Art’s Birthday 2009 Review – Teil 1
In a review of the 2009 Art’s Birthday celebrations, Kunstradio presents two highlights from Stockholm and Hainburg, concerts that were broadcast on 16th January via the Ravel and Verdi satellite channels of the European Broadcasting Union EBU.
Artists: Ahad & Én (live in Hainburg) and Christian Fennesz (live in Stockholm)
Foto by Petter Brandt
Christian Fennesz, guitar and electronics, performed live at Södra Teatern Stockholm (Sweden) from his latest solo album “Black Sea”:
"At last, the wait is over. Christian Fennesz's follow up to 2004's Venice is upon us, and it's not likely to leave anyone disappointed. The ten-minute title track gets the album underway, opening tentatively with flickers of noise and digital debris crackling like fireworks in the distance. Soon a flood of symphonic guitar and electronics overwhelms the mix and we're reintroduced to the signature sound world that's unique to this man's music - he's one of the most imitated electronic artists out there, and yet you can always pick out the real thing from a line-up of clones. Not resting on his laurels, before 'Black Sea' is even three minutes in, the magnitude shrinks down to a simple duet between oscillating tones and brittle acoustic guitar plucks. It's from here that the piece begins to swell up with majestic, incredibly warm sustains and scratchy textural details - the whole composition feels like a reintroduction to the various facets of the Fennesz sound. Next comes the first of two collaborative pieces (although it should be pointed out that this one isn't available on the vinyl edition - and while we're on the subject, nor is the ambient miniature 'Vacuum' encountered towards the end of the CD and digital tracklists): 'The Colour Of Three' features Anthony Pateras (a veteran of Editions Mego and Sirr), who supplies some nicely clanking prepared piano tones, placing emphasis on the instrument as a percussive device rather than a string instrument. Despite this augmented instrumental range we're still in familiar territory thanks to Fennesz's transcendent digital eruptions and gloriously rich sound designs. 'Perfume For Winter' is a more restrained affair, filled with contemplative acoustic figures and abrupt organ-driven chord changes. We get our first real taste of explicit melody here, reminiscent of Endless Summer's most approachable tracks. Importantly though, there are no overt attempts to retrace footsteps back to that classic album, and Black Sea sounds vehemently like a step forwards for Fennesz. This sense of progression is underlined by the spine-tinglingly wonderful 'Glide', a duet with Rosy Parlane which takes Fennesz's wall of sound into the stratosphere, sounding like an unearthly orchestra. The music itself matches the increased magnitude: if Endless Summer was a digitisation and abstraction of The Beach Boys, 'Glide' could be said to apply the same transformative techniques to more classically-geared sounds - there's an undercurrent of elegiac romanticism that might reasonably be compared to fellow notable Austrian, Gustav Mahler, specifically the well-known fourth movement of his 5th Symphony (once famously plundered by Robert Lippok for his Open/Close/Open release on Raster Noton). After the quietly glistening, chime-like tones of 'Glass Ceiling' comes previous single and album finale 'Saffron Revolution', which is a suitably grand closing gesture, stretching out a single, euphoric multi-layered chord across much of its duration before dissipating away into a pattern of delayed string plucks. Black Sea is far and away one of the year's most beautiful records, both in terms of the music itself and the sheer iridescence of the electronic sound harnessed within."
Ahad & En, live at Kulturfabrik Hainburg (Austria): “op. 90117”
“The composition characterised by formation strategy and immediate transitions; the use of unstable acoustic systems and continuous sound layers, unique electronic instruments (circuit bent toys, crackle box, Korg DS-10 etc.) which can develop towards a sound economy, very similar to minimalism’s compositional solutions such as micro-structural and sound reduction space arrangement, respectively a situationist détournement space arrangement (often preferring terrain records and environmental noises). Therefore the members of the ensemble perform a world of sounds with their instruments, and their electroacoustic sequences in which the created sound is separated from the source instrument in both the individual and collective sense. Their piece is characterised by the dramaturgy of the situation of intensive concentration and reaction times (slower and quicker processes) because of a sense of suspension, where sounds are looped for a longer or shorter time, recycled and changed only slightly. Comprising an improvised method of editing, it confronts the listener with an evolving sense of time and duration that transcend questions of musical to focus in the idea of shape, in the potentialities of a sound representation as stream of consciousness.”
(Ahad & Én)
Art'S Birthday 2009
Experimental Studio des slowakischen Rundfunks
Radio Tilos, Budapest
Art’s Birthday Network