and what not. This mixture of being the nominator and the nominated was of course very postmodern. No wonder it attracted loads of persons who only wanted to talk about themselves and sneer at others.

Postmodernism was about editing; thoughts, fashion, arts, politics, city center’s, logo’s, companies, health care, shopping, language, social behavior, dna, the human body and Michael Jackson were all subject to this editing. If the Ramones and their likes behaved as if a new era had begun, this new era had to be defined. In politics the isms disappeared. In discourse serious thinking and arguments disappeared. Popular insult was to call someone moralistic. Immoral behavior makes you end up in jail or in big business. Mainstream postmodernists never admitted that they were in fact post nihilists. The meaning of ‘to bother’ and to care’ got mixed up. Buddhist maxims like ‘detachment’ were used as a disguise. In the nineties everybody was on its way to enlightenment. Everybody was wearing shades as well; you simply had to.

These days the very margins of society are well defined. And though Tuned City was big, as in lots of things happening, many people involved, hundreds of hours invested in organization, I consider it a marginal event. I don’t think Carsten Stabenow compromised a lot. I admire him for setting this up; I take also courage and inspiration from it. Carsten knew what he was doing: the subjects discussed in the symposiums reflected his personal interest; the sound installations came from artists he knew, the same for the performing artists. He didn’t look at numbers or curriculums; he looked at character and quality.

On Saturday fifth of July Tuned City was built under the roofs of Funkhaus Nalepastrasse, former home to the GDR radio studios and equipped with one of the best recording halls in the world. I also read one day that in some parts of the buildings the marble floor was brought in from Hitler’s Reichskanzlei. This mere fact alone constitutes my fascination. Some day I want to go there and record echoes of footsteps that have died down long ago. But I was busy on Saturday. They won’t confiscate the building right away. MTV has still to colonize the more central river part of Berlin.

In fact we were sitting on the sidewalk of the Weserstrasse in Neukölln. Next to us was a tailor studio, owned by a lady who had lived here for more then twenty-five years and had seen the rise and fall of her street. For long years she had lived between black windows and the noises of empty houses. Cake and Coffee records shop was yet another little store that opened in this dangerous neighborhood. We got in, while restoring work was still going on: the perfect space for Harold Schellinx’s Found Tapes Exhibition. Most of his equipment comes from flea markets. The tapes he finds along the road. While the neighbor repaired clothes, Harold repaired tapes. The idea to launch a tape repair shop came up. Maybe we will do so next year, when we can afford to pay the rent.

Sunday afternoon might have been better, but most of us were leaving on that day. So there was Ben Roberts rushing in directly from Madrid who talked about his fascination for abandoned tapes and the sounds on it, especially the unintended sounds, because they evoked so many images and thoughts about life that once was and now is not any more. He played some of these recordings causing a kind of tap dance for three cassette players whose play, fast forward and rewind buttons were pressed continuously: in came voices from answering machines and African missionaries and lots more.

When that was done we went outside and had a long talk with Xavier Erkizia about the sound map of the Basque Region and his exceptional ideal situation in the Basque Art World, where he has carte blanche at the San Sebastian Art Centre, because the director has a blind belief in his moves. Of course also this situation is threatened by bureaucracy and political programs composed by editors. We ended up with hours and hours of recorded material. What started as an interview turned into a very long talk among friends. All the time Oier Iruretogoiena played sounds from his closed laptop. Some day it will be heard. But then again the program for ‘some day’ is quite full already.

Monday, August 11, 2008

24th of July - Barack Obama's imaginary concert

Back in 1981 when the godfathers of emo carried white flags, I joined one of the biggest demo’s the Netherlands had ever seen: hundreds of thousands marched the streets of The Hague and protested against the neutron bomb. It felt like we the people really could influence politics. Similar protest marches were seen in West European capitals. Whatever the result of the protest was, the people also gathered in such huge masses because they were sick and tired of the cold war atmosphere.

Cold war ended in 1989. Now the godfathers of emo wear Gucci, and Bush and Blair have given us another cold war. In times of sloganism and endless zapping, of hyper realities and internet friendship, saturation is reached far more faster then in those days. Barack Obama carries a message of change and hope for a better and peaceful future.

