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25 February: A new episode of DKFRF

The Sound of Thought

Scroll down for information on the next episode of das kleine field recordings festival:

Ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union four members of the Leningrad Philharmonic escaped from the Russian winter and went on tour. I saw them on Dutch television. I saw them also play next to the entrance of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The string quartet played beautifully. Onlookers were very generous. In front of the camera they said that they earned more money as street musicians then as part of the Philharmonic orchestra back home. A few weeks later I saw them again in Malaga, city of palm trees and Mediterranean Sea. Also a winter in Amsterdam can be cold, especially if you have to play on the streets.

Another ten years later trained musicians can get a permission to play in the subterranean walkways that connect the platforms of the subway system. Other trained musicians, who were more lucky or more trained or more talented or deeper rooted in a network can still play as a part of a Philharmonic orchestra in one of the many concert halls that were built and designed for the performance of orchestral music.

These concert halls with their architecture, acoustic qualities, programming and its institutional micro-cosmos are an important expression of the achievements of western civilisation. Hence, the music performed in there defines and re-assures western culture. But what gets defined and re-assured by trained musicians who play on the streets or under it?

It took a Dutchman to invent a machine to sell air. Gas stations have installed this machine. You insert one euro and you get one minute of high pressure air in return. It is not as radical as claiming the air as property and sell it by cubical meters. Also here a question can be raised. Thanks to the air sounds can be heard and recorded. Do these sounds have a copyright?

Another achievement of western culture is the invention of machines that can record and reproduce sound. People who work with sound have also machines at their disposal that can change the nature of this sound drastically. The primal bang is not necessarily a tune that classical trained ears recognize as music. The hum of a refrigerator or a bumble bee can be used as well.  But also the recording of a trained musician who plays ‘Einstein on the Beach’ at the Metro stop of Odeon in Paris can be used. Another fine question: to whom does this music belong once it has ended on my recorder? Can I use it again in one of my performances without having to pay for its copyrights? And why should I use this particular recording, which comes with the sounds of foot steps, random conversations, the distant calling of the metro train?

Western culture finds its expression in the works of Hildegard von Bingen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Serge Gainsbourg or his daughter by means of their music. All through the centuries instruments got invented to add different tunes or nuances to music. Music defined the instruments and the instruments defined the music. In most households playback devices are used to listen to this music.

In the margins of sub-culture, those margins that only catch some light when a police torch shines on it, the little effect machines, the playback and recording devices, are used to not only manipulate sound; with it the artist creates a completely new work of art, for which a common denominator still has to be found.

If art expresses a period in time or a moment in eternity, then this new art form in all its turmoil is in the first place a manifesto. The declaration is not put in words, because words get absorbed by other words and then find their deplorable end in a blog or among zillions of other words on printed pages. The message is in its repetition. With every performance and mini-release a marginal culture gets defined and re-assured.

One first step out of the great confusion is marked by the use of field recordings. The listener leaves the bomb shelter and can see more clearly. The artist uses recording and playback devices as his instrument. Sounds are used from our immediate environment. To play back a simple recording creates certain awareness, defines and re-assures our appearance in history at a certain place and time. Paradoxically enough, dislocation creates unification. Awareness is created, not by means of words, but by playing back the sounds of the environment.

Playing field recordings is not a form of music, but a form of free speech. In quite a few cases the intrinsic moral message is just a few liner notes away: to take care of our environment. Apart from the activist point of view the new art form is also an expression of a thorough research on how to re-organize social life on a non-institutional and non-commercial level. It points at intuition. It also wants to provoke a shift of perception in which the apparent not seems to be so apparent. It points at responsibility for the world we live in as a clear reaction to consumerism.

Therefore elements from our environment get incorporated, defined and re-defined in the work of sound, thus creating a three-dimensionality that stretches through diverse layers of time. It is this quality that clearly distinguishes the new art form from music.

On 25th February

Marta Zapp will use playback devices and use source material recorded and or found by herself

Kris Limbach and Pierce Warnecke will perform in two seperate rooms, using a fish tank, various objects, playback devices, recordings made or found by themselves and audio communication system in order to interact with the sounds each one of them produces.

