bernhard gál - may 16th, 1999: subbass at the rhiz

collective improvisations by werner dafeldecker, n.i.c.j.o.b., jérome noetinger, john norman, lionel marchetti, and erin mc gonigle (= members of ao3 group 2 and group 3 plus guests)

the subbass concert might be seen as another realization of the idea of overlapping periods between the two groups which is a vital part of ao3’s conceptual background.

within this extraordinary mixture of performers all kinds of different musical concepts met, resulting in a heavy, but well-structured mush of sound. particularly prominent were the lower frequencies ("subbass”), that’s where the contributions of all participating musicians blended together especially well.

the fresh and rough sounds of analogue tape machines, manipulated by the french "musique concrète” disciples jérome noetinger and lionel marchetti, seemed to me like sparks in an otherwise quite thick bass tornado established by turntablist n.i.c.j.o.b. and werner dafeldecker and john norman (as bass players obviously specialists for low frequencies). sound artist erin mcgonigle contributed additional bass frequencies, too, but also environmental sound recordings and voices, which were unfortunately too delicate and therefore almost inaudible within a continuous high-volume performance.

yes, it seemed that many musical subtleties were overpowered by ongoing pulses/loops and a broad and never ceasing low noise band. certainly, inside this universe (chaos?) of sounds there were beautiful moments to be found, but i also caught myself posing the question: why do these (and most electronic) improvisers have to play that loud? - one simple explanation might be the lack of a sound engineer at the rhiz. for me, this self-limitation (most of this evening’s music was performed in a small dynamic range starting somewhere above 80db, only being limited by the pa system..) can easily turn from being somewhat entrancing and overwhelming into bare boredom. i frankly missed the courage to choose not to play from time to time, and rather listen to (and leave space for) what everybody else is doing. also the opportunity for smaller group interactions (duos, trios) was never really taken, and in the end the evening drifted away into what i would call quite normal deejay music. (which is not bad at all - don’t get me wrong - but doesn’t correlate to the evening’s broad musical potential)

summing up, a quite interesting evening and a unusual line-up of musicians.
(next time I’ll make sure to bring my ear plugs, though..)

ao3 Infoline: Kunsthalle Exnergasse 401 21/42
ao3 Ticketinfo: WUK Kasse 401 21/70 (Mo-Fr 14.00-18.00 Uhr)