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, February 07, 2007


Her first question was if I had some information. There was non left, because we had used it to pack the Cdr, and what information could there be, if our webpages are already filling up slowly. Then she asked – during the introduction - if I could explain a bit what field recordings were. And also this question found me totally unprepaired. There I was in front of the audience, just saying a word of welcome, no tie, no suit, no speech prepaired, no filosofy that I would like to promote, and no cultural/political manifesto that I would like to shout out loud. In this age of information and commentarism, everyone is educated enough to be master of his or her own thoughts. Why should I invade that area? I used my megaphone to play Beethoven's “Für Elise.” So I left the questions unanswered.

Then Bernhard Gal played. Rob (Curgenven, our first Australian guest) leaned back against the wall, and smiled with heartful satisfaction, and so did I, when we heard Bernhard's technorecordings stumstumming the place. From my position I could look outside, and saw some kids peering through the window, investigative looks, showing that they were ready to conquer another hot spot in town. When Bernhard was ready, I had finished my reflection on field recordings, and explained that it was about a virtual space created by sound and by the person who had made the recordings. What remained was a memory of somebody else's future experience, that we can call fantasy or reflection. I put it different on that evening. And I will put it different again everytime I try to look for definitions.

One of the guests was Nick, in artist life Momus, musician, but also a very disciplined writer/ opinionist/friendly neighbour leaving a note for you when he is abroad. His day to day approach to writing explains why sunday's evening entered his lifejournal. He used a bombastic word to describe two of the performances he had seen. He had gone home when Gilles Aubry played his set of dreamy backyard recordings. The bombastic word he used was 'bombastic'. I like the idea that I would like nineteenth century French novels. Maybe I do. I recently bought two by Victor Hugo, for 50 cent each. Stendhal has been a long time favourite. Every performance by Chirac makes me laugh out loud.

Talking about someone through this medium, which is the internet, is very complicated. Words and arguments get an instant tenton weight. So let me put this clear. I felt a great sympathy for Nick from the first moment on, that I met him. I had never heard about the artist called Momus in my whole life. Now that he is part of the festival, I started to read his lifejournal. I prefer his words to almost most of the words I could buy as printed matter.

Okay. From my position I had a good view on almost everyone's back. But Nick I saw, ever more comfortably leaning into his thoughts, while listening. The result of these thoughts evolves around the word bombastic. In his view two of the performances were bombastic, it is pretentious, pompoueuoues. It is two days now that he uses this description.

There is another thing about field recordings. You can hardly dance to it. Sometimes I try, but it makes me sway like a lazy kite in a cloudless sky. (I mean rteally lazy; I also know them kites who think they are Ray Charles singing:”Baby one more time,” before setting of, head down, to earth like a Japanese kamikaze.) Back to that summer's day, and the kite hanging in the sky, and voices coming form a far. You know, the recordings can be used like postcards, as a little sound message from the other part of the world. They can be used as a diary or as a fun thing to do, while running around Berlin for three days. They can be used to compose a memory, to change it in a moment of bliss, rather then to cultivate its nostalgifying effect, like Stephan Leonard did. They can be used to undermine a theoretical approach, as Jeff Gburek did in his magnifying magnificent magnetic performance.

Maybe Jeff and Stephan will tell me that it was about something else, and yes it was about something else, because it was also considered bombastic. But if you go to the well, you will find all the pretty girls of the village. And each of the girls will be somebody's favourite. Except for the most beautifull one, because she will give you a true sense of homecoming. Imaginary homecoming of course; a home built by her love and your own fantasy, and all the words and dreams and images that fit into it.

Momus will play on friday. I look forward to visit Japan. Jeff Gburek will play again on thursday; I am most curious. I don't have to go through airports, or visit museums for that matter. It all happens outside the potemkinist depliant world of the institutions. Except for this last sentence, there is nothing bombastic about that.


Blogger derekholzer said...

Of course there are as many different ways of using and presenting field recordings as there are field recordists. The model which Momus holds up as being "not bombastic" is the work of Alejandro and Aeron, whose "honest" sentimentalism he finds quite charming and I find far too saccharine-sweet. But they utilize their materials in a very different way than I or Gilles or others do, which is far more informed by the practices of contemporary visual art, where artistic expression is equated with direct access to the personality of the artist, unfettered by the bondage of anything like technique or discipline. I can imagine that for a singer/songwriter like Momus, this is far more attractive than a lineage which goes back to Pierre Schaeffer, musique concrète and the approach to field recordings as sound objects rather than emotional signifiers which came with the acousmatic approach. Strangely enough, for me the emotional approach seems far closer to a pop "musical" treatment of sound than my own preferred approach--that of treating sound as a raw material taken from one acoustic space to be overlayed on top of another. So, in honor of Momus, my set tonight will be unabashedly, honestly and truly bombastic. Maybe on Friday I'll serenade him instead...

12:35 pm

Blogger derekholzer said...

Antoine Chessex has posted his review of Gilles performance (along with Mattin and Thomas Ankersmit the following night at Zentrale Randlage). His impression (mine as well) was that the sounds Gilles used were entirely *without* processing. Just clear, honest and well-recorded environmental sounds rather than too much software. Of course, it takes all kinds of field recordists to make a festival. Had fun last night, see you all tomorrow night.

1:56 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I wrote in my entry, Nick (aka Momus) hadn't seen Gilles playing.


2:46 pm


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