In Carsten Seiffarth’s 2009 essay for the Goethe Institute, Sound Art was called a “New Art Form.” As in – it is an established artform but it only plays a fringe role on the outskirts of the art world, as visitors to galleries will testify.
One of the reasons this may be happening is that the very oeuvre of Sound Art is inextricably linked to the location it is presented at. For example, take a look/listen to the World Expo in Brussels, 1958, at which Varese debuted Poèm électronique.
The same goes for Plaqué by Peter Schubert & Andrea Usenbenz. These works are tied up with spatial as well as historic roots. There is the element of the snapshot of a time when you listen back to the recording of an installation – summoning the genii locus of a place & time & modus operandi long since vanished.
Plus, if you couple the fact that there are few art galleries equipped to deal solely with sound art … well, that is in part the ceremony of the modern day vinyl revival that has made vinyl hold out against CDs and Digital. People go to a gallery to look at an image; they create a ceremony out of it as opposed to looking at the image online. People create a ceremony out of listening to vinyl – and the same should be for all forms of audio, even birdsong. Is that lost with sound art on a home system? Not if you create a ceremony out of it.
A question that could be asked in the case of “Plaqué” by Usenbenz & Schubert: is it “just” an archival recording of a long gone performance? As with Varese’s Poème électronique, “Plaqué” was created for a specific event. Plaqué marked the 200th birthday of Daniel Straub, whose diligence in Geislingen shaped the small German town for decades to come. It was he who was involved in the construction of the railroad line and founded the famous company called WMF, which produces kitchenware and cutlery to this date.
Usenbenz and Schubert traced Straub’s history in the Geislingen of our present, walking around the modern versions of his old haunts. The collected field recordings were presented as a live performance. This served as a preliminary work and a basis for the work now published herein.
“Plaqué” is not just a recorded performance, it is an advanced work, a new composition containing additionally recorded material. It gently loosens its spacial and temporal roots without losing its contextual base. The result is strangely fascinating and universally relevant, slow in temperament – almost a churched requiem with the undertones of an organ. It is an independent piece of sound art, which deserves the same form of attention and appreciation as a painting or a sculpture. Even if it’s not a unique piece, entering one art collection, but an edition that will be enjoyed by 200 collectors.
“Plaqué” will be released on Klanggold on December 18th 2017.
Dear Friends. We set up a Kickstarter Project for a new Album (CD/DVD). Maybe you´ll like it and help us to make it possible. please find more information here:
<a href=”https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/263515262/maschinenfabrik-cd-dvd-digipack” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>https://www.kickstarter.com/…/maschinenfabrik-cd-dvd-digipa…</a>
Thank you so much.
Two field recordists and soundsculptors, a birthday jubilee, a cultural event, a factory and its history are the ingredients of the project “Maschinenfabrik”, the first full length release of this project by Andreas Usenbenz & Peter Schubert.
We need your support to get this sound piece released on CD and the video art on DVD
Here is the first Audio Preview:
Bell’s Breath transforms the tolling of the bells in the Ulm Minster into a work of sound art. This project by Andreas Usenbenz was created for the 125th anniversary of the minster spire’s completion and was presented in the form of an audio installation inside the minster in the fall of 2015. Andreas Usenbenz is self-taught. Since 2000, he is working in sound-art between field recording, composition and improvisation. For his work Usenbenz primarily uses sounds from his immediate surroundings. These sounds can be sampled directly from the environment. They serve as starting material for his compositions. Drone Music or musique concrète, Ambient are genres which are heavily connected to Andreas work. Andreas Usenbenz has taken a raw recording of the tolling of the minster bells at Ulm and created a piece that is disassociated with the emotion extolled by the original master. But this is no remix. The peal of the minster bells are welcome to most, but grate to others. With Bells Breath, Usenbenz re-frames a sound and emotion that is pan-European in to a work that is refreshingly astute and modern. Using layer upon layer of process sound, Usenbenz forms an ambient piece where artwork and location become an inseparable one. What the audience experiences is an amplified perception of itself. Very minimal and, dare I say it, very cool – “Bells Breath” references the minimalist artworks that came out of the late 1960’s. A new understanding of art was being developed in contrast to abstract painting. Part of it was an abandonment of categories that had been considered essential until then, like the aesthetic experience or the artists signature style. Industrially produced materials were now being used, every day objects were stripped bare of their function. Experiencing art turned into an experience of self-awareness on behalf of the audience. If you are familiar with the genre of minimal music – this album, ‘Bells Breath’ is a stand out example of the genre. Not too clever, not too flat: just right. Andrew/ sigilofbrass