She Will Be Beautiful (Anton Mobin and Rinus van Alebeek) will use various playback devices and use sounds that were recorded on four different places in Europe during the shortest night of the year 2011.

 

14.August, DKFRF, The Festival that never will be

Daydreams blur the borders of reality, change our surrounding world into a kind of wonderland. Recently I went to visit my own festival, a festival that never will be. Famous and not so famous architects talked about the drone of big city’s or how the city sounds bounce back from the hills of Rio de Janeiro and thus create this wild jumpy rhythm. Shanty towns are so chaotically laid out that spiraling melodies seem a very natural musical reproduction of this structure. We would hear in sound and word how big buildings not only produce but also direct and transform the traffic noises. A modern day city dweller would feel lost in a silent town. City noises create their own dynamics, and contribute to development of new ways of thinking.

Also scientists would be there to tell us that communication between plants is based on sound. We would hear those sonic impulses from the micro world, and learn that also we, speaking our languages, use the bare sound of it to communicate, that it doesn’t come down to words alone.

Ach, long distance communication between whales, navigation systems from the birds, the love call of snails, chaos theory and the buzzes of domestic flies, cosmic winds, tectonian moves, vulcanoes, tornadoes and crickets on a hot summer day, suddenly every visitor and participant alike would find pleasure in anecdotes about things they had heard and could not describe in words.

In comes the artist. Each one of them would be commissioned to use the scientific and architectural and filologic and geo-specific sounds and compile a story of it, a work of art that would cause for each listener to daydream himself to a different place.

There would also be a blindfolded sound walk in this festival that will never be. Not the one as we know it, o no. Participants would be brought to different places in a stretch limousine with blinded windows. Not able to see where they are going, together in a moving capsule they would hear strange abstract sounds. As soon as the car stopped, they would be blindfolded. They entered buildings with peculiar smells, sizzlings and tapperings, mumbles, squeeks and bits of conversation. Back to the car, and of to some place in town, a bit aside of the traffic saturated part of it, another walk. Then to an abandoned site, with distant almost undetectable whispers of all kinds. At the end of this sound walk each participant should talk about the things they had imagined.

O yes, it is all possible in a day dreamed world. I guess it is this kind of imagination that fuels not only my own performances. It also determines who I choose to play at my ongoing attempt to set up a festival:

14. August, 21.30hours
Das Kleine Field Recordings Festival
with
Anton Mobin/JD Zazie
and
Young Horse Piano
at
Valentin Stüberl
Donaustrasse 112
Berlin
U7 Rathaus Neukölln

BERLIN – a Sound Installation by Rinus van Alebeek

For the sound installation BERLIN over two-thousand new CD-’s in their original package will be used to cover the floor of the two rooms in the gallery. The title of the exhibition will be shown on the window:  3′ CD’s, also in their original package, will be used to form the word ´BERLIN.`

To see the name of the city and behind it a floor covered by CD’s  is going to be the first encounter for the visitor. The pattern might reveal an image, or give a first impulse to a filosofical or aesthetical discourse.

The sound installation, initially put on mute, represents a possible Berlin, just as all the new immigrants who over the last years have chosen the city as their home have left their countries with an idea of a possible Berlin.

The German capital has a lot on offer. Yet many small and even smaller events go unnoticed. The visitors walk around, see bars and people sit in the sun who drink their beer, but hardly see what is under their feet.

Once the guests of Sucked Orange Gallery enter the space and step on the CD-floor, they will not only discover new patterns. They have to decide how to walk. The decision is a result of a certain emotion. The decision will create a sound.

Visitors are invited to use the installation as an instrument and bring a recording device to memorize their steps.

The CD-’s used in the exhibition can be purchased for 50 cents.

Opening on Saturday 9. July at 19.00

Closing on Sunday 10. July at 19.00

BERLIN, a Sound Installation is made possible with the kind help of Staalplaat label and Audiotong.

19. June Tales for Tapes – The Analogue Edition

Before the advent of internet I used to send, but also receive a lot of postcards. I kept those cards on a visible place until I decided to throw out the anchor and store them in a shoe box. One attraction of the postcard is the immediate satisfaction combined with a rush of excitement: it managed to define a moment in time, as a kind of snapshot.