When Obama came to Berlin I claimed his speech at the Siegessäule as a performance at the dkfrf. This news was read by maybe one hundred and sixteen persons. It didn’t shock the world. It was not my intention to shock the world. The evenings of dkfrf have an average attendance of thirty-eight persons. Maybe some of the possible thirty-eight went to see Obama, and thought of his talk as an imaginary concert. Wasn’t it a visionary who would talk, and wasn’t this vision one of a better world? Does a better world also sound better? Obama didn’t know he was playing at my festival: The letter I send him along with an english version of Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin was identified as a dangerous object by security.

I did record his rally. I walked from Unter der Linden U-station to the Pariser Platz, where I found a crowd gathered in front of hotel Adlon. I took position among the onlookers, convinced that they were waiting for Obama; it was 18.25. The speech would start at 19.00. I thought, well he will come out, step into the car, drive to the stage, do ‘toctoc’ on the microphone and say: ”Hello Berlin, my name is Barack Obama, I’m the next president of the United States.” At 18.45 I thought that Obama was living up to Berlin conditions and would start his performance half an hour later. At 18.48 I thought to hear crowd cheering in the distance. At 18.51 I finally realized what fool I had been and started walking towards the Brandenburger Tor, and from there, together with others, to the Siegessäule.

I recorded fragments with the inbuilt microphone of a cheap cassette Walkman. Longer pieces, like the mumbles of the waiting crowd, some police walkie-talkie messaging, the footsteps of the people walking towards the stage I recorded with a separate mini microphone of a very good cassette Walkman. As soon as I heard the voice above the sounds of the moving crowd – he thanked the Berlin fire brigade – I started to record my walk; It was my intention to get as near as possible. I started at approximately thirteen-hundred meters from the stage.

On my walk I first encountered little improvised beer and wurst stands, uncountable rows of people in front of me, building an impenetrable wall, TV-screens and a massive loudspeaker system. The road to the Siegessäule is slightly going downward, so everybody could look over everybody’s head. Over all those heads there was nothing that could lead to identifying Obama as a person existing in real life, holding a speech. Since I didn’t want to fill the tape with sounds coming from the loudspeakers, I decided to enter the park at the left side of the road, and continue my walk towards the source of it all.

Here I encountered individuals sitting on the green, solemn faces, drinking every word they heard. Then I thought of Jesus who after his talk did this wonderful thing with bread and fish. Now I think of habitants of this earth, who, by attending the rally, gave expression to their concern about the current political state of things. My Walkman recorded people walking by, the sounds of little branches breaking under my feet. I ended up at a point where I recorded the voice coming out of two different loudspeaker towers. The message was captured by a sonic whirlwind; the sounds that escaped the centrifugal power were not detectable any more as words.

I finished my walk at three steps from a policeman, who joyously asked me where I thought that I was going. I recorded the question, but I didn’t record my thought. I was joined by some young men who had no problems with the policeman’s wit, and even got a decent answer after four attempts to find out what those white tents were at the other side of the fence. From the answer I learned where Obama was to be found in the immediate hours before stepping up to the microphone.

Then I walked back through the centrifuge of sounds and recorded the end of Barack Obama’s performance.

4th of July - Tuned Citizens

On the first days of July an event called Tuned City was held in Berlin. I quote from the programme: ”Tuned City between sound and space speculation is an exhibition and conference project which proposes a new evaluation of architectural spaces from the perspective of the acoustic.” I was invited to curate one evening of dkfrf on the Wriezener Bahnhof, a stretch of wasteland in Friedrichshain along the railway track. The idea was to have a pleasant evening of listening under a star spangled sky, given all visitors a perfect example of a new evaluation of an architectural space from the perspective of the acoustic.

Derek Holzer who invited me and Carsten Stabenow who agreed on having the dkfrf at Tuned City – and my gratitude goes out to them, also from this digital screen – must have had similar visions to mine: A warm summer’s evening, sounds coming from a perfect sound system to give every listener the chance to dive into an acoustic wonderland, no outside noises to disturb the sonic flow, and enough land to walk around for those who wanted to chat without disturbing the dedicated listener.