“Bells Breath” is such a pure and simple concept that it is difficult to either analyse or fault. The sound of the bells of Ulm Minster, the tallest church in the world, has been digitally stretched and then layered. That’s it; plenty of bells but no whistles, no frills, very little further trickery, principally just the bell sound, inflated and resonant, mesmerising and soporific. Though it’s theoretically minimalist, the tones are rich and broad and very warm, capable of filling a space wholeheartedly. The pieces were initially created as part of a 2015 art installation within the minster itself, but out of context, as simply audio, it’s a sound with fantastic power. The main album is split into three studies. Each has a subtly different character; “Study III” is the simplest and purest. “Study IV” is somewhat darker and moodier, with very faint hints of percussive sound, distant ‘real time’ bell-ringing and occasional found sound ambience. The comparatively brief seven minutes of “Study II” sits between the two, still with dark tonality but a cleaner sound with fewer distant distractions. As a digital bonus there’s also an hour-long “sleep version” of “Study III”, though it’s scarcely any more ambient than the others and personally I don’t see why you couldn’t fall asleep to any of these pieces. Initially conceived as an in situ installation, and released on Klanggold who are themselves based in Ulm, this is a piece of art that will definitely work in your home. Stuart Bruce for Chain DLK
Another interesting sonic appetizer I received from Andreas ‘Sonovo’ Usenbetz’s imprint Klanggold seemed to have not a real signature, as the only pieces of information provided by the label about Lovver are related to its “line-up”: the band should consist of a post-rock guitarist and an avantgarde sound-mangler and noise-maker, but in spite of the lack of more details about their identities, these introductory words make sense as it could suggest the kind of sound you’ll meet while listening to this tape (or files, if you’ll choice the digital version). If you carefully check the website of the project, you’ll finally find their names out, as behind Lovver’s curtains there were the guitarist Chris Corrado together with Sonovo himself (the noise-maker), but that initial mysterious halo would have been likewise fascinating. It seems that Klanggold followed more or less the same choice of other releases, as this one includes just two tracks as well. Both of them are 10 minutes lasting and explores slightly different nuances of the same stylistic grounds. The first track “Cloud Logic” got somehow explained by his title as it’s an enjoyable intersection between board of Canada-like ethereal ambient sonorities, whose waves got slightly rippled by crispy noises, lovely elongated pad synths and a gently modified electronic groove that resembles some sonic scripts of German electronic chill-out music of the first 00’s. Clouds grow thicker in “Sermon” on the other side, whose opening minutes are a little bit more crepuscular before Lovver’s helmsmen manage to create a gap in the electronic granular net by inoculating soothing rhythmical patterns, guitar effected strokes and guitar-driven vapid melodies. Check it out!
Many releases by Klanggold are in the digital domain, and it’s certainly worthwhile checking their site for these. The two releases here, at this moment, are on cassette and both by people I haven’t heard of before. Behind Lovver, it is said by the label, are a post-rock guitarist and an
“avant-garde sound-mangler & noise maker”. They don’t discuss or talk a lot, but just play and on their joint cassette, the music is rather calm and yet also orchestral. The noisemaker provides a rhythm pounding below the waves that are no doubt courtesy of the guitar player. Apparently both
tracks (one per side) where played live, but shaped in the studio for this release. ‘Cloud Logic’ is the more guitar/rhythm-oriented piece on the first side with its sustaining guitar bits while ‘Sermon’ on the other side has a more abstract feel to it. A bit of crackling on the contact microphones and drones that are more alien, at least until the rhythm becomes more apparent. This music could serve well in a chill-out room, although a bit short to relax.