Today twitter seems to have replaced the postcard. But not only. Handheld recording machines and mobile phones are more and more used to send out audio postcards. Maps and netlabels are flourishing all over the web. Mostly these recordings are tagged ‘field recrdings’ but are they?

In this article Schoenberg has some words for the radio. With a bit of malicious pleasure one could replace ‘radio’ with ‘handheld recording devices.’ It is easy to imagine how a new generation of recordists present their work in a performance: with a laptop.

In the previous editions of dkfrf I had numerous artists playing their work from a laptop. In those days these artists presented meticulously prepared sound works. But over the last years I came to realize that a laptop performance transmits an artist/computer/network situation, rather then a story in sound.

I organized the dkfrf out of curiosity. I wanted to enter a world made out of environmental recordings, a world full of mystery, distance and a sense of exotism: a reality at the other side of the mirror.

Field recordings as an art form opens up to a lot of possibilities. There is manifold expressions. To organize a proper festival one needs time, a staff, a venue and money. Above all, one needs a big talent to administre all possibilities.
And here is the problem. I organize from an artist’s point of view, not as a manager. I try to push boundaries and move to extremes. Maybe that’s why dkfrf has a small audience, and will continue to atract only those few.

Anyway, my next move is into analogue territories. Recordings made on magnetic tape, recordists as racconteurs, who are able to recreate an experience or a fascination in word and sound, sound poets who delve into an intimist world, modern day explorers who come to report in, will be my future guests. Dkfrf will focus on the story rather then on the sonic experience. If this means that it will become more marginal then so be it.

Next edition
will bring the sound poet maudit Romano Krzych, the Babylonean diktaphone/double bass quartet Diktat and the visionaires Rebus and Hars with their tales of the lost and found.

at
Sucked Orange Gallery
Emserstrasse 91
U8 + S-Bahn Hermannstrasse

on
Sunday 19 June, from 19.00 onwards

This evening is also a part of the tales for tapes series, initiated by Anton Mobin in Paris. Previous tales for tapes evenings were held In Paris, Berlin and Bruxelles.

An Example

While my reflections on how to go on with the das kleine field recordings festival are still flowing to its completion, a fine example of what a part of the programme could look like is provoked by my invitation to John Grzinich.

Here is his programme of activities:
On 15 September he will screen his movie
sound aspects of material elements
at the altes finanzamt (click for details, address and time)

On 17 and 19 september he will conduct a workshop on
sound mapping
This workshop is full. Details on website.

On 18 september he will perform his work
strings
in the rote salon/volksbühne
Since the Volksbühne doesn’t care a fuck about our evening,
you won’t find any information on their website.

Apart from the John Grzinich week,
a new edition of Tales for Tapes will be held at
Raum 20 in the ziegrastrasse in Berlin,
near the S-Bahn Sonnenallee.

This Tales for Tapes will be the sixth edition of a series started by Anton Mobin in Berlin. Links to articles (1, 2, 3) on the audio cassette were posted recently on the cassette culture group . Also a link to a listing of more the 100 cassette labels was published. The artists who use the magnetic tape and the tape player as the central medium in their performances still linger in limbo.

The Tales for Tapes series is a showcase for those artists. After the very well attended evenings with Aki Onda and Preslav Literary School, this evenings edition will see two Berlin visitors in action. One of them is Anna Vo, whose work is somehow reminiscent of Adam Preslav’s but moves more slowly, and towards an other continent of course, listen here ear or here hear. Second guest is Blenno und die Wurstbrücke, who combines Arte povera with very crappy but therefore beautiful looking tape machines to create a soundtrtack for a comic strip. The third act will announce its name soon, because they (we ) have a different name for each show.

15 September, 21.00
first concert at 21.30
Tales for Tapes vol.6
Anon
Blenno und die Wurstbrücke
A&R (provisionary title)

at
RaumXX
Ziegrastrasse 11
Berlin Neukölln
S+U-Bahn Sonnenallee

3. August – Tales for Tapes volume 5

One of the reasons that I started to organize Das Kleine Field Recordings Festival was to offer a space to musicians other then the numerous websites where the results of their work got published in what ever format. Through the years I learned from discussions the multiple ways that existed to mould recordings into a composition. A variety of artists performed at my little no budget festival; all of them found a generous audience who listened to their performance with remarkable attention.