The great weather prophet in the sky looked down on Berlin, saw a blending sheet of white sunny days spread over the city, and decided to treat that image in the same way Lucio Fontana did to canvas: He took out a Stanley knife and made a deep and sharp cut. On ’our’ Thursday temperature had dropped twenty degrees. Rainstorms swept over the barren land. It was cold, wet, humid and unpleasant. One could expect a theatrical remake of Moby Dick, with Ahab climbing the mast and going berserk. One could expect the most violent scenes of Wagner’s ‘The Flying Dutchman.’ One could even expect Vietnam, Beirut or Managua. But one could not expect that the audience, who had been listening for three days to lectures and stuff, would lean back and listen. No, now it was their turn to talk, and talk they did. A lot.

Were they sitting in the mud? No, no, wasteland had it, that one of the buildings had a sane roof. What we had was a hybrid between a hangar and a market hall with excellent acoustic qualities. Too bad that only the ceiling had been complete renewed Made entirely of wood, it was an absolute masterpiece of German craftsmanship. Whoever commissioned it, was the secret star of the evening. The building also had doors, or rather, entrances, huge and wide entrances that gave a clear view, but above all, feel, of the weather conditions. The ambience was kind of brrr. The audience was kind of half eared. The performers were kind of lost. The dkfrf was kind of shipwrecked.

The next day summer had returned as if nothing had happened. The shore we had washed upon was a sidewalk in Neukölln.

An extensive report on the dkfrf evening at tuned city will appear in Harold Schellinx’ SoundBlog. He will also present an on line audio-impression.

Playing on that evening were ( in a continuous flow) preluded by a walkman performance by Harold Schellinx.

The Phonographic Arkester

Peter Prautzsch

Richard Francis

Somaya Langley


Lasse Marc Riek

The recordings (from the mixer) will become available soon.

14th of June - Through the Mazes of the Map – Koen Holtkamp, Stephane Leonard, Daily

The man who tried to find the origins of money committed suicide. He was a German who studied in Munich in the seventies. Germany in the seventies was a good place to take your life. But why one should become so desperate on the way to the very beginnings of money has always puzzled me. And it also disappointed me, because he had arrived at some strange places where coins looked like stone wheels, had a hole in the middle and were left outside leaning against the house. They were bigger then a man who would stand on the shoulders of his stronger brother.

I mean he got so close to the solution, or did he? Was he cursed? Money is about organizing a society, or a community. It is also about here and there, and us and them and a sense of geography that stretches beyond the horizons, thus adding past and future to a present that probably never was experienced in such way. But inventing money is about knowing this all, before every one else knows.

It is said, written and printed that scripture was invented in a civilization that was coming to its end. The writer felt like packing his suitcase. Just like Abraham did at one stage in his life. Maybe he was also a writer. He counted the stars.

Everybody is in ispace. The second coming of oneself can only be canceled by an eternal electric fall out. Did you know that the first politician who will be treated as a rock star wants to come to Berlin to talk at the Brandenburger Tor? There are two sides to the Brandenburger Tor. At one side is the Pariser Platz where the new USA embassy has found its home and JFK is the name of a museum. At the other side is a long road that leads up to the pillar with the golden angel. In times of popular demand this stretch of land becomes a zone known as the fan mile. Love parades or the matches of the German football team projected on big screens attract up to one million people. Obama might not talk directly from the Obama main stage on the fan mile, but I am pretty sure that at the other side of the Brandenburger Tor the biggest crowd this place has ever seen will follow his speech. The next day you will find the videos on youtube.*

What is it about this frantic archiving that has invaded our lives? Why should every move be recorded/filmed/stored so that it can be seen or listened to by an invisible audience? Are the number of views or downloads the poor mans substitute to the millions of dollars from the rich? Is someone packing his suitcase? Sure one does so, because he has the tools. But what would a historian write about this phenomenon in a few hundred years from now? “File under gossip”? And will the satellites with all these data be rusted or even disintegrated by then? How futile is it all?

