April 2, 3 and 4 reports and comments
Wednesday April 2 might have been the last time that the Wendel Bar hosted the festival. Martin, one of the owners, who has been a loyal supporter from the very beginning of dkfrf, brought the bad news. Inspired by international warning signs, pure logic and a notion of the invisible and the invincible, he made clear that the way the artist’s rights were protected in Germany was not compatible with the festival’s idea of protecting the artist’s rights.
This said and done, the strict policy of convincing everyone to pay, changed into a non-violence attitude, which is so en vogue these days. Like a blind man just having arrived from Eastern Europe, I went around with a piece of paper. On it was written, that I would accept a mini-sponsorship of 5 euro. One out of twenty people paid 4 euro. A group of seven young Basques shared a five-euro mini sponsorship between them. Very cute. Unfortunately they thought that the contribution came with a bonus: a vocal feature during the first performance of the evening.
This episode of the festival showed the crossroad character of Berlin. Perri Lynch, a Seattle based sound artist and sailor, on a Grand Tour in Europe with her partner Jim, had just freshly arrived from Budapest and would continue for Nice. The four young man of the Paris based ensemble Les Molaires de L’Est were on their way to Gdansk. Colin at some time had left his hometown Vancouver to explore the remote regions of Nepal. He, in fact, was still under the spell of that visit, having left the country just a week before coming to Germany.
Colin performed as Broken Sleep, but thanks to the participation of the Bilbo’ Boys (in the classification loudest countries in the world, Spain ranks third) his performance evolved into a Broken Concert. It started and ended with the chants of monks, and in between there were myriads of harmonic drones. Since Colin had done some trekking, an activity that requires solitude and silence, his performance must have brought him memories of the tourists he had met on his way. Spanish tourists. To my regret I had difficulties to penetrate the veil of drones and could hardly get a glimpse of the colorful world behind it. Colin had been there. His comment was a sigh and the notion that all those experiences were captured in twenty-five minutes, and that it was all over. Maybe the recording will become available. The ears of his razor/recording device were closer to the loudspeakers then mine. Once I have heard it, I can give a more accurate review.
Perri Lynch came second. And, praise and glory to the muses, our mini sponsors from Bilbao had decided to leave. She started with a weather forecast, a lady’s voice recorded from a radio broadcast. To it came a man’s voice from the radio, of course talking in a different key. Just when I started to wonder how she would go on, Perri amazed me with the introduction of a melody playing along to those voices in perfect harmony. Then I knew this was going to be a great concert. Voices came and went and with the same calm rhythm the melodies floated on or entwined with those voices. It was relaxing and fascinating at the same time, a soundtrack to some dear memories or a monument to the fragility of time. It was also entertaining to see her at work: a laptop, and two ipods, as if she was working from a control room. You can listen to the result for yourself; In my humble opinion Perri Lynch is a musician that could find an interested audience beyond the confines of phonography. She got involved in a series of dkfrf activities the days after, through which I managed to understand her work better. But first let me dedicate some words to the eastern molaires.
I had seen Cedric Anglaret in concert before, together with two of his friends, in a grey gallery close to Pigalle in Paris. Back then they looked like postmen solemnly at work in their office. They went through their sounds kind of leisurely. If I had seen this concert recently I would have had strong doubts to invite them. But there were some good reasons to have confidence. 1. They still existed, meaning they had grown. 2. The trio was now a quartet, meaning there had been a person who got inspired to join them. 3.They wanted to come and perform in Berlin, one of the global capitals for our kind of music, meaning they had balls.
Well, to say it right away: every one out there who sets up festivals or related events should invite the molaires: they are the most hilarious group that I have seen since the Marx Brothers. Not that they are just funny, the music makes great sense, but there is a touch of electrified humor to it that only the French can produce. It is a precise combination of intellectual discourse tackled by absurd statements, of narrative recordings put side by side to sonic acrobatics. Great comics like Sarkozy can combine all of these characteristics in one facial expression. Even if they were using the laptop, the four of them were as agile and jumpy as any pop group that plays more traditional instruments. There was a constant interaction between them through eye contact. There was constant movement as they leaned over to each other to say something. Every member of the audience was doing its best not to burst out laughing aloud, (let me repeat) not because they were ridiculous, but because their way of talking and joking through their sounds was spectacularly funny. Vraiment, a must for every festival.
One Day Later and One More Day Later, Too
Many millions of years ago fish walked out of the sea and some of them became human beings much later on, when history started to make sense. It is also true that eighty percent of our body is water, which makes us a bit similar to lettuce. On the mystical side of life, one can state that most part of our existence is made up of nothing but energy, because of the structure of the atoms. Talking about atoms: the elements liberated during the Big Bang are still among us. To state it even bolder, everything is still the same: nothing was lost and nothing was gained. Our sounds are made of the same particles that built up to the most orchestral crescendo God has ever heard.
Most of the talks by Perri Lynch on the evening at Udo Noll’s Studio Aporee were about navigation, either about finding fixed points in a landscape or installing them. The nominator for this activity is ‘cognitive mapping’, (= being in a landscape as we experience it, rather then GPS or road signs are telling us.) During the live presentation of her website Udo came up with a lot of footnotes, which made it more easy for Perri to proceed with her lecture.
Some sounds were played, among which the representation of a soliton struck me most. A soliton is a big tsunami like wave that travels over the surface of the ocean. Occasionally such a wave encounters another wave. Ms Lynch demonstrated this by moving her hands with wavelike speed towards each other, as if she was going to clap hands, or say an Ave Maria. But when those waves meet, they pass through each other, without loosing speed or energy: no collapse, no violence. And no handclap or prayer: her hands moved pass each other, as if in the moment of meeting they had become transparent.
The key to understanding it all came at the very end of the evening. When everybody had left the studio/living room I asked Udo the meaning of ‘velocity made good’, the name of Perri’s website. I heard it was an expression from sailing. With all the information I got that evening, something sparkled. When we (and Cedric Anglaret) met again the next day at Total, to prepare a radio show for Cedric’s La Pointe d’Iceberg, I asked her for how long she had been sailing. With her hand she indicated time: she had started when she was knee high. Then later in the program she told that she was always taking care of navigation; the radio voice telling the weather forecast and other news was always in the background. Now I only had to imagine the movements of the sea and listen again.