A few years later my vision on field recordings has become a bit more radical. Of course there are other ways to define this genre then is done by wikipedia. That’s why I stick to a negation to make my point clear. Field Recordings are not Studio Recordings. My difficulty comes with the use of computer in the process of composing. The modern computer is much better equipped then the studio’s of the days when artists went out to record their music. I want imperfection to be heard. I want the human presence to be heard. I am not interested in a musical composition. I want to hear recordings used to tell a story.

Another experience that shifted my view is the development of my personal career, and the encounters I have made. Apart from Berlin where I live, the major inspiration comes from my visits and sonic encounters in Paris. I am very much enchanted by the thrift store style I found. A style that doesn’t limit itself to producing sound, but also adds the childhood fantasy to it: the one where objects get animated and start to live. Indeed this is how stories come into being.

My main instruments are tapes. On these tapes are my recordings. I look with special interest to colleagues who use the same medium. The Tales for Tapes series by Anton Mobin inspired me to organize the same event also in Berlin. The title speaks for it self. The first evening in Berlin with Aki Onda was a major success. An artist who strives for perfection, he managed to create an acoustic space where sound was almost liquid: it was everywhere. The audience listened attentively, but also experienced the warm bath of sound. And they saw someone actually perform and create a composition by handling his tapes and cassette players.

On 3. August, Tales for Tapes volume 5 will take place at Altes Finanzamt in Berlin. Prior to that evening there are three days of recording sessions in the basement of the Staalplaat Store. More D.I.Y and cassette culture then field recordings, every one who joins cannot escape form the fact that his/her recordings are not made in a studio and that he/she will stumble upon the imperfection of the medium. You don’t have to be an alchemist to understand the importance of imperfection.

The evening in Altes Finanzamt will start at seven o’clock with a presentation of the Blind Tape Quartets, read the result of the recordings sessions the week before. Participants and an interested audience alike can come and use or get informed on the use of a four track recorder. The recordings will be mixed on one tape, and maybe another one, and this or these tapes are a release of Blind Tape. Any instructive or anecdotic talk on the use of magnetic tape can be understood as a first attempt to set up a Tape Academy.

The concerts will start at 21.45. with a duo performance by me ( Rinus van Alebeek) and Lukatoyboy, the label owner of Blind Tape. Luka Ivanovic is from Belgrade. He is young enough to have missed the rise and fall of the cassette as a major medium to reproduce music. I am not. What this will sound like when we play together is unclear until you are there to witness it.

The second guest of the evening is Adam Thomas (aka Preslav literary School ) who made everyone stop talking in the background ever since he gave his first concert in Berlin. Often enough eulogised by me, I cannot stop to emphasize how original and delicate his soundings are. Enough to witness, his hands always travelling over two square meters filled with all kinds of (mini-) cassette players, he captures again and again his audience in an opera that travels beyond the realms of literature and music; what you hear might be the sound track of one of your dearer dreams.

The Tales for Tapes series will continue in Paris and in Berlin. As for now I see it as an extension of Das Kleine Field Recordings Festival. Though I have received requests from overseas visitors to perform at the DKFRF, I couldn’t find the one good reason to set up another regular episode. Maybe it will happen in the future, once I have found a way to go on.

3.August

Tales for Tapes volume 5
With
Blind Tape Quartets (BTQ)
Preslav Literary School
Lukatoyboy vs Rinus van Alebeek

BTQ from 19.00 to 21.00
Concerts start at 21.45

Altes Finanzamt
Schönstedt strasse 7 ( entrance via courtyard)
U7 Rathaus Neukölln (exit Schönstedtstrasse)

Listen to the Break

Listen to an interview for radio zero’s The Sound of Spaces in Lisbon by Paulo Raposo: part one and part two.

Topics are das kleine field recordings festival, field recordings in general, composing and cooking. The setting is a typical Berliner kneipe with some strange music in the background and obscure colleagues engaged in light verse in the foreground