Field recordings are related to a space, even if you record refrigerators. Some of them are site specific. The rain forest sounds different from a rainy day in Berlin. Field recorders have discovered the Humboldt in them. Not the cdr or the hard disk became the storage place for their recordings. Internet has provided them with a visual aid. Futility? It gives the user a possibility to experience one aspect of life outside its physical boundaries. But this visualization is also an important help in the process of convincing curators and politicians to consider field recordings as a groundbreaking discipline. And it defines ‘home’ to the field recorder.

Then they walked out one fine summer day.

Koen Holtkamp’s parents probably took the plane when they emigrated from the Netherlands to the U.S.A. Koen (short for Koenraad, that is the Dutch Conrad, the ‘oe’ is pronounced like ‘ou’ in ‘you’, but short, so more like an ‘ou’ in a James Brown song) arrived in his new homeland at a very young age, and grew up in the American language. He speaks this language like every other American, with a deep round voice that seems to come from somewhere below his knees.

Alessandro Bosetti might still wonder why different languages resonate in different parts of the human body. He might have been flabbergasted if he had heard Koen speak, or rather stumble through a restricted vocabulary of Dutch words. I found myself not listening at what he was saying when talking to him; actually –sorry Koen – I was listening through him, because I couldn’t understand what I heard. Untill I realised the virtual time travel: I had been listening to the Dutch language as it was spoken some thirty years ago. Language is an invisible continent: this one opened up a vision of the Netherlands in the late seventies. Now go and be touched by far away years, and see what happens.

The dkfrf evening turned out to be a meeting of travelers, but geographical distances were not the only ones to be covered. Koen played binaural recordings from a walk through the forest. If there is one thing besides the clouds and the canyons that the first immigrants to the Americas found on their way, it was a forest. So his walk could easily be listened to as a momentum in American History; If then from the crackle of the bushes a most angelic voice arises the momentum becomes monumental in its reference to the enormous almost supra – religious impact this landscape must have made to the stranger who entered this world for the first time; pure bliss!

Dkfrf-veteran Stephane Leonard had freshly arrived from Brooklyn, New York City. ‘Brooklyn’ is not only the name of one of the Beckham kids; it is also an answer to a popular Dutch quiz question. What part of NYC is named after a Dutch city? Breukelen is now a part of the city of Utrecht. Van Breukelen, Hans was for many years the goalkeeper of the Dutch team. I am sure the Beckhams weren’t thinking of him when they made love under the Brooklyn bridge. Their sighs must have gone since a long time.

In Bosetti’s imaginary discourse Manhattan was a small island. It is a strange thing to realize how field recordings can visualize the layers of time. Now imagine a young man from Berlin, born and raised in the last years of a now non-existing country who comes to New York, stays at a friends house in Brooklyn and who is confronted with the bridge almost every day. The bridge has become a symbol of the new world and everything this new world stands for. As a photographic and cinematographic icon it has entered our minds even if we will never be able to see it, touch it, go over it. Stephane found out that it produced noise. And noise he played for thirty minutes, like a kid would play with cars and trains. Or should I say like Woody Allen imagines playing his clarinet alongside Django Reinhardt? Or do you hear Gershwin poke his stick to the ceiling of his coffin? Rhapsodies sound different today. Stephane should return some day to get us the next movement.

When Daily embarked for the first time on the German part of the western hemisphere he spend some time in the regions where volcanoes seem to have fallen asleep eternally, but in fact observe the land of whine and wheat from under half sunken eye-lids. The town that was chosen as the capital to the BRD because one of the greatest composers of all time was born there became his second hometown. Here, walking the streets at daytime Daily got stunned, because he actually saw a fast running animal that resembled a rabbit but is larger, has long ears and legs, and doesn’t burrow. It was not the reason he moved on to Düsseldorf, or maybe it was. At the Art Academy he heard Yannis Kounellis tell long stories. That was then. Now he was in Berlin, because Baruch Gottlieb, an assistant professor at a Seoul university popped up in my mailbox for a short chat. A few weeks later, kindly supported by the Arts Council Korea, Daily arrived in Berlin.

