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Concert Review/ Room40 meets Faitiche

img  Tobias Fischer

Tonight Jan Jelinek, Mo Loschelder, Andrew Pekler, Tim Tetzner, Kassian Troyer and Holger Zapf perform 'Schleusen', a work by late German composer Ursula Bogner. To be honest, the story behind the name is more fascinating than the music. Jelinek met Bogner's son in a plane en route to Vilnius and learnt about Ursula Bogner's existence and hobby (she was a pharmacist but created early electronic music as a pleasurable pastime). Eventually Jelinek received the tape recordings and scores from her son: a couple of years ago Jelinek's label Faitiche issued a compilation containing 16 works by Bogner (Recordings 1969-1988) in which vintage synth sounds popped-up like Champagne bubbles. Quietly, suspicion, along with a story behind the story, arose. What if the unearthing of this pioneering musician was a hoax? What if Bogner's primitive talent was an excuse for Jelinek to liberate himself from the present and make simple, playful and innocent electronic music like in the old days? Yes, what if. Make up your mind if you can.

'Schleusen' is less fun than most Bogner's works presented on 'Recordings 1969-1988'. It's a drone-based composition written for six signal generators. Each performer is standing in front of his tiny generator and a personal graphic score. Blankets of synthetic sound interweave and pass over one another in a rather ascetic way but each drone is a wave and you can hear the periodic oscillation. Two waves approach each other, catch the same frequency (or the same amplitude) and at times, one goes flat - all these are sonic micro-events for the ears and you have to put yourself in that state of childish wonder to be amazed.


During the next show, the Faitiche mischievousness is back. Berlin-based vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita plays some mild, jazzy notes and Jelinek builds electronic patterns in a carefree mood while live-processing some of Fujita's sounds. The vibraphone is used with extended techniques: sometimes it is covered with mallets, various objects, an aluminium sheet. The atmosphere is hard to grasp and describe, always shifting away from jazz to ambient with  sweet granular noise. It almost brings back memories of some loose and loungey trip-hop tracks from the 90s, only without beats. After all, many of Jelinek's projects are unique mixtures of music from various genres and eras, and are meant to puzzle. Tonight's production could be the soundtrack of dreams or the content of a dream about music, all fluffy and blurry.


John Chantler's solo reminds you, if need be, of how extensive the analog synth's frequency and texture spectrum is. After a long introduction in which bass muttering rumbles like primordial chaos organising itself, Chantler takes unexpected turns, heading towards places you would never have thought of, and his sounds gain momentum. The language spoken here is quite magnificent and mysterious, as venerable and intimidating as a sphinx's riddle. The performance as a whole can be seen as a line, a time line with a beginning and a direction, and hundreds of intermediary vectors like fake meanderings. You come to think of that 'labyrinth which is composed of a single straight line, and which is indivisible, incessant' (Borgès). That is the kind of feeling you get, but you don't really feel trapped, probably because people are chatting loud around us, which makes it somewhat more difficult to be completely filled with cosmic awe. Anyway, a stunning performance.


Unlike Chantler, Room 40 label head Lawrence English pumps up the volume, just enough to cover people's voices and make the conversations stop. As a result, not only do we get volume, we also get shitloads of sonic details. Structured like a simple parabola, the set is beautiful and powerfully evocative, Fennesz-like but with more field recordings and no guitar. At its apex a mighty wind blows, carrying solid particles (fine hail?) and throwing them in your face; it also recalls English's regular journeys to Antarctica and logically spreads a sense of isolation. If Chantler translated movements of the cosmos, English scores a song of the earth. The last notes and timbres I hear are the pure idea of majesty, it's a very compelling sensation I've only felt in  very few works. A cable is  suddenly unplugged and English raises his arms like a victorious tennis champion, smiling and quickly disappearing behind the black curtains.


The evening couldn't have had a more perfect ending. Or maybe it had. It's a great shame but I couldn't stay longer to listen to the experimental pop of Tujiko Noriko Trio.

By Antoine Richard

Antoine Richard maintains the Blog „Happily the Future“ dealing with Experimental and Contemporary Art.

Homepage: Transmediale
Homepage: Room40 Records
Homepage: Faitiche Records

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