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

New Review for Bells Breath

“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

Bells Breath Review