He stayed at my house and we watched some matches from the European Championships together. He amazed me that he never had one favorite country. He laughed and booaad just the same when the Turks scored or when the Germans did so in the same match. An extensive portrait of Daily can be found on Hars’ sound blog. While staying at Berlin he was either out shooting pictures or making recordings, cooking dinner or working and cutting until very late at night. He had to. And guess what? The Arts Council Korea also sponsored the propaganda! Ten nice posters were made, that looked so good in fact that I put up only four of them in public spaces. I am sure the ATK can forgive that move.

Also because more people showed up at our evening, then at Daily’s show in Amsterdam where three guest musicians played the city nightscape turned musical score. On the evening of DKFRF we agreed on showing two of his compositions. The first one was made in Seoul. It would give the general public an impression of what Daily’s work should look like. It looked like a lot of white dots on a black surface that slowly moved from the right to the left. Each dot was a light in the nightly city. To each dot a computerized note was played, a very dry note, as you can expect on short wave radio. It made me think of the art movements in the sixties when intellectualism met good-looking women smoking cigarettes, and men looked like scientist who read poetry.

Those days poetry looked like

Summer in a dry shirt wrinkles over the low cast frowns of your face shuts up in a factory when the sirens call and the trucks drive charcoal in a baby’s mouth in a winter of drug stores worn down petticoats forgotten hillsides and row row row if veronicas drench the shiny part of the birch and beasts come nibbling from your nipples and weasels are fearless in the shadow of America America moon love dairy mothers and olive trees washingshiningshirts come back from next summer

Or maybe it didn’t.

The Seoul composition also looked like a short movie one could encounter on television. It looked good, but it looked good in a world that was not mine anymore. The composition with the field recordings looked good as well… a different good. It was fascinating to see the result of two days hard work. It was also fascinating to see how the images floated with the same speed from the right to the left of the screen, the same slow as Tarkovsky used for his camera shots. His pictures showed Neukölln, the most dangerous area of Berlin. Daily can be lucky he didn’t fall victim to a robbery.

All his pictures and recordings came together in a composition especially made for the festival, an enterprise in which Daily showed more courage then when walking the extremely notorious Rütlistrasse at night. He risked very much to fail. He did not. No way. Watching his composition was like daydreaming behind the window of a bus that after a long day of traveling drives through the streets of a new town. One is too tired to get excited, even a bit anxious because the hostel has still to be found. The bus slowly moves on along shops and bars that somehow look familiar. Daily stated that he would need another two years to perfectionize this concept. Yep. That was to be seen. I guess that is part of the fascination: if you leave enough space for the onlooker, then the story will meet another story. In this invisible space that got created by Koen, Stephane and Daily a lot of stories must have been told. Most of those stories will remain unheard. And unmapped.

*This paragraph shows how much time it took me to finish this report. Barack Obama came. He was not given a stage right under the Brandenburger Tor, where the German football team shared cheers with the most sought after dumbo’s from German television, but he was offered a kind of ‘taxi zum klo.’ He stood right under the Siegessäule, the pillar with the golden angel on top. Not my expected one million people showed up, but with a crowd of two hundred thousand he still could beat a German chancellor who had held the record for more then seventy years. I claimed Obama’s appearance as an imaginary concert at my festival, since no one ever presented the rally as his or her event.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

16 august in kule, auguststrasse 10 berlin mitte

What to expect?
For sure it won't be a regular evening of field recordings:
This evening will focus on the imitation of nature.
And nature is the great reservoir of sounds.
Scholars are talking about caves
and the pictogrammes on the walls:
deer and buffles,
hunting and dancing.
Caves with resonances
that would carry the sounds into nature.

Did they imitate those sounds at those times?
Would they have done it for artistic reasons?
Or had they already figured out
that they had to bow to some
higher being?

Will the scene on the 16th August resemble a cage or just a venue? What is to be found at the heart of field recording?
Can the human voice help?
Can radiowaves lead us to a way of better understanding.
Is there life on earth?

Forget all the questions.

Come and see
Minuit DelaCroix,
Seiji Morimoto & Francesco Cavaliere
do a mindbubbling show at Kule,
and maybe they will touch
your soul
as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Tao of Sound – Michael Northam, Soichiro Mitsuya and Alessandro Bosetti

1. Sound and Archeology, Sound and Biology, Sound and Cannibalism, Sound and Dermatology, Sound and Endomorphism, Sound and Futility, Sound and Geometry, Sound and Holography, Sound and Industries, Sound and Justice, Sound and Kinesthesia, Sound and Loathing, Sound and Marxism, Sound and Neighbors, Sound and Orthography, Sound and Picasso, Sound and Quaternity, Sound and Revolution, Sound and Space, Sound and Triviality, Sound and Universalizability, Sound and Villosity, Sound and Warfare, Sound and Xenophobia, Sound and Yoghurt, Sound and Zen.

2. The most popular combination of all is Sound and Architecture. Of course it is just another sign of the times. The success of an architect like Calatraves is a flag on the building of popular opinions. His monuments magnify the esthetics of the 55cent shops.

3. Communication happens by means of slogans or by the use of one sole word: Architecture. It combines power, control and structure. It evokes movement and decisions. It promises a better world. It doesn’t make any sound, because it is just a word to describe a discipline.

4. Building houses and palaces must be one of the oldest professions in the world. To imagine that it is even older then prostitution would radically change the view on our society and its history. Architecture is closely related to the law. But it is also closely related to the occult side of the law. And it is closely related to human engineering: designing ways of living.

5. Every new form of power attracts its supporters. At the beginning of the 21.Century the editorial revolution started by managers has almost come to its end. The new world looks great in the designer magazines, in the frivolous bars and restaurants, in the restructured and partially rebuilt bigger and smaller city centers. The new look is the result of politics and architecture. Architecture and Sound. Get a special permission, get a nametag, design sound.

6. Index of an imaginary exhibition on Sound Art: Architecture and Morality in the Dark Ages. Joan of Arc meets Enola Gay. Movies and Modernism. Lights and Glasses. Gallery of Thoughts. Benzedrine. The Shorelines of Waste. The Tao of Sound. The Sounds are Down.

7. There is always a before and an after, even if you’d like to discuss the beginnings of the Universe. Marcel Türkowsky was one of the first persons I met in Berlin. He was playing Asa Stahl`s found tapes in a twelve square meter gallery in the Torstrasse. Indian voices and instruments were turned into blissful layers of sounds by his loop machine. Meanwhile we talked. Months later we were part of the Tape Only Gang that played over twenty concerts in Berlin during the summer of 2006. When we exhausted all possibilities to tear down the walls with our lyrical tape noises, I invented das kleine field recordings festival. Marcel is one of the dkfrf – veterans. He was close to desolation when he had to cancel his appearance at the 3rd edition, due to severe toothaches. Then he started traveling. In fact he traveled so far, that I had the impression he’d never come back.

8. Nothing had changed when he returned to dkfrf. We talked when the concerts were done. Somewhere behind the black windows in the Lenaustrasse people were contemplating their phone calls to complain about the noises. I asked Marcel about this new thing, this soundendarchitecture everybody talked about. It is hard to follow discussions by connoisseurs. He explained. He was qualified to explain because he had studied the subject. And then he talked as an office worker. And I understood that I might as well forget right away what he was explaining.

9. Then two or more weeks passed. The thoughts got covered by the fermentations of time. Some thoughts are like passionflowers.

10. Michael Northam is from Indianapolis. I saw Indianapolis once, when I was in a car driving from Louisville to Chicago. Indiana was a flat stretch of land. It reminded me of the Netherlands. Indianapolis was a town on the horizon. It was there for a while. The skyscrapers reflected some sunlight. And then it was not there anymore. There was green land instead, for hours and hours. On the way back it rained without end.

11. It took Michael some time to arrive in India. When he performed at the festival he had just finished a six months stay. His suntan was from an Indian sun. For his achievements during a musical career that spans over more then twenty years, he should have been the main act. I made him play first. Michael looks like a person who could take care of a hard winters work. With the right hat on, he could be one of the Amish people: his set made the venue glow for the rest of the evening.

12. Boxes you can buy in India. They are smaller then a bird’s cage. The boxes produce drones. The boxes look like boxes. They contain sitar drones or harmonium drones. I guess Indians put them next to their little house altar, burn incense, put the switch on, and pray; they won’t have a PA and big speakers in the room to have the drones float from their doors and windows into the dense Indian night.

13. When the last drones had died down on the nearby Kottbusserdamm it was exactly that dense Indian night that fell upon us. It was almost tangible. Behind the visitors that were seated on the floor a parallel world unfolded itself: a night on the countryside with distant voices and a sky with zillions of stars. Michael walked around, played a shrieking flutesomething, his clothes still smelling of India. Too bad he had to take us back to Neukölln with another drone that scared the neighbors out of their easy chairs.

14. Soichiro Mitsuya showed me his walkmen a few years ago, and asked if he could join our Tape Only collective. Soichiro played loud, because of noise attitudes. But what is noise? If a sheet big enough to catch the winds of the most severe hurricane could be held up, it would mold itself to the most beautiful forms.

15. This cassette Walkman is always with him. If you live on the poor side of Berlin, all your crossroads come together on Alexander square. Such an ugly square. Ever since he came to live in Berlin, construction works were going on. He passed it in the middle of the night, on weekdays and peace days. The square was always filled with noise. He started to record.

16. Construction noises were shaped into a choir of mechanical voices. Neighbors had wondered about Indian drone machines, now they heard the mating calls of prosperity. People endured hours and hours of everyday life drills: to them those noises must be part of a greater design. To Soichiro they came from a breeding place of trash. His treatments made them sound good.

17. As soon as the room was vibrating with the hidden sounds of Alexanderplatz, Soichiro started to lecture. He always does this. Our listeners bended forward, frowned, tried to listen hard, but his voice was just under the surface of sound. He had a large cylindrical self-built loudspeaker that would tremble and shake: it was a representation of the television tower. It nearly fell down. At the end he stood up and walked to the sliding doors. He played the sliding doors, used them as a giant fan, and said it was hot inside. Then he thanked everyone and wanted to know if there were any questions. Months later I still meet people who had seen his performance. They all laugh and tell me how remarkable it was.

18. Break

19. Alessandro Bosetti moved from Milan to Berlin. I knew him by name. He was one of the seven musicians who always played at Ausland, a club in Berlin that once was known for their fine concerts. But since the programmers adapted a more sectarian policy, concerts are getting scarce. Then he moved to Baltimore, a place where a lot of experimentalists are gathered. But when I asked a good friend of mine why he’d never performed there, living so close, his answer was: ”45 minutes to the ghetto.” Funny enough I would need just as much time to arrive at Ausland.

20. Alessandro’s is another known name in this small world of ours. Even my girlfriend knows him. His sound of the month appeared every evening shortly before midnight on the little radio in her kitchen in Wuppertal. Last year he was praised for his African recordings. Last year private reasons made him cancel his show at dkfrf.

21. This year he succeeded in setting up a tour of Europe. On the festival day he arrived from Prague, a young man wearing a white shirt carrying his belongings in a little mobile suitcase. On the way to my house and his dish of the day (pumpkin stew cooked following an old avignonaise recipe) he talked about a radical visitor to his Praguean performance that never stopped ranting. Part of the audience thought the man had been recruited to act as an upsetter.

22. After the break Alessandro sat down and started to talk, not using a microphone. Unclear if it was an introduction, and disturbed by the voices from outside I had difficulties following the contents. It was only after picking up some geographical indications (Manhattan as a small island in the north) that it came across my mind that he was impersonating a traveler to the new world when that world was still new. The pedantry of those early raconteurs added a beautiful touch to his performance. One could imagine a young man traveling around to collect plants and stones.

23. This follower of the natural history of science, however, was investigating the great variety of languages that were spoken in the various regions in the southeast of what now are called the United States of America. We heard voices coming from the eighteenth century that for their sound alone was a pleasure to listen to.

24. My guests had also planned to play a set together. This turned out to be a surprise and gift to everyone present on that evening, yours sincerely included.

25. This all happened far away from any discourse or theory.